It’s Getting Haute in Winston

Jiliana Dulaney, owner of Haute Chocolate in Winston Salem, has a great thing going. Her chocolate shop on Burke Street showcases unique flavor combinations, like pumpkin curry. Each truffle is inspired by an experience or person that Jill has encountered. Just as the flavors work together to highlight their best features, Jill and Winston-Salem bring out the best in one another. Jill will offer her perspective on foodie entrepreneurship in part 2 of this interview, but first, she opens up about herself, including her deep dislike of mayonnaise.

Starting with the basics:

Occupation: Chocolatier and Owner of Haute Chocolate in Winston Salem. Where are you from?  Chicago, Illinois. When did you move to North Carolina? September 2006. My parents had moved here because my dad took over a new sales territory. They loved it here, and I was like “Oh, I’ll try it out and see what happens.” I thought I was going to hate it, and I gave myself six months to save up money to go back to Chicago. That never happened… I met my husband a week after moving here. He’s the reason I stayed. 

What do you love best about North Carolina? Probably the weather, and the fact that you  can go to the mountains or the beach within just a few hours, even though I don’t get to enjoy that as much as I used to.

What type of music do you listen to when you’re cooking in the kitchen? It varies. It’s a lot of angry girl music, like Ani DiFranco and Metric. And sometimes I’ll listen to Nicki Minaj or Dead Mouse – it just depends on my mood. But when I’m in the kitchen working, I need music.

Top 5 favorite foods? (anything goes) (1) Number one would be my grandma’s spaghetti sauce. Even though she’s not alive anymore, that would be my number one, hands down, of all time; (2) I love Thai food and Indian Food, like Pad See Ew and Vegetable Korma; (3) Meatloaf. I don’t know why, but there’s something about it; (4) Obviously chocolate; (5) Cupcakes and desserts.

What is your comfort food? Ice cream. I like coffee and chocolate ice cream.

Are there any foods you won’t eat/try? Oh… no insects or brains, for sure. I’m not really into seafood, so probably nothing seafood-related. And I hate mayo, mustard and ketchup. Anything that those three in it, I will throw away.

What is the last memorable meal you’ve eaten recently? I would say it was probably when my sister, my friend, Carla, and I went to Sweet Potatoes for dinner after a cupcake tasting we had here. We just had so much fun. It’s just nice to have good girl friends – and a sister, obviously.

The ingredient you currently can’t stop using is: Probably cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spices. I love cinnamon; I put it in everything.

You have a day with absolutely no obligations. How do you spend it? I would probably waste part of the day sleeping, laying in bed, or watching TV. I recently took up golfing. My husband has been teaching me, so we would probably go out to the driving range. And then we would go out to dinner.

What kind of cooking do you do at home? I don’t do this often, but I’d do a three-course meal. First there would be lettuce wraps, like PF Change’s, for the appetizer. One of my favorite things to cook at home is potatoes des faire (fancy name for scalloped potatoes), and Lemon Chicken Paillard. I’d try to make Crème Brulee for dessert. We used to go to Print Works Bistro a lot, because we got married at Proximity. And they had that [chicken and potatoes], and I was obsessed with it. That dish was actually the inspiration for my Lemon Rosemary Truffle. 

What are some cooking challenges or techniques you would like to tackle? Making Crème Brulee. I’ve never even tried it, and I know it’s not the easiest thing in the world to make. And making croissants – I’ve always wanted to know how to make a croissant. I don’t think it’s necessarily hard, but rather it’s the time that it takes to make them. But man, they’re so good.

Who is one person you’d love to cook with? My husband. And we do cook together. I usually do the side dishes and he does the main course.

Carrboro Farmers’ Market Potluck Dinner

I am still full. My friend, Colleen, who has masterfully organized TerraVITA, a foodie festival three years running, took on a fundraiser for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market the Thursday before the main TerraVITA event. Twenty of the best chefs around brought dishes to share in a potluck style. The picnic was outside at the market at night, and, though it was cold, we had a wonderful time. But I am still full.

