A relatively recent addition to Broadway’s revitalized restaurant scene is Red Restaurant, and the best time to hit Red might be during the thriving Wednesday farmer’s market. Why? The establishment, once featured in the New York Times’ list of must-hit bay area eateries ,picks up their summer vegetables from the produce trucks you see lining the street. You quite literally cannot get veggies fresher than this without pulling them out of the dirt yourself.
The restaurant is owned by Cheri Shade, an entrepreneur who says that before Red she never owned a restaurant. Her explanation for the change of heart? “I had a really big birthday and lost my mind,” she laughed.
She says she’s been managing the place now for two and a half years. Before this she’d run a string of clubs, “night clubs and health clubs,” but she’s quite pleased with the results of her venture.
As for the menu? It’s eclectic. They boast avocado tempura and a pork belly dish, each for advocates of salads and appetizers. Every week they have a different steak schedule and the Sous-Chef told us that at the moment they were serving fried ravioli and bacon wrapped dates for appetizers.
Wednesday is pizza night. They’ve just unleashed a Neapolitan dough they’d been working on for the better part of a year, and it seems to be a crowd pleaser, according to the chef, “They bake in six minutes and they’re super-easy to do and everything’s hand-rolled out to order. They’ve just taken off! I’m doing 10, 30, 40 pizzas a night, and there’s a pizza place two buildings down from us. They’ll come here on Wednesday’s instead.”
The current menu is a bit smaller than it used to be. The team is trying to source what they can from the farmer’s market, but they also listen to customer feedback when choosing specials or writing up a new menu. Having only 24 to 25 items makes the process a bit simpler to prep. Perhaps the coolest thing you’ll find in the kitchen is their apprenticeship program with Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay.
The Red kitchen typically runs with a rotation of three chefs, but patron Rashad Cobb, Career and Development coordinator with the club, asked them if they’d be willing to take on another. Every six months the Boys and Girls Club sends over one of the teens in their program for an apprenticeship under the master chefs at Red’s.
These kids were serious about picking up the skills of the trade, “The one kid that’s in here now,” chef said “he want’s to cook. He wants to be a chef. He asks a ton of questions, he’s super-motivated. I mean he can’t do too much. He’s only 16. But we’ve got him busy back there. And he’s learning. And watching a kid like that try food that he’s never had before, that he probably wouldn’t ever have unless he’s working in a kitchen, that’s a pretty good feeling.”
“That Kid” is 16 year old Dominic Yang.
SCENE: We’ve been told you’re working with Red through the Boys and Girls Club Green Bay. What kind of program is it?
Yang: So I was talking to Rashad, [on] the staff of the Boys and Girls Club. I was like, “Yeah. I want a cooking job.” And he was like, “Oh, really?” So he told me about this one right here: Red. And I said, “All right. Sure, I’ll give it a shot.” I actually really like it. I’m here about twice a week, whenever they need me. Actually, Rashad told me [the program is] about 300 hours, then after that they’ll hook me up with a more challenging job.
SCENE: What do you do here?
YANG: All I’m doing is prepping. But then I don’t cook back there [in the restaurant]. I cook right here though [in Red’s farmer’s market stall].
SCENE: What’s the next step is for you?
Yang: Actually I still have two more years in high school. So probably after that I’m going to go straight to college. I don’t know which college though. They say that Fox Valley Tech is pretty good. I probably won’t stay here; if not I’m going to get another culinary job.
SCENE: What do you really like about cooking?
Yang: You can make whatever you like basically. Like specials. You can make whatever you want. Like hamburgers. You can make it right then and there. You just make whatever you want.