Gitenstein joined the Lola team and now works with owner Felicia Ruiz on menu items and seasonal concepts. Coming up? Gitenstein says they're working on bocadillos, or Spanish sandwiches and a gaspacho-inspired take on the bloody mary (think cucumber-infused vodka with a roasted-tomato base). Salud to that!
Today the chef dishes on his own kitchen rules, his stance on social media and his customized kitchen utensil.
Favorite Tool: I think I have the only custom-made Japanese Misono vegetable cleaver in Arizona. I had just bought it when a chef I was working for smashed the front end while breaking down halibut bones. So I took it to Phoenix Knife House, where I bought it and they were able to fix it for me and give it a round edge, so it kind of rocks back and forth. It's awesome.
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Kitchen Rules: It's just me in the kitchen, so I can't punish myself if something goes wrong. But it is challenging. If things are screwed up, it's totally my fault. Luckily. I really like the challenge and I like making sure that everything is up to my own standards before it leaves the kitchen.
Recipe in Progress: I'm still trying to master pastries, for sure. You can measure something and put it in the oven for an hour and twenty minutes, pull it out and it sucks. Then you have to sit there and figure out what you did wrong. It's just a totally scientific and precise mindset that I'm definitely trying to learn and get better at.
On Social Media: I think social media is good for the culinary scene. There are always people who are just blabbing, but it gives people like us at Lola or me at mftasty a shot at the general public without having to hire a PR firm or creating a cheesy chef persona. I am just a person that cooks and stands behind my food without saying "hey, I'm a chef! Look at me!"
What's next: I really like Lola and I love my boss (Felicia Ruiz). Felicia is very encouraging and pushes me to continue with the restaurant and mftasty, so I just want to continue doing anything that adds variety to the food scene out here.
(This was part two of our interview with Eric Gitenstein of Lola Tapas, check out part one and stay tuned for a recipe tomorrow... )