CHEF NOTES: Episode One

BY ROB COTTMAN

I have had the fortunate opportunity to meet many people throughout my life and travels, and every single one of them has taught me something about getting where you want to go. In this current chapter of my life as Executive Chef of World Cafe Live, I am grateful to work alongside many people in both the hospitality and music industry who are working hard daily to stay sharp in their respective fields. Here you will find my interviews with some of those people, and an exclusive inside look behind the scenes of who we are and what we do and why we love it.

EPISODE ONE: Meet Gabe

As a Chef, one of the best compliments to your food is the perfect cocktail. One of my favorite collaborators is World Cafe Live Bar Manager and resident mixologist, Gabe Dullek.

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RC: What do you feel like defines a mixologist and how do they differ from bartenders?GD: Like a most bartenders, I’m reticent to embrace the term “mixologist”, even if it makes sense on paper. That’s probably because of the common perception surrounding it; it suggests an image of pretention that most of us don’t want to be associated with. Given the chance to rewrite popular perception, I’d define a mixologist as a bartender who also creates cocktail recipes and has a passion for the art of the cocktail.

RC: Where does your passion for spirits and cocktails stem from?
GD: I get most of my culinary appreciation from working with my dad, who’s been a chef for as long as I can remember. He’s always had a capital “R” Romantic view of cooking and treated it as his art that he had the opportunity to share. I can’t place the exact moment when I steered that same passion towards spirits, but after a few years in the industry, I started taking over the cocktail program at WCL. When I realized I had been reading cocktail books in my free time, I knew I’d caught the bug.

RC: What is your take on representing traditional recipes vs using personal creativity to put a twist on a classic?
GD: My love of history leads me to try more than my fair share of traditional cocktail preparations, and when I share those with other people, it feels like momentarily resurrecting the past. But the past isn’t necessarily sacred, and older isn’t necessarily better. That’s why it’s important to study context, learn from it, and expand upon it. Never stop improving what’s been done before.

RC: How do you encourage people who are less informed about the nuance of spirits and invite them in to try something new?
GD: I asked the same question of Derek Brown at a signing of his book “Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters”. He told me that a bartender’s most important tool behind the bar is charm. If someone asks for a basic cocktail, offer to make them something better. Make it a collaboration between you and them. Bartending being a social career, you can usually pick up on whether someone will be receptive to that approach. The other key is to avoid being condescending. I treat my liquor knowledge with the same enthusiasm as a kid opening their toybox for something to show you.

RC: What is your favorite spirit to use in cocktail creation, and why?
GD: There’s a wide range of Italian Amari (bittersweet herbal liqueurs) out there, and maybe the best thing about them is that no two are alike. Take any cocktail and swap out the sweet ingredient for an Italian Amaro and it’ll result in a beautifully complex drink.

RC: What spirit in your opinion should never be mixed?
GD: Single malt Islay scotch. But in general, any spirit for which the aging process is part of the appeal. Those flavors can take a generation to develop, and they’re easily masked by additives. I won’t be so dramatic as to suggest that someone who enjoys their ten-year-old scotch with sprite is committing an act of sacrilege, but it would be wasteful.

RC: What spirit do you think is the most overlooked when creating cocktails?
GD: Vermouth has been relegated to this sad role of punching bag for martini drinkers. Probably because they’ve never had a good one or worse, had one that’s been sitting behind the bar way past its expiration date (refrigerate your vermouth, everybody). Like amaro, a decent vermouth can add complexity to almost any cocktail or be enjoyed on its own.

RC: How do you handle the challenges of high volume bartending, where there isn’t time to develop a conversation around each drink?
GD: The greatest challenge has been ensuring speed and ease of service without sacrificing quality; thankfully I have as much time to prepare as I’m willing to put in. I took inspiration from stories of Donn Beach, mixing and batching ingredients ahead of time to speed up service and guarantee consistency. I’ve been given the opportunity to continuously experiment with and improve those formulas and will continue to do so.

