20 Questions - Chris Pandel, The Bristol

I've been a big fan of The Bristol for a long time. It shocks me when I mention it as a "go-to" place that people don't already know it. Give me back your "foodie" badge NOW, sinners! Chris always seems to be smiling and laughing at events and when I told him about my blog he laughed and said, "I like it." Then he laughed with me I think. Our sarcasm is rather similar.

I'm addicted to his Scotch Olives. As excited as I was for Amanda Rockman to start doing their pastry, I kept asking him more to reassure myself that the chocolate and peanut butter dessert wasn't going ANYWHERE! Ya, I was that guy!

With his new project recently announced, I look forward to Balena and what he does with Italian food. Chef thank you for taking the time and making me laugh then and now as I replay our conversation.

Name                 Chris Pandel


Restaurant          The Bristol
Married               Lindsay
Kids                   James (3 mos.) - Like Rick James (laughs)
Age                    31
From                  Riverside, IL
Culinary School   Johnson and Wales - I didn't graduate
Knife                  Right
Twitter Handle    @cpandel

1. What did you have for dinner last night?
A brat and potato chips

2. Place you eat most often on days off?
Sun-wah, for better or worse

3. Favorite ingredient to work with?

4. If you got $5,000 how would you spend it?
I'd put it in to my kids college fund.

5. First word that comes to mind when I say Michelin?

6. Favorite Charity Event that you do?
Common Threads World Event

7. Last weekend on earth - what city are you eating in?
Having never been there I'd go to Rome

8. If you weren't cooking, what would you do for a living?
I'd be an author of some sort.

9. Most exotic vacation destination?
Mexico, I'm lame! - I told him wasn't the only one.

10. Most embarrassing cooking moment?
Chris: Breaking a Vanilla Beurre Blanc at an event in NYC in front of 25 chefs when I was a cook at Tru with Rick Tramanto?
CFS: How did Rick react?
Chris: He was not very happy.
CFS: Was this before or after Jesus became a part of his life?
Chris: Way before Jesus - he may have said Jesus a few times but not like he would today (laughing)

11. Person you would most like to cook for?
The team at the restaurant.

12. What are you most excited about right now?
My son

13. Do you have any pet peeves?
Chris: Ya many - green bell peppers are a huge pet peeve of mine
CFS: You just don't like them - orange ok, green no
Chris: Ya

14. What is new on your DVR?
Workaholics on Comedy Central

15. Dish on the menu you eat most?
Chris: French Fries (laughs)
CFS: Sauce?
Chris: Mayo, Aoili - bury me in that shit!

16. Daniel Boulud, Rick Tramanto, Andrew Carmellini - who would you want to work for again?

17. Fill in the blank - Yelp is

18. Did you taste baby food before the baby came?
Chris: Ya
CFS: Any brand you prefer?
Chris: No they're all disgusting especially Tyler Florence's.
CFS: Do you want me to edit that?
Chris: No you can put whatever you want, I don't give a shit

19. You describe yourself as a loveable asshole - why?
Because I am, I'm a nice guy but I have some severe opinions.

20. Michael Nagrant's wrote - "Bucktown's got a copycat on its hands - Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but ripping someone off is just a recipe for bad karma. With that in mind, The Bristol, Bucktown's new Midwestern-inspired trattoria, might be headed for some bad vibes." 2.5 yrs later has your first reaction to those comments changed?
Chris: It did. Mike wrote another article about us shortly after that where he had a bunch of offal dishes. He really enjoyed them and he wrote some very complimentary stuff about that. I'm ok with Mr. Nagrant.
CFS: Did you feel like you were copy catting.
Chris: No, not at all, Rob and I have similar styles and beliefs and were friendly but I don't think Mado and the Bristol are the same restaurant at all.
CFS: Even then he compared you to Chalkboard..
Chris: No, I've gone to chalkboard menu's since I was a kid. And that was a part of the casualness of the restaurant.
CFS: At the same time if you can execute it better
Chris You know, no one is that original - I'll give Mr Achatz his props for what he's doing because beyond that there's very few doing original stuff and beyond that its hard to find what zero actually is.

21. How much do you miss sleeping?
Chris: It's overrated. It's my favorite sport but whatever. (laughs) I don't get up for the midnight feedings anymore I've turned in to a turd. My wife is an absolute Champion. So hat's off to her.
CFS: Do you change diapers?
Chris: Oh ya I'm a hands on Dad. I'm a good Dad.

If you're interested in reading past 20 question interviews, you can find them on the blog with Ryan Poli, Francis Brennan, Giuseppe Tentori and Charlie McKenna.

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at chicagofoodsnob@hotmail.com. Joe is retained as a compensated blogger by Pei Wei Asian Diner.


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