Chef Chat, Part 2: John Schenk of Strip House

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Yesterday, we chatted with Executive Chef John Schenk of Strip House about overseeing so many kitchens. Today, we take a look at what's going on in them.

EOW: What is the toughest part about cooking a top-notch steak?

JS: For me, when I'm working the broiler, it's keeping it all together as to what the temps are. You've got so much meat on there. It's funny because people always say, 'how do you know when it's done or not'? If you talk to any good broiler guy, they'll say the same thing. It just feels like it's done. It's a sixth sense.

EOW: What's your most popular Houston menu item?

JS: The 8-ounce filet for sure, followed by the strip steak.

EOW: Is there anything unique you do to the steaks here?

JS: We're known for charring steak. That's just lightly coating it with an 80/20 blend of canola/olive oil. We grind our pepper to a certain coarseness. That's just about finding the right pepper. We actually ship our pepper from New York. We find that at different locations, the pepper is hotter. New York has very little heat and a lot of flavor, whereas the pepper in Las Vegas is extremely spicy.

EOW: Can you tell me about this 24 Layer Chocolate Cake?

JS: I call it Frankenstein, only because you build it, and until you cut into it, you really don't know what you have. It's like until you turn on that juice, you hope what you got works (laughs). That's a real skill set. If I had to make all the cakes, they wouldn't be so popular. I am not skilled at the layering and everything that goes into it.

EOW: Whose idea was this cake?

JS: Peter (founder) and Penny Glazier years ago wanted a signature large chocolate cake. Check back tomorrow as I try the cake and a few other dishes coming out of the Strip House kitchen.

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