To celebrate the launch of our new brand, OpenTable is giving away 100 dinners, in 30 cities, all on one unforgettable night — learn more about the giveaway here. We asked a select number of participating restaurants to share responses to 10 questions about the passions we all share: food and dining.
After stints as sous chef at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar, Johanna Ware returned to Portland to open her own restaurant, smallwares, which serves “inauthentic Asian” food that is eclectic yet refined. Since smallwares opened, Johanna has been named Eater’s Chef of the Year and has been nominated as a Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef in 2013 and 2014. Here are Johanna’s 10 questions for #100opentables.
1. A meal that changed your life
I was always really into food and my mom loved to cook and take me out to special places. I think I was always really excited to eat new things. When I was 16 my mom’s friend took us to Charlie Trotter’s and we had a 16-course meal. The service and food blew my mind! We still have copies of that menu.
2. Your break-out moment (in the past or to come)
I think opening smallwares, but I still don’t really think I have broken out yet…
3. In good company: Your dream dinner guests
At this point, my whole family from both sides. It has been a really long time since we were all together, and we all love to eat, drink, and have a good time.
4. The moment that inspired your current path
My first cooking job was at a cheesecake bakery. We would make, package, and deliver like 200 of them a day. I was really fast and organized and one day I thought, wow, maybe I can do this professionally.
5. Everyone’s a critic / On getting panned
I really try and look at criticism in a constructive way. You get good at knowing who actually knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t.
6. The advice that has meant the most to you
Always second-guess your food and constantly push a dish to be better.
7. Last supper / desert island meal
My mom’s BBQ baby back ribs, twice-baked potatoes, and her creamed spinach, washed down with a funky white wine.
8. The future of food is…
The future of food is hopefully continuing to educate ourselves on how to balance supply and demand.
9. How you want to be remembered
Honestly, I just think about the now.
10. On what keeps you sane or drives you crazy
Drives me crazy: taking the last of something at the restaurant and not telling me! Keeps me sane: still trying to figure that one out…