Chef on a Hot Tin Roof

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Tin Roof Mochiko Bowl
Top: Kale salad with kim chee roasted peanuts and Maui onion potato chip crumbles. Twice-fried mochiko chicken with banchan of pickled onions. Banchan are Korean-style marinated vegetables; Tin Roof serves up to eight varieties.

“When we opened, and the work shifted to cooking and operations, the roles reversed. Just like I was frustrated with him for not knowing how to hang drywall, he was frustrated with me for not knowing the restaurant business. I had been home, managing the kids and household. Prior to that, I worked behind a desk for years. I went from that to a high-paced, on-your-feet-all-day restaurant operation.

“In the end, Sheldon realized he needed to be patient with my lack of experience. We are learning to work together and understand each other in ways we never had to before. It is nice that I get to see him every day, and we both work hard to have this place we built with our community in mind—where you can get ‘ono [delicious] food cooked to order, not sitting under heat lamps all day, and not break your wallet.”

In the span of four hours, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tin Roof’s team of five will assemble 300 bowls, sandwiches and salads for that appreciative community. The eight-stool counter fills up quickly as patrons decide to dine in. A big, burly man with a salt-and-pepper beard sits next to me. I ask if he’s eaten here before and he answers, “Let’s see . . . I came here last week Friday and I’ve been back every day since; that’s seven days in a row. I had the chicken sandwich yesterday and it was the best I’ve ever had. It’s good and bad, because my business is right around the corner . . . I can eat here every day.”

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