We sat down with Jake Wolf of Capital Club 16 in Raleigh to learn about his history and what inspires his cuisine.
Give us a short history of how you became a chef:
I grew up with my grandmother in the kitchen. Several of my family recipes from brunch are on the menu—grandma’s and dad’s recipes. My dad grew up in Texas and they had a Tex Mex restaurant. I worked in a restaurant in high school and later, in 1995, went to the Culinary Institute of America. I like the pace of working in the kitchen. I like being on my feet, working with my hands—but mainly I just love to eat!
In 1998, I went to Germany as an apprentice and worked in a hotel. When I came back to the States, I ended up in New York City at Zum Schneider. I was there for five years and it’s where I learned the majority of my German cooking.
What is your philosophy & inspiration for your cuisine?
It is a mish-mash of my travels and an earthy, local, high quality focus. It’s the culmination of cooking with the seasons and how it feels outside. The roots are in American food and family recipes but with the influence of Europe. My wife is vegetarian and she introduces me to a lot of creativity using vegetables. The vegetables are a major part of our menu, not just a side dish. All of our food is made from scratch.
Why do you use Firsthand Foods?
Initially, the #1 reason is supporting local agriculture that has a high quality product. We use as much local as possible. Firsthand Foods also offers a great variety of cuts. I started with the ground beef because I was looking for local quality beef for our hamburgers. Firsthand Foods is willing to work with me on customizing special cuts—which is especially important for our restaurant given its German/European influence.