I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat and I try to learn everything I can from the real professionals – I love to sit down with a chef and just chat about his craft.

 This week Chowbelly interviews local private chef, Randy Wilder who was trained at the culinary institute at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC – now there’s a spot ripe with culinary sensations!

 The Triangle\'s Premier Private Chef

Chef Wilder has worked in some of the area’s most prestigious kitchens but currently works as a private chef providing private, personal dining events in The Triangle.


Chef Wilder, what made you decide to become a professional chef?

 As I was growing up I was always on my mother’s hip watching her cook and asking questions. Eventually she let me help. By middle school I was cooking 3-4 dinners a week for my family. I loved watching cooking TV shows like Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, Yan Can Cook, and The Frugal Gourmet. By the time I was 14 or 15 I had pretty much decided that I loved the craft and that I wanted to be a chef.


So where has your career taken you and what are you doing now?

I have been very fortunate to work for some amazing chefs. In Atlanta I worked at Carbo’s Cafe, Blue Ridge Grill, The Abbey, Anthony’s. After moving to Raleigh, I worked for John Toler at Bloomsbury Bistro honing my skills. When he opened The Cosmopolitan in Cary I was offered the position of Chef de Cuisine in charge of daily menu execution and the staff. There I learned that my passion is events with multi-course, wine-paired formats such as the Triangle Wine Experience.  I love the relationship between food and wine. That passion led me to launch my personal chef business that focuses on private, personal, multi-course, wine-paired dinners in private homes.  I provide everything necessary for groups of 6 to 16 – linens, stemware, china, silverware – everything needed to entertain at the highest level without lifting a finger.

Who, in your personal life has influenced your cooking the most?

I have worked with many very talented people over the years. John Toler, chef/owner of Bloomsbury Bistro in Raleigh, has been the greatest influence on me. He has a unique approach and has impeccable standards. I really enjoyed the six years that I worked with him.


Do you have a favorite cookbook?

 I love the French Laundry Cookbook – it’s just beautiful. The Joy of Cooking, however, is my all time favorite. It covers it all!


What are your three most important cooking tools or gadgets?

 I’m a big fan of a good blender for great soups. You have to have a chinois for straining stocks and sauces, and I’d be lost without my Wustof Grand Prix Santuko.


Describe you most memorable meal – where was it, who were you with, why was it memorable?

 A few years back, my wife Tara and I travelled to wine country in California. We had an opportunity to eat at The French Laundry. We ordered a 9-course pre-fixe menu which ended up being about 12 courses! The food was amazing and Anthony Bourdain was taping his show “A Cook’s Tour” there. We got the chance to go into the kitchen and watch for a few minutes. Truly inspiring!


Do you have any advice for someone who wants to take it up a level at home and recreate some of the amazing dishes we have in favorite restaurants or see on television?

Try to learn as much as you can about the dish you are preparing. If you want to make something you had at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to call the chef, ask questions. Then try it. And if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, try again! Practice makes perfect.


What would you pursue if you knew you couldn’t fail and money was no object?

If money wasn’t an object I’d love to open a soup-kitchen for the less fortunate where I could offer well-prepared meals with excellent ingredients to warm people’s soul.


After speaking with Chef Wilder I really want to run out and take a look at The French Laundry cookbook!  I am really glad I got a chance to talk to Randy – if you have any questions or comments for him let him know by posting a Comment.

Watch for more exciting interviews with Chef’s from your favorite restaurants and beyond!