PHOTOS BY MARIO OLIVETO

BEING THERE: Lucinda Williams @ World Cafe Live via Phawker

“With a presentation of old photographs and home movies projected onto a screen above the stage, and a music stand presumably full of notes and lyrics, Williams gave us the grand tour of Car Wheels… There were no more secrets to worry about — she put her life out on the table in music and narrative for the whole crowd to bear witness.”

Read more at Phawker

“Teen Learning Community Bryn Mawr: 14 Years of Prototyping Talent-Based Student Philanthropy” via Mainline Suburban Life

“In the winter of 2006, with World Café Live’s Hal Real in full support early on, Lower Merion’s student impresario Dani Ella Yaron was able to stage several revenue-generating concerts highlighting student musicians to start the funding for an innovative teen center.

Real very generously gave Teen Learning Community one hundred percent of gate revenue, based on the realistic expectation that people in the audience would spend a lot of money on food and drinks.

As a result of Hal Real’s business model, through three concerts, we were able to bring in over two thousand dollars to pay for insurance policies to underwrite our events and look into a broader campaign to purchase the up-for-sale Bryn Mawr Hardware Store.”

Meet with students and ask them what they can do – their talents – and what they want to do, set a purpose, and do the work. And, of course, if you can find someone as generous as entrepreneur Hal Real of World Café Live to get you started financially, you will be in good shape.”

READ FULL STORY

Goose Island Takeover 2019: Bites & Brews

As part of our Goose Island Takeover on June 22nd, we are hosting a one night only Bites & Brews” beer dinner featuring seasonal and exclusive beers with dishes prepared specifically to pair with each one.

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Similarly to how brewers pair hops with other ingredients to create craft beers, our Executive Chef, Rob Cottman, has tasted each beer for both hidden and prominent notes to create a five course menu meant to “take you on a journey of Goose Island and World Cafe Live cuisine.” He adds, “They all blend together like a DJ blending different genres of music in one flawless set.”

Goose Island’s Philly brewer, Tim Caron, also feels the natural connection between food, beer, and music: “We love collaborating with musicians, festivals, venues, and other people in the music industry any time we can. Music and brewing are both creative outlets, so we like to mix them together and enjoy the results.”

Plus, there are both meat and vegan options available! This menu was created with both diets in mind – no afterthought protein substitutions, but carefully crafted plates. “People have been eating a plant-based diet for decades, but these days the creativity of vegan options is out of this world. I like to create dishes that people can enjoy daily and not look at like novelty creations,” explains Cottman.

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[Vegan] Thai basil risotto with a vegetable stack of eggplant, zucchini, squash, and spinach tofu ricotta finished with sundried tomato pesto

Light and flavorful, this is the perfect menu to pair with summer beers, plus our very own exclusive World Cafe Live Spotlight Session IPA — “a New England style session IPA loaded with malted and flaked oats, then abundantly hopped and dry hopped with some of our favorite hops (Cashmere, Idaho 7, and Chinook),” describes Caron.

Join us for a delicious experience and to learn more about the beer pairings from Goose Island’s own Philly brewers, who will be on site to walk you through each course.

JUNE 22 // 6PM // $60 // TICKETS

Now Hiring: Servers / Food Runners

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World Cafe Live is now accepting applications for qualified servers and food runners/bussers. Potential applicants should have a preferred 2+ years experience in the service industry and be able to navigate working in a fast-paced and high pressure environment. World Cafe Live thrives on a team mentality and expects all employees to contribute positively to our team in a multitude of ways. Upon applying please attach a resume as well as 5 reasons you think you would be a great addition to our team. We look forward to hearing from you!

Applications can be submitted to: jobs@worldcafelive.com

Introducing the New Menu

Created and prepared by Executive Chef, Rob Cottman, and his dedicated kitchen crew, our new menu offers bold, fresh dishes as well as returning favorites. Drawing inspiration from a diverse array of cuisines, there is something for everyone—including plenty of vegan and gluten free options!

