I met Avery through work, and after hearing tidbits of her fascinating life–living in France for a year, staging at Per Se, baking bread at Manresa, moving across the country spur of the moment, just to name a few examples–I followed her around like a puppy dog to learn more about her fascinating life. As a baker, chef, and college graduate, she has some really great insight into life, living for the moment and enjoying yourself in the kitchen!
Kelsey Krasnigor: You’ve traveled quite a bit, so what is your favorite food city/location?
Avery Ruzicka: New York City. I am a night owl and the late night options that actually offer something delightful and exciting to eat at 2 a.m. make it my favorite city for food.
KK: Working at a restaurant, can mean some late, stressful nights. I hear that the kitchen crew will often go out for a drink afterwards…so we’re curious- what’s your best hangover cure?
AR: Water post drinking always. At the bar, before you go to bed, when you roll over in the middle of the night. But the best hangover cure is to pull an all “nighter;” drink till dawn and then go out for a big breakfast.
KK: It’s a late night and you head to the bar- what’s your drink order?
AR: Bourbon on the rocks.
KK: Since you have experienced fine dining, hole-in-the-wall places, and “in-between” restaurants, I’m curious to know, what would you order for your last meal?
AR: A fried egg sandwich. There is something comforting about the combination of toasted sourdough bread, and an over easy egg with the edges crisp and crinkly.
KK: Favorite dish to eat at the end of a long day?
AR: Carnitas with fresh guacamole and corn tortillas.
KK: Yum city. Inviting myself over for the future…What is your favorite meal?
AR: My mothers meat loaf with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. My mother’s only of course!
KK: Good answer, don’t want to offend Mom! What was the last thing you cooked?
AR: Grilled chicken and spanish tortillas with Sangria for friends.
KK: (Do you peeps see why I’m enamored yet?) Yum. As a fellow gal of the kitchen, tell us why you love to cook/bake?
AR: I get to create and others get to enjoy. What could be better?
KK: So, I want to delve a bit more into the cooking and restaurant world. As a chef, you have to cook and try out lots of things, but I’m pretty sure we all have things we just aren’t fans of- Is there anything you won’t eat? Or don’t particularly like eating?
AR: Post fois gras ban, it might not be so P.C. to say, but I don’t really care for fois gras. I appreciate its flavor and texture. I value it as a product but I am simply not that interested in eating it.
KK: Gasp! (I say this only because I’m an admitted meat lovah) You have staged at Per Se and worked at Manresa, two well-known fine dining establishments, how does working there compare to working at run-of-the-mill restaurants? Any amazing stories or moments you have to share with us?
AR: Per Se and Manresa are both in a class of their own. The greatest joy of working in both of these restaurants is your coworkers. The access to amazing product is inspiring but I find the joy of surrounding yourself with like-minded people the best part of being at both restaurants. Type A, detail-oriented, driven, and passionate people make for a wonderful day at work.
KK: What’s it like to be a woman in the back of the house? Any tips?
AR: I honestly don’t notice a difference between kitchens with a high ratio of male to female chefs versus the reverse. I think it is about the individuals more than the gender.
KK: That’s wonderful to hear. So, I’m curious about when you cook on your own. Do you use recipes?
AR: I use recipes with regards to ratios be it bread or a jelly set with agar. (Avery makes seriously AMAZING gluten-free bread. I would live off of the bread if it were possible). Flavors are balanced by taste but some aspects of cooking require correct portions.
KK: Any mess ups that you may have had early on when cooking? Be it on your own or in a kitchen?
AR: I left the salt out of a bread once. It did not end well for the bread.
KK: Sounds like something I would do (and possibly may have done…), so when you do use recipes, what’s your favorite go-to cookbook?
AR: The Tartine Bread book. I can look at it endlessly for inspiration and I love to cook from it as well. The recipes are easy to follow and alway produce great results.
KK: Did you cook a lot during college? Any tips to eating healthy or just general cooking/baking tips for when you’re in college?
AR: I did. Simple items: veggies, soups, sandwiches. I tended to find one meal that I found really satisfying to eat and then eat it every day. I love sandwiches…to my own detriment.
KK: Do you prefer baking or cooking? Why?
AR: If I had to do only one for the rest of my career I would bake. I love the time alone in the kitchen. The interaction–relationship even–one has with the bread. You have to read its mood, pay attention to its needs. If you work at that relationship you will be rewarded with wonderfully complex bread that you can then share with others. I love cooking because it takes me out of myself. It pushes me to continuously learn new techniques, flavor combinations, approaches to food, every day.
KK: Ok one last question- One thing you wish someone had told you earlier in life? Be it regarding school, life, travel, food, etc.?
AR: No one is as invested in you as you. That is to say the only person who really cares if you are not perfect is you. Take big risks and you might fail on a large scale but the world around you probably will not even notice you fell on your face and you might have learned what you are made of by getting up and trying again.
Kelsey Krasnigor obviously has a very large I Love You, Man friendcrush on Avery and will be self-inviting herself over for future dinners!