Q&A with Chef Jay Pierce

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Chef Jay Pierce (courtesy photo)

Chef Jay Pierce came to the Triad in 2006, working first at Lucky 32 and most recently at the Traveled Farmer, which closed in December. On June 2, he debuts as Mozelle’s new executive chef at the restaurant’s Texas Pete Festival booth.

What do you love about Mozelle’s?
They have a sterling reputation in town and it’s just so intimate; it’s cozy. All the details are attended to and so cared for that you feel like you’re in a big city, it’s this tiny, little big-city place. I’ve never been to Europe, but the stereotype is that everything is run by a proprietor who takes tremendous pride and it’s like welcoming you into their home and that’s what it feels like at Mozelle’s.

What is your favorite dish on the current menu?
The wine-friendly dishes are really the key to that menu. A lot of people rave about the wine list, but I think the food goes hand in hand. You know, you can have good wine at home but to have a wine and food experience, your best bet is to go out and trust someone who’s got a proven track record for taking care of you.

What changes can patrons expect under your leadership?
Lightening up some of the dishes; we need more dishes that are white wine-friendly without changing the complexion of the menu or radically altering what people are looking for. Additionally, more folks are choosing to forego meat so having this modular cuisine where the dishes work without the meat component is the key to the way people eat now and we want to explore that more. Jennifer and I are of the same mind — just because it says “Southern” doesn’t mean only pork and grits and pimiento cheese. They have their place, but they shouldn’t be on every plate.

Why is the farm-to-table model important to you?
To me, it’s always been disconcerting that this food magically appears at your back door on this big truck in these pretty boxes when there’s people in your community who are following their own dreams of making pickles or raising pigs or growing strawberries. It’s a way to multiply your effect on the community, too. We’re not idealistic to the point that it hinders the restaurant experience or the profitability of a restaurant, but we want to make the smart decisions that make a difference to our guests. No one wants to eat at a “Portlandia” episode.

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