Nosh Talk: Hugh Groman, Phil’s Sliders

Hugh Groman

Hugh Groman has no secrets when it comes to junk food

Nosh Talk is a regular Q&A with an East Bay chef, restaurateur or food artisan, published on Berkeleyside Nosh, in which we snoop for inside intelligence…

What is always in your refrigerator?
Eggs, aged cheddar, orange juice, cranberry juice, and produce from our weekly Full Belly Farms delivery. But, honestly, there wouldn’t be any food in there at all if it weren’t for my husband. I work all the time and would probably just eat out if left to my own devices.

What do you cook up for a late night snack?
I love making a shake of frozen bananas, milk and unsweetened cocoa. It is a completely satisfying and guilt-free dessert.

Where/what do you eat on your day off?
I love to eat at Tacubaya on Fourth Street, or Venus in downton for a delicious brunch or dinner, or Cha Am for yummy Thai food, or Café Rouge, or Kitchen 388 in Oakland, or 900 Grayson for lunch. I love Gather. I love Kirin Chinese on Solano or Shen Hua on College. The house-fried wontons at both of those places are incredible. We just tried Potala which has vegan Tibetan food and it was delicious. Fentons is a lifelong family favorite.

Do you have a secret ‘junk food’ vice?
I have many ‘junk food’ vices, and I don’t keep it a secret. I used to love KFC or Popeye’s, but I think my standards on quality meat have knocked those off my list. Fried chicken and waffles are amazing. Kit Kats and Reeses are always delicious. I love It’s It’s. And I was drinking Rosé shamelessly long before it became trendy again.

Any food you can’t stand?
I’m just not interested in oysters or most organ meats. I chewed down on my first oyster and that ruined it for me. And organ meats are just so rich and odd.

What is your fantasy ‘last meal?’
I think it would be a multi-course meal involving the house-fried wontons from Kirin, then fried chicken and waffles, a perfect piece of bacon, and then a half of a crab sandwich and a small sundae from Fentons. I’m hoping I could avoid the stomachache since it’s my last meal…

What ingredient is overused and needs to be retired?
Well, this doesn’t answer the question directly, but I think calling things “dust” or “twigs” on menus should never have been allowed in the first place. How does selling food items as having “porcini dust” or cereal with “twigs” make you more inclined to eat them?

What is the next big thing?
I resist the whole issue of trends in food. Good food is good food. We are so lucky to have great food from everywhere in the world available to us here. People say, “Let’s not go get Chinese food, I had that yesterday.” Well, in China they have it every day! So get over it!

Your favorite special meal to cook?
I love to grill a high-quality New York Strip with lots of kosher salt and pepper, and serve it with crisp potatoes and sauteed spinach and delicious red wine. So satisfying.

Favorite restaurant in the world?
I have a hard time answering this one… I’ve often said that Delfina in San Francisco is my favorite though… I love the simplicity, style, and commitment to quality.

Who would you like to have dinner with (alive or dead)?
Me, Oprah, Hillary, Ru Paul, Dolly Parton — and Antonio Sabato Jr. He could be the dessert. :)

A food tip/secret/ to share with readers?
People seem to struggle with making salad dressing. I would say a good rule of thumb is 1 part vinegar to 4 parts oil. I think many people use too much vinegar. And don’t forget salt and pepper, and maybe some dijon mustard, brown sugar, garlic or shallots.

Hugh Groman is the owner of Hugh Groman Catering, Greenleaf Platters and Phil’s Sliders, all based in Berkeley. He got his start in the food business when he burned down his parents’ kitchen making homemade potato chips unsupervised at age 7.

Read previous Nosh Talks:
Suzanne Drexhage: Bartavelle [02.06.13]
Rebecca Bernstein, Oggi Restaurant & Wine Bar [01.15.13]
Scott Miller: Market Hall Foods [01.07.13]
Fabrizio Cercatore: Hot Italian [12.24.12]
Rick Hackett, Bocanova [12.03.12]
Matt Gandin, Comal [11.14.12]

Related:
Burgers with a twist: New restaurant to open downtown [05.06.11]

Follow Berkeleyside NOSH at berkeleyside.com/nosh, on Twitter at @ebnosh, and on Facebook. Contact us at nosh@berkeleyside.com

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  • Julie

    Now that I’ve read this interview, I love Phil’s Sliders even more than I did before.

  • serkes

    Ahhh . for a White Castle slider some day

  • MRhoades

    Phil’s are WAAAAY better sliders! And by the way – the tater tots are by far the best I have ever had. MMM. Lunch today…

  • Chris J

    I would frequent Phil’s more frequently if downtown Berkeley had more reasons to draw me in there–bookstores, comics, good restaurants, check. Grocery store? No check. Parking if I drive? No check.

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    trader joes is pretty much downtown

  • Chris J

    Not close enuff for some folks

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    ? trader joes is only about 3-4 blocks from philz.

  • Chris J

    If I lived downtown, TJs would be my only choice– and it simply doesn’t cut the mustard as a grocery store–might as well be a 7-11 with all its pkgd ready to eat K rations.