Chef Candace Rinke found herself drawn to the kitchen at a young age. Her first award was at twelve when she won a blue ribbon for a decorated cake at the county fair. Fostered by her grandmother’s love of entertaining the family and inspired by travels through Europe, her food reflects both warmth and elegance.
While at the University of Michigan in the School of Engineering, Candace discovered she loved cooking more than she enjoyed physics and math. This realization led her down an entirely different path. She has since graduated from Oakland College with a degree in Culinary Arts along with certificates in Food Handling Safety and Nutrition.
Candace has been cooking both personally and professionally for almost 20 years. The Busy Gourmet was a natural outcome of Candace’s lifelong love of preparing food and entertaining. She relocated to Ohio about 5 years ago and has been busy feeding people in the Dayton area ever since. In 2006 she launched The Busy Gourmet, a small personal chef service, specializing in small parties and meal service. While growing this business, Candace was continually looking for a restaurant location, knowing she truly wanted to be a restaurateur. This past spring the short lived Soprano’s location became available and within a month of signing the lease, Chef had painted, set a menu, hired her staff and opened for business. Having survived her first Restaurant Week to rave reviews we think Rinke’s The Hawthorn Grill is fast establishing itself as a dining destination in Dayton.
Enjoy 10 Questions with Chef Candace Rinke:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Butter, cream and salt – my family always teases me about this but come on…who doesn’t love a good Alfredo or creme brulee…can’t do those dishes without these wonderfully sinful ingredients!!!
What ingredient do you dread?
I can’t really think of anything I dread…I love to work with all kinds of fresh ingredients…the only thing that really comes to mind is soft-shell crab…I just can’t handle cutting off their little heads while they are still alive…!
What’s your favorite dish to make?
I don’t think I have a favorite – I just love food! And part of the excitement of what I do is coming up with new, tasty dishes all the time.
What’s your favorite pig out food?
Chinese! And Thai! I love the complexity of Asian flavors – they’re so well balanced between sweet, spicy, salty and tangy…it takes a special skill to combine all those ingredients without one overpowering another.
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
China Cottage in Springboro and Bahn Mai Thai in Centerville – see pig out comment above!
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
What grows together goes together. Things that are in season at the same time tend to have a natural affinity for each other – like basil and tomatoes or cherries and apricots. The Italians and French know this better than most of us – if things grow in the ground together and ripen at the same time, it’s likely that they’ll compliment each other on the plate. Take chances and you’ll probably be delightfully surprised by the outcome!
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
I think given the choice, I’d like more than four people – my ideal dinner party is a big group of family and friends sitting or standing around the bar in our kitchen eating and drinking until we can’t eat and drink any more! I’m Polish so I learned early on about hospitality and the concept of “the more the merrier” – and my grandma taught me well how to cook for a crowd so bring it on!
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Takashi Yagihashi – I worked with him in Michigan where he won a James Beard Award. He’s since opened restaurants in Las Vegas and Chicago. Watching him in action was a real learning experience for me – in my earlier jobs, I saw chefs that screamed, yelled and threw sharp objects. In Takashi’s kitchen, everything was calm and calculated and executed with the precision of an operating room. He lead by example and his integrity was above reproach. I hope I’m able to lead my staff in the same way.
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
Since we opened I haven’t had a day off (yikes!!!) but when I do get time away from the restaurant I like to spend it with my husband, Kurt, and my kids, Nick, Hayley and Noah – we like to go to Caesar’s Creek and bikeride by the river.
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
My lucky break has been finding this space and getting it open in just a few short weeks. I have been in Dayton for almost 5 years and in that time I worked very hard to develop a catering business out of my house. After having my son, I was desperate to get out of my own kitchen and into a restaurant to which my husband’s standard answer was “Write the business plan first!” I finally took a class at the Small Business Development Center in Dayton and after the eight week class and countless days and nights of studying, thinking, planning, researching and writing, I printed out a 37 page business plan outlining my lifelong dream of restaurant ownership. Over the next year I searched for the perfect location (and waited for the stars to align themselves) and in the beginning of May, the opportunity presented itself at this location. I signed the paperwork on May 18th and we hit the ground running. It’s been great, and terrifying, and stressful, and wonderful and the culmination of a lifelong dream. We’ve been very lucky so far and now we just want to keep going on the roll we’re on, serving people really good food with smiling faces in a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere. If you leave thinking about the next meal you’ll have with us, we’ve done our job.
Visit The Hawthorn Grill at 1222 E. Stroop Road in Kettering
Tues – Thurs 4:30-9pm
Fri & Sat 4:30-10pm
Sun Brunch 9am – 2pm
Call 298-2222 for reservations!
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