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Atlantic Salmon: blackened salmon on a bed of sautéed spaghetti squash, kale, heirloom tomato, and purple onions, with two jumbo shrimp finished with saffron garlic butter and charred lemon

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Barbecue Beef Tips: tender smoked beef tips covered in bourbon BBQ sauce with grilled vegetables over garlic cilantro rice

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Black Bean Burger: handmade black bean patty with guacamole, bibb lettuce, and sun-dried tomato pesto on a kaiser roll

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Thai Curry Mussels: one pound of  steamed PEI Mussels cooked in a Thai basil coconut curry sauce with charred lemon and toast points

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Creme Brulee Cheesecake with fresh berries and whipped cream

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Island In The Sun: Bacardi rum / amaretto / coconut syrup / pineapple

Barrel Aged Black Manhattan: Thistle Finch Black Pepper rye whiskey / Amaro Averna Angostura bitters / orange bitters

Please note that the restaurant is open at 5pm for dinner only when a show or event is scheduled. Happy Hour is from 5-7pm, including Vinylly Friday with WXPN DJ, John Vettese, the first and third Friday of the month!

FRIDAY ONLY: We are also open for lunch from 11am-3pm. View the full menu here!

The Many Dimensions Of WXPN – New Digs and A New Home For The NONCOMM-vention

“Whereas, in the past, WXPN and World Cafe were forced to operate out of cramped and limited studio space, they now enjoy modern studios with plenty of broadcast and production options. In addition to housing the station, a restaurant and live music venue that is open to the public, called World Cafe Live, is also part of the complex. World Cafe Live presents a variety of live music, much of which resonates with WXPN members and listeners, in two (upstairs and downstairs) spaces.”

Read more on AllAccess.com!

New Orleans indie rockers, Motel Radio, find their way into the WCL Spotlight

Motel Radio is an indie rock band hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana. The band was born out of a songwriting collaboration between college roommates, Ian Wellman and Winston Triolo, that has since grown into a full band consisting of Eric Lloyd (drums), and Andrew Pancamo (bass). The band was named “Best Emerging Artist” at the 2016 Big Easy Awards in their home town of New Orleans.

RSVP here to secure your spot for their Spotlight show upstairs on 4/19 with Quiet Hollers!

The following questions were answered by guitarist and vocalist, Ian Wellman.

In just a few years, you have gone from mainly playing the college scene to supporting national acts such as Kurt Vile and DriveBy Truckers, in addition to touring around the country. What has that transition been like? 

It’s felt pretty natural, actually. It all started really quickly once we started getting interest from management, booking agents, record labels etc. But since then, we’ve been on the road a ton trying to build markets and reach new people. We’re starting to shift our focus back to writing and recording the new stuff, and that feels really good.

While your 2015 EP, Days & Nights, seems to be rooted in classic, southern rock, your latest release, Desert Surf Films, leans a bit more toward west coast, surf rock. What can be attributed to this shift in sound?

A wider set of influences and a better understanding of our gear. The Days & Nights songs were the first ones we ever wrote together. At that point, we were all in a deep folk phase. We were learning how to craft good songs by classic standards I think. Now it’s like “what can we do to make this more unique?” We just want to push our own limits a bit, and I think that’s driving the sound of our newer stuff.

The lyrics to “Star of the South,” calling out to someone who has perhaps reached glamour and fame while forgetting about their roots, really stand out in contrast to the intimate, house party setting of the video. Could you speak more to the meaning of this track and the process of creating the live video?

The track is about the way that we, as humans, like to hold people on a pedestal. Like it’s in our nature to idolize certain people for some reason. These people can influence us completely and we don’t even really know them. They’re just humans too, though. No actual life experience can compare to the cinematic fantasies we imagine they are living, so it’s good not to compare yourself to them. Just do you! The song is definitely sarcastic at points, but I’m totally guilty of it too. I think all of us are.

