Charlotte's 25 Best Restaurants—2013

From French fare to Southern comfort, inventive to classic, these are Charlotte's best restaurants


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Chef of the Year:

Joe Kindred, Rooster's Wood-Fired Kitchen

 

Chef Joe Kindred got hooked on a career in the food-and-beverage industry when he was 14 and washing dishes at a Lake Norman café. Less than a year later he was promoted to kitchen manager—and it’s been up from there ever since.

After winning a scholarship to attend Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, he became the first intern of renowned Charlotte chef Jim Noble. It was a good pairing; Kindred has spent more than a decade working for Noble. He left just twice, to gain experience working at Tru restaurant in Chicago and Delfina Pizzeria in San Francisco, both of which won James Beard awards while he was in the kitchen. Now, Kindred has returned to Charlotte to serve as executive chef at Rooster’s uptown, which he helped open in February 2012.

“Working in San Francisco, I really learned what farm to table meant,” he says. “I would collect mushrooms by hand and we always tried to use the meat of an entire animal.” At Rooster’s, Kindred does the butchering himself and challenges his team to use each animal from snout to tail. “It’s about respect for the animal and changing the menu often to reflect what’s fresh and available,” he says. “One night we may use the chops, another the tenderloins. We’ll use scraps to make homemade salami.”

At Rooster’s, Kindred has also cemented a reputation for house-made pasta. He brought his own recipes to Rooster’s, and he has added more Italian-inspired dishes to the menu. “On a given night we probably have four fresh pastas on the menu,” he says.

Kindred talks about food with passion and precision. The clientele of the uptown Rooster’s tends to be slightly more adventurous than those who eat at the SouthPark location, and

Kindred enjoys having the ability to add inventive chalkboard specials like Vietnamese banh mi and North African dishes to the restaurant’s signature European-influenced Southern fare. — Hannah Taylor

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