This week Chef Brad Spence of Amis talks flying sausage, and gives us a peek into his fridge at home.
Looking at this fridge, and the lack of any juice-boxes, I’m going to guess that you have a wife, but no kids.
I have two kids! My son is three and my daughter is 18-months. They kind of eat what we eat. When they were little they’d be out in Chinatown with us.
Tell me about the Bailey’s. It’s the non-alcoholic kind right?
Yeah, me and my wife love that. If I’m drinking coffee, 99 percent of the time its espresso. But my wife loves it. And I’ve come to love it over the past year.
I see that big, yellow watermelon. Do you have any good recipe ideas for it?
I grabbed one cause my son loves fruit. When it comes to fruit he’s a bottomless pit. But we were making yellow watermelon cocktails at Amis: mixing it with a little citrus, Bluecoat gin and a little bit of mint.
It seems like your crew has a good time at Amis. The Facebook posts are always a riot. And the best part is that you kind of know that it’s not a PR person taking the pictures.
No, it’s me! I do all the Facebook and all the Twitter stuff. We try to make it fun. We’re serious about the food and the service, but we try to have a good time. That’s the way we are in the kitchen, that’s the way we are in the front of the house. And we take ridiculous pictures and post them. People seem to like it. Some people get freaked out, but its just fun.
Who gets freaked out? If you have to explain why it’s hysterical, then I guess they just don’t get it.
So on the first Monday of every month, Amis hosts an industry night for the city’s service industry people. How far ahead do you usually begin planning?
Sometimes we’ll have people lined up. But as soon as the last one is done we start talking about who we want to ask. We try to match up with the season and let the inviting group decide the theme.
And this Monday you’re hosting Shake Shack.
So since it’s summertime, everyone loves a backyard BBQ. And I’m from Jersey and I love the Jersey shore. And they’re just kind of a modern-day roadside stand, so we’re going to do boardwalk food.
Tell me about the menu. It looks like you have a sausage sandwich, Spanky’s Tomato Pie and some fries lined up. Who’s Spanky?
Spanky was my nickname growing up. I love tomato pie. And I started making it here a couple years ago. My dream one day is to be old and open up a tomato pie shop and call it Spanky’s Tomato pie. So we’re doing that. And old-school Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches with rolls from Delbouno’s in Jersey. I’ve been going there for years. We’re doing old bay French fries, and we’re renting a snow cone machine and making some syrups.
Shake Shack is doing the Shackburger, an Industry Night dog, and two different versions of the frozen custards.
How many Industry Nights have you done? Which was your favorite?
We’ve been doing them for at least two years. I think my favorite one, because he was an old buddy of mine, was with Jonathan Benno. He used to be the chef at Per Se and now he’s got a place up in New York called Lincoln. It was also fun to do Le Bec-Fin. Perrier was here and he was wasted. And Nick [Elmi] was still the chef. The first one we did with Michael Solo was fun. And the one with Han Dynasty was fun. They’ve all been great.
Who haven’t you been able to coordinate with yet, that you want to an Industry Night with?
You know who I’d love to do, to tell you the truth? I’d love to do it with one of the old-school, South Philly Italian American joints. Like Villa di Roma or one of those guys. Some of them have been doing really good food for a long time. And they don’t get the recognition they disserve sometimes because the’ve been around forever. I love eating at those places, and to me, when Italian American food is done well, its soul food.
What else is going on in the Brad Spence/Amis world?
Were doing the Flugtag. Me and my GM, Martin [Cugine] first started talking about it, and then I started tweeting about it like a joke. And so we applied and we got it!
Were going to build a flying sausage. We have some architects that are regulars that are involved and some sponsors. Were making it out of lightweight pine and a couple parachutes to coat it with. It’s pretty serious: we’re getting it professionally designed and we’ve got a lot of help building it.
Just keeping the restaurant going. We change the menu about four times a year but what’s been really popular lately is Beast of Amis. We get whole animals in and make three courses. Each purveyor has a chance to get a whole animal in, the staff learns to butcher a whole animal. And it gets me in touch with my artistic side: I draw the artwork on the chalkboard. Right now it’s a cartoon lamb. But it’s a good way to utilize the whole animal with no waste.
With Flugtag flying into the Delaware River in September, two Industry Nights between now and then, and countless beasts to be illustrated and devoured, Amis has tons of good things to come.
Thanks to Chef Brad for letting CityEats raid your fridge!