Max and Eli Sussman answer...10 Questions for a Visiting Chef
Max Sussman is the chef de cuisine of Roberta's in Brooklyn. Eli Sussman is a line cook at Mile End Deli in Brooklyn. Spoiler alert: They're brothers, and together they've written This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life, which they'll be in town this weekend to promote (and cook from) at Williams-Sonoma (900 N Michigan Ave) at noon on Saturday, November 10. We asked them to fill out our Visiting Chefs Survey, in which we discovered their hard-line stance on Detroit coney dogs—and much more.
Name Max Sussman
Occupation co-author of This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life; chef de cuisine at Roberta’s
Welcome to Chicago! Why are you here?
We’re here to demo some dishes from our new book, This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life, at Williams-Sonoma on North Michigan Avenue on Saturday, November 10, at 12pm. We’ll also be signing copies, too.
Did you have any fears/anxieties/nervousness about coming to the Midwest? Explain.
Max: No, we’re from Detroit so it’s nice to be back in the area.
True or false: You will be eating at Avec while in town.
Eli: We're open to suggestions!
Where else will you be eating?
We haven’t fully decided yet but Publican and the Girl and the Goat are high up on the list.
The Chicago hot dog—yes or no? (Choose one.)
C. I don’t know what that is.
Max: Definitely YES, there’s no other way.
Eli: No! Unfortunately nothing comes close to a coney dog invented and perfected in Detroit. Sorry Chicago, but downtown Detroit is home to the original.
What does Chicago have that your home city doesn’t have?
Max: We live in New York, and I think Chicago has more of that laidback feel that the Midwest is known for. I’m looking forward to being back.
What does your home city have that Chicago doesn’t have?
Eli: Our home city of Detroit has coney islands basically on every single corner. Detroiters never shut up about how much they love coneys and for good reason. They are these awesome Greek diner/deli 24hour joints that have burgers and fries but also these amazing Greek salads and chicken finger pitas, gyros and saganaki. They are the best place to hang out after going out drinking or to get a fast lunch. There's nothing like them and so far they haven't really expanded or done well outside of Detroit.
Tell us an interesting story from your childhood.
Max: One time we were on a family vacation in Maine. Eli and I were being brats. They told us they were going for a bike ride and we needed to shape up or we were going home that night. So while they were gone we decided to make them dinner. I was about twelve years old and Eli would have been about ten. So we decided to make them a three-course dinner. Eli acted like the maitre d', sat them, poured them wine while I cooked most of the food. They forgave us pretty quickly. There are a few pictures of the night in the digital iPad version of the cookbook.
Tell us a funny/interesting/frightening tale about your restaurant.
Eli: I used to work brunch service and it’s a very early morning to get started. We get there around 7:15am for 10am service. And often it's a very, very late-night the night before. Everyone's tired and cranky and hungover and then we get slammed and usually do over 200 covers in a six-hour brunch service so it’s pretty frantic and hectic. Everyone’s gotta be a team or else we just fall apart. In order to rally the other cooks, I always liked to play a super obnoxious song before service. So one beautiful Sunday right before service, I cranked the Shania Twain Pandora station and was singing "It Feels like A Woman" [Ed. note, let the record state that this song is actually called "Man! I Feel Like A Woman"] at the top of my lungs to help put everyone in a good mood. I was facing the staff but didn't realize behind me outside we had about a 30-person line already waiting and they were all listening to me sing Shania Twain loudly and passionately. I'm willing to publicly embarrass myself any day as long as it gets a laugh.
Fill in the blank: If I had just one more day in Chicago, I’d use it to __________.
Max: If I had just one more day in Chicago, I’d use it to hang out with my friends who live there; friends I don’t get to see enough.
Eli: If I had one more day in Chicago I'd wake up, convince my best friend to steal his dad's sportscar, bust my girlfriend out of school, drive downtown, see a baseball game, go to the Chicago art museum, impersonate a sausage king and eat dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town, narrowly avoid my father in the cab next to me and sing on a float in a parade.