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Chef's Table brings tastes of Oktoberfest to Athens

September 27, 2018

Culinary Services is bringing a German twist to their next Chef’s Table event. On Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., Chef Tim Bruce will be demonstrating how to prepare some Oktoberfest-inspired dishes in the Jefferson Marketplace Culinary Studio. Tickets for the events are $25 each and can be purchased here. More information can be found on the Culinary Services website.

In anticipation of the event, Chef Bruce took time away from the kitchen to talk about the menu, the inspiration and some of his favorite things about cooking.

Tell us about the cuisine.

It’s German-esque. I have some bratwurst on the menu, but it’s bite size so it’s more of an appetizer. We have Riesling, which is a classic German wine, but we put it in a sauté dish. We have some spaetzle and soft pretzels, but there’s also a plate ofjalapenobacon cheese dip. So it’s not a straight German meal. We have a German theme with some spins on the classic. Oktoberfest was the onset, but then we have to figure out if we’re going to cook with tons of beer or if we’re going to keep it a little lighter.

What else is on the menu?

As I mentioned, we have baconjalapenocheese dip with soft pretzels, and we’re making the soft pretzels and the dip ourselves. There’s bratwurst bites with homemade mustard, which we’re also making from scratch. It’s actually very easy to make; you can make it at home with some mustard seeds and hot water. It’s to show the people attending that it’s very easy to make your own. Then we have a chicken Riesling dish, which is a sauté dish with leeks and onions. On the side we have spaetzle, which is a classic German starch, like a little pasta dumpling. You just cook them and sauté them as a side. We make them from scratch as well. And then apple kuchen, which is basically an apple cake. It’s only a few ingredients and fairly straightforward.

What will guests get out of this experience?

It’s more visual and more interacting with the chefs than cooking themselves. It’s a chance for them to see lots of different techniques and ask questions so they can see how to make the soft pretzels or spaetzle themselves. They get the recipes as well, so they can go home and try it themselves.

What is your favorite thing about Chef’s Table?

Getting to interact with the guests and help people learn a little bit. Being able to answer their questions should hopefully get rid of the stigma that they can’t do it themselves. It’s food ... Anyone can do it!

What is your background as a chef?

I got my culinary degree in Chicago and worked 19 years in downtown Chicago in various positions in restaurants, working everything from the front of the house to going back into the kitchen and actually getting to cook. Then I spent 10 years after that at Murray State University in Kentucky working as the executive chef there. In between, my wife and I had our own restaurant in downtown Chicago, which was a lot of fun but a lot of work. It was a gourmet sandwich shop, and we did catering and other things. It was seven days a week, 365 days a year, for five years! It was fun, but it got tiring.

What is your favorite thing to cook?

I’m an American Bistro kind of guy. I like taking quality ingredients and cooking them simply to enhance the flavor. I think the type of food we’re making at Chef’s Table fits right in. We have chicken Riesling, which is only five or six ingredients. Pick a different wine and a couple different vegetables and it could be a totally different taste but all the steps are the same.

Why do you enjoy cooking in a university setting?

While we’re here, we’re supporting the students. Feeding them every day and taking care of them is an important part of our job. Generally, being a chef, you get to teach and mentor people, but at the end of the day, you always have something you’ve made. Maybe at other jobs you have a six month goal, and you still have those long term goals as a chef. But every day you have a project you finish, and you get that feeling of accomplishment daily.