DELUX CHOPS IT UP WITH CHEF BOBBY T
You scream, I scream, we all scream for…CHICKEN!
Seriously who doesn’t like a good ole’ fashion fried to perfection, seasoned to delight, mouth watering piece of chicken?
The owner and chef of St. Louis Wing Company Bobby Tessler, knows all to well about the screams over his fried chicken wings. But don’t let the chef hat fool you, there is much more to Bobby than meets the eye. His exclusive interview with us will let you know all the secrets to his sauce.
Delux Magazine: What’s it like being a chef, how did you get into culinary?
Chef Bobby Tessler: Being a chef is awesome. It’s an exciting avenue for me to express my creativity. It’s one of those careers that’s intriguing to everybody who finds out what I do and always ignites questions and inquiries. People seem to be fascinated by certain careers such as law enforcement or those involving the arts. Being a chef is a true art form.
Delux Magazine: Tell me about your experience the first time you presented your infamous Red Hot Riplets seasonsed chicken?
Chef Bobby Tessler: The Red Hot Riplets Wings came about after a customer sent me a photo of some Flamin’ Hot Cheeto wings. I thought it sounded interesting.. But me being such a big fan of my city, I wanted to create something more unique and include something that was homegrown. What better way to do that than to use our hometown staple, Old Vienna’s Red Hot Riplets! I, and everybody I knew grew up on those chips, it was a no brainer. I immediately began to experiment with different spice blends until I ended up with the perfect seasoning to match the flavor of the chip. Surprisingly it took me less than an hour.. A little more heat here and a little more sugar there. I was so excited about it when I contacted Old Vienna to ask if they’d be interested in being a part of my creation and they were just as excited as I was. I brought one of their representatives on Fox 2 News with me and the rest is history. Our Red Hot Riplets Wings have sparked city wide interest, spilling into other states through different social media outlets. Old Vienna has seen an enormous increase in the popularity in the Red Hot Riplets brand and it’s inspired other restaurants to start incorporating Red Hot Riplets into their menus. I’m quite proud to be the originator of such a popular trend.
Delux Magazine: When you were a newcomer on the culinary scene how did you get your name out there?
Chef Bobby Tessler: I’ve been a chef since I was a teenager. I was rising to the top making a name for myself around St Louis’ culinary scene in my early twenties. But it wasn’t until I opened my own restaurant that I began to gain more exposure to my brand and myself as a chef. I’d have to say social media played a big part in growing popularity. Along with networking and positioning myself with the right people to build strong relationships, and making sure to not burn any bridges along the way. Oh.. Did I mention our food being amazing? That causes for great “word of mouth” advertising for sure.
DM: Now that you have a name on top it, how do you keep your recipes hip and fresh?
Chef Bobby Tessler: Now that I’ve established my brand, it doesn’t mean I can sit back and let it ride. Food evolves everyday. To stay relevant, I don’t follow trends, I set new ones. I’ve always been one to step outside the box and push envelopes every chance I get. Even if it means putting caramel sauce or gin & juice on a chicken wing. I make it fresh by being fresh.
DM: What techniques do you use to keep people coming back to St. Louis Wing Co.?
Chef Bobby Tessler: The techniques I use to keep people coming back are quite simple. Consistent quality food and outstanding customer service.
DM: Tell me about St. Louis Wing Co.?
Chef Bobby Tessler: St Louis Wing Company is the only independently owned chicken wing restaurant in St Louis. We make each and every one of our 18+ sauces from scratch. Including our signature Ranch Dressing (which we make 5 gallons a day of). Fresh ingredients and unique ideas is what we’re all about
DM: What particular time or event you realized you wanted to make being a chef a career?
Chef Bobby Tessler: I started working in restaurants as a dishwasher when I was 14. I always thought the cooks were the coolest guys in the restaurant and knew one day I’d become one. I did and I kept going. Faking my way to the top. I became the head Chef at BB’s Jazz Blues & Soups downtown on Broadway, with the late great Mark O’Shaughnessy. Cooking and creating menus was in my blood. I knew my life would be in the culinary world for years to come. (19 years later BB’s still has some of my original recipes on the menu)
DM: Creatively what recipe was the hardest and why?
Chef Bobby Tessler: Creatively I can’t label anything as being hard. I’d like to think of it as one challenge at a time. The challenge of thinking of an idea while trying to fall asleep night and turning it into reality the next day is pretty amazing. Sometimes getting the flavors perfect can be difficult. But hey, that’s why I’m a chef and other people are nurses and secretaries. I’m just good at it I guess! (Laughs out loud)
DM: Looking back over your career what would you tell your younger self?
Chef Bobby Tessler: Looking back at my career I’d probably tell my younger self to expect long hours, little pay, and holidays spent in the kitchen. I might even try to talk myself into becoming something else.. Or.. I’d say, “do you homie. you’re gonna do great things in the culinary industry!”
DM: The culinary industry has dramatically changed how has this affected you creatively, has it changed the way you cook?
Chef Bobby Tessler: The changes I’ve noticed in the culinary industry, in my opinion, are rather annoying. It seems the trend now is more focused on “farm to table” and decorating plates with twigs and flowers. So, no it definitely hasn’t changed the way I cook. I don’t follow trends. I stick to making tasty food instead of trying to keep up with a trend that’ll fade away in a couple years.
DM: What meal has had a major influence on you and why?
Chef Bobby Tessler: I was inspired to my core from Southern Louisiana cuisine (country Cajun and sophisticated Creole). It’s what sparked my interest and moved me to become a professional chef. Gumbo with brown roux is so complex, yet very simple at the same time. But that dish, with all of it’s versatility probably has had the most impact on my desire to be a great cook. New Orleans is in my soul, it’s my Mecca. Every time I visit, I feel at home. I soak in the culture and it brings me back to where my love of great food began.
DM: How has living in St. Louis influenced your recipes?
Chef Bobby Tessler: I’m So St Louis. My bro Murphy Lee said it best. Us St Louisan’s above other cities, I’ve noticed, tend to represent “the krib” whenever we’re out of town at least rocking a Cardinals cap. I love my city. I love the diversity here. There’s so much history that’s come up the Mississippi River from the south. There’s influences from so many cultures here, it’s a melting pot of culture and food. So, of course that diversity is demonstrated thru my cooking. I’m from the Lou and I’m proud and I say it loud!
Well folks there you have it, Chef Bobby Tessler. If you haven’t been hit up St. Louis Wing Company on your next lunch hour. Now on a count of three lets all scream for some good ole’ fried chicken!
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