City Paper is not for tourists
John Wabeck, executive chef at Firefly
Are you having a good year?
Yeah, not too bad. A couple of trips, drank some wine, went to BdC [Bistrot du Coin] about 125 times.
The list of restaurants you’ve worked at includes Red Sage, Nora, New Heights, Bar Rouge, and Topaz – and they all pretty much fell apart after you left. How did you sabotage them? And were you competitive as a child?
Sabotage implies intentional, no? I have kind of fond to very fond memories of all of the above. I’ve been to 80 percent of this list in the last year. The other 20 percent, I distinctly remember the last time I was there…December of ’01. I was a little competitive as a kid. Nowhere near as bad as now.
You are known as much for your wine program as for your cooking. Is the restaurant merely a front to try and buy a lot of wine?
I don’t have any friends, so the more wine I buy, the more my wine reps fake liking me.
Plenty of places feature rose now. Not just us. Drinking rose says I don’t like being thirsty. The ladies seem to like guys who drink rose. So I’m OK with that.
And why did you choose to make your mark with white zin? Does Wham! feature prominently in the music rotation during happy hour?
Unfortunately someone beat me to that. Some big company has made a crapload off of selling sweetened crap. We do have other wines besides this “white zin” you speak of. How do I comment on Wham! without a libel suit? No, Wham! is not in our current music rotation because it sucks. Can’t please everyone, I guess…
Once. I used to play Saturdays at my house after BdC a lot, used to kick [former Firefly manager] Derek Brown’s ass all the time.
Why only once? Are you scared of the street?
Those guys are good at what they do. There’s some big hitters that play there, plus I don’t like quick games. And I don’t like losing money.
What’s your street-chess nickname?
If I had a nickname, it would be “tall dumbass that always opens with D4.”
What’s the best dish you are serving right now?
Roasted duck breast with peaches, chard, and ginger-orange vinaigrette.
What’s your favorite local restaurant right now?
Bistrot du Coin.
Favorite dish this year?
Something Eric Ziebold did with pig a couple of months ago.