Inside the Kitchen at Chef John’s European Café & Bakery in Ludington
“I make all the bread, the bread you get on your sandwiches is made that day and that makes a big difference in the flavor profile,” described John Stapleton, the owner of Chef John’s European Café & Bakery.
That means John starts his day at the Ludington restaurant by 3 a.m. every day.
“And I start this mixer, and I start that mixer, and I start that mixer over there, and I start that mixer over there, too,” he said.
“White, rye, pumpernickel, multigrain, sour dough, apple cinnamon, baguettes, 1903,” he explained.
He said he was just going to do sandwiches and stay in the front half of the building.
“But people kept asking me to do more things and then next thing you know,” he went on to say.
Now Chef John’s has an expanded kitchen and an expanded menu.
“It’s not like super traditional, but it’s like, I think it’s better the way John does it and it’s his recipe,” said line cook Carlyle Peterson.
Carlyle says the Cuban sells out in a day or two when it’s on the menu.
“The pickled jalapeños and the crunchiness of the pickled carrots, the subtleness of the mustard,” Carlyle started to say.
Carlyle says John has a sixth sense about what flavors go well together.
It’s something John has practiced his whole life.
“Remember you used to get those wooden Pepsi crates, I don’t know take three of those and stack them up and I’d stand on that and help my dad cook and my mother cook breakfast and dinner,” John laughed.
Even more than the flavors though, the freshness in every single meal.
“I go to the grocery store every day to buy produce for sandwiches and soups,” he said.
Manager Wendy Wilmore says that’s crucial for the savory and the sweet.
“The flavor, the freshness, you can feel the flakiness when you’re ready to take a bite, so I just think it makes a huge difference,” Wendy explained.
When the last lunch is served, it’s time to do it all over again, just like john has done for decades.
“When that’s done I’ll come back here and get set up for tomorrow,” John said.
You can visit Chef John’s European Café and Bakery at 110 W. Filer Street in Ludington, or call them at 231-843-3327.
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