Aaron Vandemark, from Panciuto in Hillsborough, brought parfaits of crisped beef, white sweet potatoes, and cole slaw. It was meaty, fresh, and delicious. Kevin Callaghan, from Acme, brought deviled eggs, squash pickles* [see recipe below], and some of the best macaroni & cheese ever. And speaking of mac & cheese, Jimmy Reale, from the Chapel Hill Country Club, made pimiento mac & cheese… amazing. Vimala Rajendran, from her Curryblossom Café, brought lovely spiced rice and braised butternut squash. Andrea Reusing, from Lantern, brought pork that had been steamed in banana leaf… ridiculously good. There were fantastic meatball sliders contributed by Adam Rose from Il Palio. And on and on and on. For dessert, I enjoyed Bill Smith, from Crook’s Corner’s, banana pudding, and a sweet and fresh muscadine cobbler from Saxapahaw General Store’s Jeff Barney.

Taste Carolina’s Chapel Hill/ Carrboro food tours have been visiting the Carrboro Farmers’ Market just about every Saturday for the last four years, where we arrange for substantial tastings with farmers and vendors. We see all these chefs roaming about, picking up boxes of goods, and chatting with each other, the farmers, and the market-goers. Many times a year the chefs offer cooking demonstrations or tastings at the Market. The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is over 30 years old and often mentioned as one of the best in the country. People love it, and it showed at this dinner.

I rolled home and was asleep a few minutes later. A few hours after that, I woke up and thought that I had never been so full in my life. Later on still, I woke up and couldn’t feel my feet. The food had turned my circulation to sludge, I guess. It was a little scary, but nothing a few glasses of water didn’t cure.

My post-picnic diet lasted a couple of days, but I was fully back by Saturday – at TerraVITA, where I did it all again, just with different dishes. There was less mac & cheese but more pate and chocolate – and plenty of wine.

Acme’s Summer Squash Pickles
1 gallon summer squash, sliced in half moons (not too thin)
6 cups finely sliced sweet onion
1 gallon apple cider vinegar
1 quart water
1 gallon sugar
2 cups pickling spice (recipe follows)
1/3 cup salt
Ice

Mix sliced onions and squash in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and toss. Place onions and squash in a large colander and cover in ice (this helps keep the pickles crisp). Place where it can drain.DSC_0380

After icing the squash, put remaining ingredients into a large non-reactive pot and bring to a simmer. Let aromatics simmer for 30 minutes or so to flavor the vinegar. Strain vinegar mixture and clean pot of any of the pickling spice that may be stuck to the sides. Discard used spices.

Put squash mixture into the non-reactive pot. Add vinegar. There may be more squash than vinegar, but don’t worry. The squash will release water as it cooks. Stirring occasionally, bring back to a simmer and cook briefly. Squash must not be raw but also should not be stewed. Tasting is the only way to know. Adjust salt if necessary.

For us, these are refrigerator pickles. But they can be put up like traditional pickles to enjoy year round.

Pickling Spice
(Store bought is fine and probably cheaper for the home cook. But you will need to add turmeric to intensify the color of the pickles and possibly red pepper flake to give intensity.)
3 T allspice berries
3 T black peppercorns
3 T coriander seeds
2 T hot red pepper flakes
3 T mustard seeds
1 T ground nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
2 T whole cloves
½ cup bay leaves, crumbled
¼ cup fresh ginger, minced
2 T turmeric

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Mary and the Restaurant Business

We met Mary in an earlier post. Her restaurants, Mary’s Of Course and now Breakfast of Course (recently renamed, Mary’s Gourmet Diner), are beloved in Winston-Salem. Mary is grateful to be working in a business she loves while employing her family and many others. Below, she gets real about the ups and downs of the restaurant industry and about being a business owner.

Did you always want to start a business? I wanted to have a restaurant. We used to play restaurant when we were kids. We didn’t eat out much, so it was a treat. I’ve always worked in restaurants because it was easy to come and go with children. With time, I learned how to cook; my mother taught me frugality. Then I started to work in restaurants that were into fine dining, where I learned from chefs. Thirty years ago I decided wanted to open a restaurant, but I didn’t have money. There was no way. I was in my early forties, and I was waiting tables and making good money doing that.

