Chef Eric Heath of Cleveland-Heath Calls Edwardsville "An Awesome Place"
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"It's a lot of housemade stuff," he says of the menu there. "They do their own pastas, their own dressings, their own soups and all that. Really, they did a lot of basics. There was no sous vide-ing. We just put out good, quality food."
As important to Heath's development as the cuisine was the atmosphere. His bosses encouraged both his creativity -- he found himself in charge of the daily dinner special -- and his professional development, allowing him to work at other local restaurants.
And, of course, it was at the Desert Edge Brewery that Heath met Cleveland. Not only did they share a love of food, cooking and restaurants, but their respective career plans were very compatible.
One day, Heath explains, "We were sitting in Jenny's apartment, and she asked me what I really wanted to do. I said I'd really like to go to culinary school. And she'd been wanting to go since she was a teenager. At that moment, it was like: Drop everything and go."
The two were accepted into the same class of the Culinary Institute of America's Napa Valley, California, campus. While Heath allows that the grueling workload -- 35 hours a week in class, plus the 70 hours he worked as a sous chef in a local restaurant -- made for some "shitty days," on the whole it was a great experience.
"The amount of stuff you get to see, the product they bring in -- they're not shy about buying anything. We did a caviar tasting of nineteen different caviars. And the equipment! CVaps and combi ovens and tilt skillets -- you'll never see all that stuff at once again in your life. And you'll get to use it and abuse it!"