Meet the Chef: Pete Kaiser of McMenamin's Tavern
The chef told us about his community work, his love of hot dogs and peanut butter (together) and escargot disasters.
Pete Kaiser, the chef at McMenamin's Tavern, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and definitely knows his way around the kitchen.
He also knows the community well, as evidenced by the countless greetings, high fives and knowing chuckles he exchanged with people that passed by the tavern on a recent day.
The dyed-in-the-wool-chef has created some wacky culinary concoctions and talked to us about some of his experiences.
Name: Pete Kaiser
Hometown: Philadelphia (he's from Oxford Circle in Northeast Philadelphia)
Home Now: Mt. Airy
Favorite thing about the community: "Everyone is so nice, everyone gets along."
Do you do any community work? "We donate food, we participated in the chili contest for the rotary club. We help out our regular customers when they ask for it."
Years in the Industry: 20
Earliest Cooking Memory: "I was about four or five and sitting with my grandfather in the kitchen of this rented beach house in Ocean City and we were making breakfast while listening to Frank Sinatra."
First Kitchen Job: "It was at an Italian deli down the street from my house—I started out doing dishes and kept an eye on what other people were doing, learned how to make gelato, sorbet and the other stuff they were making."
What brought you to the industry? "I was really interested in food, how it works, loved working with it. I was always playing with my food."
Advice for Home Cooks: "Practice, experiment, don't be afraid of trying something new. Use fresh produce, don't buy stuff out of a box and just add water to it."
Favorite Thing to Cook: "Whatever the favorite food of the person I'm cooking for is. I also love classic northern Italianm BBQ, smoking and braising things and soul food."
Favorite Menu Item: "The burger and wings. The specials are always awesome."
Healthiest Menu Item: "We do lots of fresh salads. Everything is cut fresh everyday."
Favorite Restaurant in the World: The Split Bar in Belize
Guilty Pleasure (food or drink): Hot dogs with peanut butter.
Last Meal on Earth: A good plate of homemade pasta, red wine, tres leches cake.
Cook for any celebrities? Bon Jovi, Harrison Ford, Cyndi Lauper, Ryan Howard, Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of The Hooters.
Favorite Food Shows? "I used to watch 'The Frugal Gourmet' with my grandfather, and I love Alton Brown."
Biggest Kitchen Disaster: "In college, we had live escargot in a cage in the walk-in. Everyone was checking them out, someone left the cage open. The next day there were escargot everywhere—on the ceiling, in the lettuce, all over the stoves, the kitchen floor. We had no idea how many there were originally so we could never be sure that we had rounded them all up. We had to throw away the lettuce and whatever else they had made contact with. Our instructor tried to be mad at us but it was so hilarious/ridiculous he was sort of laughing in secret."