In terms of my dreams, I had two: one was to open a restaurant. The other was to get a degree and help people with substance abuse problems. So I went to a tarot card reader and told her these two things. And she said, “let’s look at them.” The reader said that I would be successful in both, but the restaurant was a blessed venture. But I ignored it and went to school. And yet, I still wanted to open a restaurant. I bugged my parents to put up something for collateral and began to look for a location, but I couldn’t find anything. It was hopeless. So I gave up looking and went back to school. Then a friend came to me that owned a café and said that she would like to sell her café so she could get a medical operation. So, that’s what I did. She got her operation, I got the restaurant. My parents put up their apartment building for collateral so that I could get the loan, which is really awesome because most restaurants don’t make it, but they believed in me.

Do you/did you have other ideas of businesses you want/wanted to start or that you think someone else should start? Any that you’d be willing to share? I’m actually in the process of developing something else, but I don’t know if it’s going to work. I want to have a vegetarian food truck. Vegetarian food is my passion – I love to cook it, and I love to eat it. I didn’t want to open another restaurant; it’s too much overhead. So I am in the process of pursuing it, and we’ll see what happens.

What’s the best thing about owning a business? The best thing is having complete creative license. I get up and go to work; I’m in my 13th year. I go to work every morning and love what I do.

I find that owning a restaurant is like having children – it’s the best thing you’ll ever do, and it’s the worst thing you’ll ever do. It’s that extreme thing all in one. I am so thankful that I get to do what I do. It’s so beautiful and yet so hard. You do it because it’s your passion; there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

I would have been bored as a counselor. As a recovering addict, I need an edge in my life, and I need a challenge. And this is a challenge. It’s never easy, but I guess this is what I like.

Any failure or hardship that you’d be willing to share? I don’t believe in failure. I’m a risk taker by nature. I’m telling you, over the past 13 years there have been so many times where my restaurant was two breaths away from shutting down. I’ve been to the edge so many times… it’s just part of being in business. And I’m sure that any business owner who is honest with you will tell you that. It’s always been hard, and it’s always been a struggle. What we did at the little location [Mary’s Of Course]: it was tiny, off the beaten path; it was crowded, the a/c never worked… it was a magical phenomenon what happened there. No matter what happens, I know that I was successful because we took a tiny corner spot and had lines out the door. We were in Southern Living! There have been so many unexpected things, and it’s so wonderful. So yes, I’ve had many hard times, but so many unexpected things have happened, too.

I see obstacles as a challenge. As long as they don’t lock me out, I am going to keep coming to work every day. You just have to be tenacious and keep going. Woody Allen said something I’ve never forgotten: “90% of success is just showing up.” No matter what, you get up, get in your car, and do your best. Every day I go, I am thankful. I do the best job that I can and put my heart and soul into it.

What’s the best piece or two of advice you would give to entrepreneurs just starting out in the restaurant business? Ask them: 1) Have you ever worked in a restaurant? If they say no, I tell them to go work in a restaurant for five years, in every type of business. People think it’s a glamorous job – it’s not. It’s just plain old hard work. It’s hot in the kitchen, you have to deal with angry customers, and people want money. Nobody understands how it changes when it’s your responsibly. You’re responsible to the city and your partners. Every plate of food that sits in front of a customer… I am responsible for every part of that – the music, the food temperature, etc. My name is on the door, and people associate this business with me, and it’s on my shoulders. So you better have some pretty big shoulders, because it’s a lot of responsibly. Don’t forget about it when you walk out the door, either. It’s with you 24/7. I’m a little bit of an insomniac, and sometimes I’ll wake up and write down ideas and new menus.

The second question I ask people is if it’s their passion. If you are looking to make money, then owning a restaurant is the wrong path.

What do you like best about owning a business in the Triad? Winston-Salem is a city, but it’s a small city. I feel like we were ground breaking 12 years ago. I really like being down on Trade Street now. We have a real tight-knit community in the Arts District; we are all really supportive of each other. My customers are loyal to me. Wake Forest is my number one supporter. There is also Salem College, the School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State, and the community in the Arts District. We also have the working people who come down to eat. Winston is filled with real friendly people. It’s a good place to have a business.

What is your biggest challenge? Right now, especially in this economy, it’s keeping enough people coming in to pay the bills. That’s challenging, keeping all that stuff going forward. People don’t know how much goes on behind the scenes just to keep the place open. There’s so much stuff – the insurance, payroll taxes are huge, to getting someone to come clean the grease trap. We don’t get corporate tax breaks. The city says they want small business, but I don’t think they look at how hard they make it for us with regulations. It’s really difficult. The second challenging thing is dealing with staff issues. But the number one challenge is the financial aspect.

