Chef Chat, Part 2: Joe Apa of Rudz

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Take an awesome chef and put him in a pub, and you get a creative environment with a bar full of good beers. It's like giving the Eagles Mariachi instruments -- you know it's going to rock but in another environment. We had a blast chatting with him this week at Rudyard's.

At several high profile events featuring popular Houston chefs like Monica Pope and Randy Evans, Apa has been the man behind the scenes, the guy you don't hear enough about, making things happen. He has even worked on James Beard dinners.

Apa is a chef's chef, totally focused on using local ingredients and beers, and he's humble about his endeavors. Not to mention, this guy is just a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with. Ask Joe one question and he will tell you a 20-minute story. Just ask him about his cats.

We sat at Rudz for a couple of hours tasting beers like Real Ales Full Moon Rye and Hennepin. Apa talked about how he sources beers from D&Q and Spec's. He disappeared for a few moments and made a muffaletta pizza that was epic, which he's doing just in February. "I don't know why nobody has thought of this before," Joe said as I crammed the magnificent pizza into my mouth.

EOW: What's your favorite ingredient?

JA: Chiles and peppers in the summer, and garlic and onions in the winter.

EOW: What would be your last meal on earth?

JA: Really good salami, olives, cheese and bread. Pappardelle with pork ragu. Bittersweet chocolate torte and fresh berries.

EOW: What do you want to do for the next beer tasting?

JA: I would like to do something with Southern Star. They have a brewery in Conroe.

EOW: Have you ever been to the brewery?

JA: You know what? I haven't.

EOW: Let's go right now?

JA: Okay!

Joe picked up his phone, and minutes later we were finishing our beers and heading north on 45 in Apa's '89 BMW. Check back tomorrow to see what happened on our trip.

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