Correspondent Richard Basch sat down with Stephen Perkins, chef at the new Waypoint Seafood and Grill in Williamsburg, Va.
The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking? Who influenced you at first?
Chef Stephen Perkins: At first it was, of course, mom. As I reflect further, it was also two aunts that had an equal affect: Aunt Agnes and Aunt Kate. Aunt Agnes had the magicians’ touch for pie crust, no matter the pie our favorite part was the anticipated buttery perfection that was her crust that we relished in every bite. So far as Aunt Kate, it was breakfast; as a dairy farmer’s wife and mother of five, the morning meal was a true daily feast. After milking and chores were done at 7 a.m. (we would get up at 3:30 to start the day) the breakfast table was spread with platters of fresh steaming corn on the cob, (just picked of course) French toast, pancakes, hamburger patties, and fresh eggs fried in whole butter, in addition to hot toast, fresh brewed coffee, and at least two of her famous homemade preserves or jams. And of course milk that was less than an hour old.
These first memories would be just that, memories. For cooking to become a career, one must pursue education and then work in the best establishments they can find on order to cultivate what is (in my view) a calling. This takes people who are willing to pour knowledge, invest time and have the determination to stand by and encourage you along the way. To say my wife of 29 years does this as a matter of fact and is the anchor that keeps the home fires burning would be an understatement. Without a successful and balanced personal life the whole of this is for nothing. The real story here is that through all of this we are accepting and giving gifts of talent, time, and opportunity to each other, without this we fall.
How important to you are your suppliers?
Extremely. Without suppliers there is no food for the menu; the suppliers we have share the same passion for freshness and integrity of the food, they understand what it takes to cultivate the perfect oyster, bake the freshest bread, to harvest the greens or fruit, and just the right moments. Just as a cook knows the perfect timing of when to turn the salmon or the exact feel and smell of the roast that is at the point of perfection; so to our suppliers are cast of the same mold.
What are your plans for the future?
Another great question; truly I still maintain the vision for a future business venture. Who knows; maybe pizza, maybe a restaurant. A key concept in any future idea is to continuously be a part of the community as a positive influence, as well as investing in the next generation of culinarians and service professionals that come through the kitchen.