Over the next few weeks, Columbus Underground is taking a look at some of the amazing young talent in the kitchens of your favorite local restaurants, food trucks and other dining establishments in the relaunch of our series known as “New Columbus Chefs“.
The Rossi has been a jewel in the Short North for years. Remember it before the expansion? They have always had one of the best burgers to be found in Columbus and now also have many of the best entrées and pizzas.
Name: Andrew Smith
Current Job: Executive Chef/General Manager of The Rossi Bar and Kitchen
Can you tell us about your training/educational experience?
I attended the Western Culinary Institute, a Le Cordon Bleu Associates program in downtown Portland, Oregon in 2005
Can you tell us about your professional kitchen experience?
During culinary school I was hired as a garde manger cook at a local family owned Italian restaurant in Portland called Riccardo’s. I was trained in every aspect of that kitchen and stayed there for 3 years. Riccardo’s was an amazing experience for me. The foundation of my cooking style was built there. At Riccardo’s I learned how to cook fish and balance flavors. I also learned the importance of local farmers and seasonal produce . The small kitchen atmosphere at Riccardo’s taught me to love food. In Portland I also worked at a restaurant called Bleuhour which was a great learning experience as well. I learned about foie gras and caviar there. Strange enough, I learned to toss a pizza at Bluehour as well. Since then I have done some private cooking and some catering. In the summer of 2010 my Wife, 2 children and I moved to Columbus. In January of 2011 I was hired as a line cook at The Rossi Bar and Kitchen. Eventually I was asked to take over the roll of Executive chef. I have been here ever since. The Rossi has been very good to me. I have had the opportunity to really test my skills and learn from my mistakes. All of my best friends in Columbus I have met because of the Rossi.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
I could cook real Italian food for the rest of my life. That could be a cliche answer but I feel there is a lot more patience and skill required than most people realize in Italian cuisine.
What is your favorite cuisine to eat?
I could eat tacos for the rest of my days. Mexican food is very close to my heart and it is what I crave the most.
What one kitchen utensil/tool could you never live without?
I don’t think I could do my job with out a nice flexible pair of tongs. They are so versatile.
What’s your favorite cookbook?
This is a very difficult question. I don’t think I could narrow it down but Larousse Gastronomique is great because it teaches you why things happen. The French Laundry is also one of my favorites because it always makes me re evaluate my self as cook.
What is your favorite Columbus restaurant (besides your own)?
That is difficult because I don’t get out much. Katalina’s Puebla B.L.T. is pretty great.
Who are your inspirational figures in the culinary world?
My Grandma Byrd because of her biscuits and watermelon rind preserves, Julia Childs, because she is Julia Childs, my friend Charlie Zorrich because he taught me more about food than anyone I know, and probably Tomas Keller because of his dedication to perfection.
What is your dream job?
30 seats. Two six course seatings a night, Wednesday through Saturday. Reservation only and the food would be whatever the heck I wanted it to be.
What do you think about the culinary scene in Columbus?
I am quite impressed with culinary scene in Columbus. Due to my own ignorance I wasn’t expecting much when I moved here, but I have been pleasantly surprised.
What do you think about the “foodie” scene in Columbus?
I think it is headed in the right direction. I think there are quite a few people in this city that love to be adventurous when it comes to trying new things. I would encourage more people to be like them. There are still people afraid of the words “pork belly”.
Tell us one food-related fact about yourself that few people know.
Before I knew any better I thought that canned asparagus was wonderful.
To sample some of Chef Andrew Smith’s cuisine, head to www.rossibarandkitchen.com.
Photo by Chris Walker Photography.