Celtic Crossing Staff Spotlight: Sherry Gaines & Madeleine O'Kelly
Will joined us in 2013 and recently took over as head chef in July 2015. Since his promotion, he has appeared on numerous cooking segments (click here to watch.)
KM: It is our first official blog post, why don’t you give us an official intro, Chef?
WR: My name is William Jackson Renick, Jr. Wow, you really don’t get a more Southern name than that. You’ve got all your Steel Magnolias covered there. I’m 37 years old and from Ashland, MS.
KM: How did you begin your culinary journey?
WR: I started cooking when I was at Ole Miss, at what was referred to as the redneck Greek restaurant. We took traditional Greek food and deep fried it all. It was so fun, working back there in the kitchen with the other low lives. My sister was a waitress out front and I was a cook in the back; we had it all covered.
KM: What is your favorite type of food to cook when your not at ye ole pub?
WR: Cajun food. I like spice; that is one thing I’ve added more of to the menu since I’ve been here. My favorite dish to cook is gumbo, which will be on the menu starting Friday, Jan. 15 for a week, and then quite possibly again for Mardi Gras.
KM: Let’s talk chalkboard specials. This is a feature my Memphis mainstay has never had; I’m pretty thrilled about this change, and so are my tastebuds. Why did you decide to implement them when you became head chef in July?
WR: The chalkboard specials help to break up the monotony of cooking the same thing over and over again; you get to experiment. Also, no one likes to eat the same thing over and over again either. Variety is the spice of life! [Chuckle]
KM: It’s a daily surprise for regulars and new customers. It’s the little things that count.
WR: Exactly. DJ & Jamie have been kind enough to bring me new cookbooks from the homeland; those are great to look through. It’s like writing, my other passion, “Good cooks borrow; great cooks steal.” [laughter]
KM: …Like any true artist. Tell me about this week’s blackboard special?
WR: The special for January 7 - 14 is a 16 oz. ribeye stuffed with Bushmill’s whiskey-soaked breadcrumbs and topped with a bleu cheese compound butter. It is served with roasted parsnips, mashed potatoes, and butternut squash with a side salad for $24.95.
KM: Holy yum. What flavors are in our near future?
WR: With the cold weather change, I have been creating heavier menu items, but now with the New Year and weight loss resolutions I’ll be doing some lighter options. Soon we’ll have a Magner’s Cider braised chicken. Our pot roast was a huge hit a few weeks back; I could barely keep the crockpot filled… so we may revisit it.
A duck is somewhere down the line. I know we are in Memphis and further away you get from downtown you can’t cook duck, but we’re not that far from downtown.
KM: Now the finale…If you had a chef motto what would it be?