Century House Tavern
125 East Main St. Woodstock, GA
Chef Daniel Porubiansky of Woodstock, GA’s Century House Tavern is one of the most interesting chefs in the Atlanta metro area, and probably the most seasoned chef in the entire northern suburbs.
Go ahead, laugh at the burbs, say what you want, but nobody can deny that this incredibly talented chef packs some serious pedigree — and he’s brought his A-game to Woodstock, of all places.
I recently caught up with Porubiansky (finally, after all these years) to chat and get a deeper look into his culinary journey that has brought him to an unlikely small suburban town.
And here is what he had to say.
Q: A lot of people knew you came from Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia, but few of us knew that you also worked under Guenter Seeger. What were the major differences between these two amazing chefs, in your opinion, and what tools did you take from each?
A: Chef Seeger is my mentor and I was under his tutelage for a total of 10 years, both at The Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton Buckhead and at Seeger’s proper. Chef Seeger taught me to respect the beautiful ingredients that we as chefs get to use and how to properly handle them. To appreciate how hard the farmer works to get us fresh produce and how hard the fisherman works to get us fresh, pristine seafood. We can not do what we do with out them. You can not make a great dish out of a mediocre product. He instilled in me an impeccable work ethic and a passion for cooking. Chef Seeger saw potential in me and molded me into who I am as a chef today. He sent me to New York and Germany for a total of four years to further my education in the culinary field. His simplistic approach to food is what I practice in my own kitchen.
Anne Quatrano created the position of Executive Chef at Bacchanalia and entrusted me with responsibilities that were not just cooking. My organizational skills came into play as I was responsible for ordering dry goods, seafood, meats, dairy, and produce for all five of her restaurants. Bacchanalia was the receiving commissary for all of the other restaurants and then the products in turn would be sent out to the other restaurants. I learned a tremendous amount about the art of Charcuterie and became quite good at eliminating waste. Anne and her partner Clifford have their own farm that supplies the restaurants with beautiful produce, that further continued my appreciation for locally farmed produce and other great products.
Q: You worked with an extremely talented crew (Dave Roberts, Shaun Doty, Gary Mennie and Todd Immel) during your stint at The Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton under Seeger, and all of you went on to do great things. Looking back now, what was it like working with that type of young firepower?
A: That was the best kitchen crew I have ever worked with in my entire life. We, as a collective group, managed to attain the coveted Mobil 5-star rating for The Dining Room for the first time . There was only one ego in the kitchen and that belonged to Chef Seeger. The rest of us, just plain and simple, worked our asses off every day for one common team goal; be the best we could be and help make the best possible food. It worked very well and we are all still friends.
Q: A city chef of your caliber just ups and goes to the burbs. What are the biggest challenges of cooking way out here as opposed to cooking under the big city lights?
A: Some of the challenges we face out here in the suburbs is we do not usually get our deliveries as early as we would being inside the perimeter. Most companies charge a delivery fee or a fuel surcharge for coming out here. Also, some of them will not deliver on certain days and others will require a minimum amount of money to deliver as well. If we refuse a product due to a quality issue, I may not get a replacement until the next day — causing me to be out of a particular item. I also find that price points and portion size need to be adjusted out here.
Q: It seems that you are beyond local with your ingredients in fact, I’d call it hyper local. Is this out of necessity or by plan?
A: I like products that are grown as close to the restaurant as possible. There is much less of a carbon foot print and doing commerce in your own community keeps the money in your community. We are supporting our neighbors and quite frankly, I believe the food is fresher; hence tastes better than something shipped from across the country. I want Century House Tavern to be known for its sourcing of local ingredients.
Q: What are some of the major things you try to instill in your chefs who work under you? And, what words of advice do you have for any young aspiring chefs reading this?
A: I instill in my chefs to appreciate and to respect the wonderful, local produce we receive. They need to know how hard a farmer works to grow some of the amazing things they bring us.They need to be on time and give 100% each and every day. I try to instill the same work ethic in them that I learned from my mentor. I lead by example.
My advice to young chefs is to ask questions, write things down, remember the good, forget the bad, work hard — real hard, pay attention, stay off your damn cell phone, stay passionate, and have fun in what you do. Because if you love what you do — it will show in your food!