Justin Zehr, 27, Cedar Rapids
Head chef @ Zeppelins
How long have you been at Zeppelins?
I’ve been here for a couple years now, through it being Becketts to what you see today. I attended Kirkwood (Community College’s) culinary school then moved to Denver for a couple years.
A few months after Beckett’s closed Zeppelins emerged. What’s different and how are people reacting?
A lot has changed. In fact the only thing that’s really stayed the same is some of the staff and a few items from the menu. We tore down walls and opened the place up with a new atmosphere. People have been really impressed. The atmosphere is very friendly and approachable and people appreciate that.
How would you describe your culinary style?
It really depends on the dish. I can go as common or as fancy as I need to go.
What’s been one of your most challenging dishes?
Any dish that’s considered challenging is more an issue of finding the right product and less about the challenge of execution. One of the toughest for me has been fish and chips. I can’t tell you how many cod I went through to find just the right one.
But you got it?
I did. And people have said it’s the best fish and chips dish they’ve ever had.
What’s something every kitchen should have in stock?
This is a running joke in our kitchen: honey and Tabasco sauce. Two things that can either sweeten up a dish or give it that extra kick if need be.
But never together in the same dish, right?
Who is one of your culinary heroes?
I’d have to say the kitchen staff at Zeppelins. They represent the best cooks of my past and have all been brought under one kitchen. They’re incredibly talented and great to work with.