Anything else you’d like to share?  I hope people understand, and this is definitely something that’s come to the forefront: people in our communities need to support local food, which has always been close to my heart because I’m an old hippie. It’s so much better for your body and spirit. They need to support local businesses, no matter if it’s food or a store. If we don’t support these local businesses it’s going to be Applebees and McDonald’s. I wish people would stop shopping at these corporate businesses, but I don’t think it’s heading that direction, especially in the suburbs. Keep our cities live, interesting, and local.

It’s Mary, Of Course

Mary Haglund, owner of Breakfast of Course (Mary’s, Too!) in Winston-Salem, loves to make people happy, and it shows at her restaurant and in her cooking. We asked her about her love of food, people, and North Carolina. Later this week, we’ll post an honest discussion we had with Mary about the ups and downs of being in restaurant business.

Starting with the basics:
Occupation: Owner of Breakfast of Course (Mary’s Too!) in Winston Salem. Where are you from? Gary, Indiana. Same town Michael Jackson was born in, but I was born a little before him. When did you move to North Carolina? Let’s see, I moved to North Carolina about 34 years ago from Indiana.

What do you love best about North Carolina? Well, I’ve been all around the world and did a lot of moving in my life. I came here and it was a beautiful place. Where I am from is flat, but there are hills here. Here, you are four hours from the beach and four hours from the mountains. It’s got everything, especially Winston Salem, which doesn’t have big city problems. North Carolina and Winston Salem – I guess it was a love affair.

What type of music do you listen to when you’re cooking in the kitchen? Jazz, I am a one hundred percent jazz girl. I like the Blue Note Years and some modern stuff.

Top 5 favorite foods? (anything goes) (1) I LOVE really good Mexican food. Not the general Americanized stuff. Along with that, New Mexican food. (2) Curries and Thai food. (3) Love, love, love really good vegetarian food. Creative vegetarian food. I don’t eat a lot of dairy, even. The older I get, I just have to eat lighter food. (4) I love Italian food. (5) I love Mediterranean food.

What is your comfort food? My number one is toast. Toast is such a comfort food, especially with a cup of tea. My favorite thing to cook is soup. I could live for the rest of my life with really good soup. I make all the soups in the restaurant; they are all homemade.

Mary and her husband eating homemade pop tarts

Are there any foods you won’t eat/try? I hate okra. I’m not Southern, and I’ve just never been able to get used to it. It’s slimy. I’ve developed a taste for a lot of Southern things, but that’s just not one of them. Also, I’m not French and I just won’t eat a lot of brains. I don’t like it.

What is the last memorable meal you’ve eaten recently? Quite frankly, I had a great meal last night. I cooked for my (middle) daughter and two of my three grandchildren. It was total comfort food. We had BLTs with tempeh bacon along with mac and cheese and applesauce, and it was just really fun.

The ingredient you currently can’t stop using is: There is an ingredient that I cook with all the time, and it is the New Mexico Hatch Chiles. I get them imported from a woman in Santa Fe. They have such a specific flavor because they are grown in that Mexican climate. The chiles’ combination of peppers are just beautiful. That’s why people get addicted to my different chilis.

You have a day with absolutely no obligations. How do you spend it? I have days like that, which are rare, of course, in this business, and I don’t get to be home as much as I like. My husband, three dogs and I are renovating an old home from the 1920’s, and it is my sanctuary. I love hanging out at home. We just hang out, watch TV, work in the garden… it’s very relaxing.

What do you cook at home that you never cook at the restaurant? I don’t think there’s much of anything because my food is pretty much integrated. I can’t really think of anything. The food we make at the restaurant is pretty reflective of food that I make at home.

What are some cooking challenges or techniques you would like to tackle? Yes! my grandmothers: they were a big influence as far as cooking, and they made the most beautiful pie crusts. My life goal is to make a perfect pie crust before I die, and I’ve tried my whole life. Dough is one of those things where it’s all by feel and you have to know it’s perfect.

Who is one person you’d love to cook with? Right now, because I love Mexican and New Mexican Food so much, I’d love to cook with Rick Bayless (the guy who does Frontera Grill), just so I could learn.