Our friend Christian Schultz directed the video. We had just met, he came over to brainstorm video ideas. I turned on the song and he started walking around the house looking through a fake camera, bobbing to the beat and was just like “I have an idea”. We took it and ran with it. Got some friends over and shot it the next day. I love that it’s all one take.

What was the first concert you went to?

Backstreet Boys, baby. Circa 2000 I think.

Do you have any hotel/motel horror stories?

We stayed at a yurt in remote California once. It was amazing. I was outside alone in pitch black just watching the stars when I heard someone walking around in the grass near me. I couldn’t see them through the darkness, but I figured it was one of the guys taking a leak or something. I walked back into the yurt and my whole body got cold when I realized everyone was there. Whatever was out there with me was human sized, I swear.

By: Tate Kamish

WCL April Spotlight Artist: Quiet Hollers

Quiet Hollers formed in Louisville around the songwriting of singer/guitarist Shadwick Wilde, who originally formed the group with the idea of playing only one show—the CD release of his solo effort, Unforgivable Things, in 2010. The group’s debut, I Am the Morning, followed in 2013. Two more well-received records later, the alt-country group is coming to World Cafe Live for a night in the Spotlight with Motel Radio on 4/19!

You can find out a bit more about Quiet Hollers below, and RSVP for FREE the show here.

The following questions were answered by frontman, Shadwick Wilde.

Why did you originally plan on only playing one show (your CD release show)?

I had recorded a solo album, and I thought I should put together a band to play the CD release party… there was really no plan behind that. This was 2010, so people were still saying “CD release party.” We went by “Shadwick Wilde & the Quiet Hollers” and eventually shortened the name to Quiet Hollers to fit better on top of all those marquees [self-deprecating laugh].

How did you then go on to form your current group?

My ride-or-die, Aaron West, has been with us from the beginning— the fateful CD release show. Jim Bob Brown and I worked at a bar together, and he’s been with us since 2013. Rafael Freitas on drums and Trent Russelburg on bass are joining us on tour for the first time. Fingers crossed they stick around!

How do you think recording an isolated cabin in the woods influenced your latest album, Amen Breaks?

I honestly can’t say. There’s a feeling of paranoia, or maybe impending doom throughout the record I think. Some people might feel tranquility or peace and quiet in a place like that. For me it’s more anxiety and loneliness.

Who is an artist that you would like to collaborate with?

I’d love to do a track with Danny Brown. I love his music, and every collaboration I see from him is so choice. He keeps it so uncomfortably real. Something I aspire to.

By: Tate Kamish

Staff Picks: Waker

By: Jack O’Rourke

What started as a fun, little project between lifelong friends, Chase Bader (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Conor Kelly (electric guitar), has grown into one of the hottest bands coming out of Nashville. Formerly known under the name Koa, Waker has garnered quite the following for their high octane and jam session filled live shows. With a similar sound to Dave Mathews Band, Waker is known for their eclectic blend of soul, funk, and rock & roll. Fresh off the release of their 2015 EP, Waker hit the festival circuit playing shows at ACL, Hangout, Bonnaroo, SXSW and Firefly and have been on the road touring ever since.

While balancing touring and working on an album, last year Waker released their most recent single, “Pike.” My personal favorite from their repertoire; the single marks the culmination of Waker’s evolution as songwriters and musicians. The up-tempo and dance inducing song got its name after the U.S. general and explorer, Zebulon Pike. With their sights set on a Guinness World Record, all seven members piled into their van and hit the road, heading for Pikes Peak with the goal of reaching the summit and “playing the hell out of this song.” The music video for “Pike” shows the bands journey to the top of the mountain.

As we patiently await the release of Waker’s new album, in the meantime be sure to catch Waker at WCL – Upstairs on Saturday, April 7th. Tickets are available here.