This is an extended version of the interview flight series with Plae Bistro Executive Chef Michael Catania.
It's part of the big run-up to Greater Green Bay Restaurant Week.
1) Describe Plae Bistro’s style and what a customer can expect when going there?
There’s a little bit of everything for the customer. You can come in and have anything from a burger to a $35 entrée or fresh fish that we get from Hawaii. It’s widespread…the pasta’s are great. With our steaks, we have a Certified Angus Beef Program.
A lot of times you go out to eat, you get stuck eating the same thing. When it comes to our burgers, we try to hit all different aspects. On our new menu, we’ll be doing a Vegan burger. I didn’t think of it before, but now we get asked a lot if we have Vegan items.
I try to give everybody an option. You can have the same things on the menu, but substitute for the Gluten-free pasta or bun for our burgers.
2) What's your favorite meal to prepare?
Wild game and exotic fish are two things that I have a liking towards. I was fortunate to grow up with a family that cooked, and went out to eat at a lot of places. It expanded my palette.
I may go out on a limb and maybe order something like kangaroo, and run that as a feature. I can try that and for my own knowledge learn how to cook it.
For example, I ran rabbit the week of Easter. Call me crazy, but everyone loved it and we ran out of it.
(P.S., the follow up was about any jokes he heard with rabbit on an Easter Week menu)
“Someone said something like, 'Well we know if the Easter Bunny doesn’t show up, we have our top suspect.'"
3) Where do you like to eat, or whose food do you enjoy?
I get made fun of a lot for this, but I like to go to McDonald’s. After a long day of cooking for 12 hours, on my way home if I’m hungry; the last thing I want to do is cook at home.
4) In your mind, what's one ingredient that's under-utilized that people can find at their local store, farmer's market, etc?
There are a lot of cool things I like to do with presentation and the farmer’s market is known for having good micro greens. Twin L Farms are right out west in Seymour.
That’s something that would be is the different variety of fresh greens available at farmer's markets.
The availability of good beef is something that people don’t realize. You can buy whole tenderloin and trim it yourself, rather than paying so much money. So if people could learn to do a couple things extra, it would be beneficial.
5) Are you excited to take part in Green Bay Restaurant Week?
Definitely. It’s going to be exciting, but it’s definitely going to be busy. It’s a good thing to be busy, but the way I work, I like to be prepared for it.
I’m definitely looking forward to it with the expansion of the restaurant and the re-opening happening before it. I think something like restaurant week is great for everyone in the area. I’m going to put my skills out there to try and impress everyone.
6) How do you decide on what to put on the tasting menus?
I was able to look at what everyone else is doing, and do items that others weren’t. One thing is my prawns, fresh Hawaiian Blue Prawns. This will be perfect…they’re U-12 shrimp and I have 25 pounds. For an event like this, I know it’s a great tasting dish, sell it at a good price point, but also look at it as more of an investment, than a money-maker.
There some of our staples, and there are some things that we can show people we can be different.
Plae Bistro is preparing for their big re-launch on Wednesday May 29th at 1671 Hoffman Road, Suite 10, in Bellevue. They have a soft opening for family, friends and invited guests the night before.
What can we expect from the "extreme makeover" of the restaurant?
"The menu is going to be a little different. We’re going to try some new things. It’s going to be in the same location, we’re just switching things around that are going to be more conducive to the customer. Right now, our bar you have to walk through the dining area to get to it. Now, you can just walk straight to the bar without interrupting our flow.”
“I’m excited about the chef’s table, I’m going to showcase my skills, but also make it a learning experience for people. Still going to have that contemporary vibe, but we’re changing some color schemes. People are going to be wowed.”