by Dave Kubacki
From dishwasher to Executive Chef at Perrysburg’s Social Gastropub, Jeff Dinnebeil has a passion for food. This passion trickled down from a tradition of male cooking role models in his family including his father and grandfather.
“When we would go on vacation, [my parents] would have me pick out one really nice restaurant that we would eat at” Dinnebeil said. “This exposed me to some cool, really different food early in life.”
Initially starting his career as a dishwasher at 13, Dinnebeil eventually found himself at Biaggi’s, an Italian restaurant chain. After a couple of years at Biaggi’s, Dinnebeil was offered a salaried position to become a chef at the restaurant, but decided to alter his career trajectory.
Dinnebeil said. “I had to decide if I wanted to go down the corporate route and do things the cookie cutter way and essentially be a kitchen manager rather than be a chef. My wife, who also worked at Biaggi’s, and I made a big decision after talking at our cabin in Northern Michigan. We came back and turned in our notices at Biaggi’s that day and moved to Chicago.”
In Chicago, Dinnebeil bounced around at a variety of restaurants, learning from several chefs at fine dining establishments. He’d work with a chef for 9 to 12 months and then they’d make a phone call and recommend him to another chef in the city.
“It’s all about who you work for and getting involved with the right person,” Dinnebeil said. “Once you are involved with the right person, it really defines what you are going to be able to learn.”
After learning that they’d be welcoming their first child into the world, Dinnebeil and his wife decided to move back to Ohio to be closer to family. It was then that Mike Graber, a former Biaggi’s restaurant colleague, reached out to Dinnebeil to see if he’d be interested in a chef position at Social. Graber and Bruce Gradkowski had already been successful with their first venture, Gradkowski’s, and were now working on a concept for their second restaurant, Social.
“We’re fortunate that both [Graber] and myself kind of think in the same way of food and think in the same way of what we want in a restaurant,” Dinnebeil said. “We wanted an eclectic mix. I think there is so many good things out there that people are yet to be exposed to so it broadened our horizons and let us go anywhere we wanted.”
When creating Social, the goal was to have a menu that rotated every two months, according to Dinnebeil, the to keep things fresh for patrons.
“We have so many repeat guests that come in multiple times a week” Dinnebeil said. “I like to be able to provide those people with different takes on food and keep things fresh for them. Being able to change that menu all the time, allows you to adapt to how people are eating and how people are feeling.”
For the past two and a half years, that has been Social’s mantra. While Dinnebeil described the concept initially as daunting, it has become an aspect of the restaurant that he is most proud of. Over the past few years, it’s a process of refining and mastering it.
“The way we start things is to take a dish that people are familiar with and put our twist on it or start with just an ingredient,” Dinnebeil said. “We then use our menu format and decide if that ingredient is going to be best in an appetizer, a sandwich or an entrée, I think about what goes great with that ingredient and I think about what time of year we are going to be in. We work with a couple of local farmers and I might give them a call and ask what they’ll have around for the next 2 months that they’re really proud of and think is special. That will give me the second ingredient of the dish and I’ll kind of compile a dish based on that.”
Cooking with flair, is the way Dinnebeil and Social operates.
Roasted Cauliflower Vegetable Stock (or Water) As needed Cauliflower 1 Head Red Pepper Flake 1 Teaspoon Fresh Herbs 1 oz Black Pepper Corns 1 Teaspoon Bay Leaves 3 Leaves Lemon Peel 2 Lemons
Whipped Goat Cheese Goat Cheese 8 oz Cream Cheese 8 oz Heavy Cream half Cup Salt 1Teaspoon Pepper half Teaspoon Lemon Juice 1 Lemon
Begin by trimming all of the leaves off the bottom of the cauliflower
Place the Whole head of Cauliflower into a large pot and cover
completely with vegetable stock
Add the Red Pepper, Fresh Herbs of your choice (Rosemary, Parsley, and Thyme) Pepper Corns and Bay Leaves
Using a peeler peel all of the skin off of 2 lemons and add
to the pot as well
Turn the heat on to medium and bring the stock to a slow simmer and allow to simmer for 30 minutes
Carefully remove the cauliflower from the stock and place on a wire rack and allow to cool
Pre heat your oven to 450 degrees
Coat the Head of Cauliflower Liberally with Olive Oil and season the cauliflower with salt and fresh ground black pepper
Roaste the Cauliflower in the oven for 20-30 minutes rotating half way through the cooking processes
Once the cauliflower is golden brown all over remove and serve on a bead of the whipped goat cheese
Whipped Goat Cheese
Allow the Goat cheese and the Cream Cheese to come up to room tempature in a Standing mixer or handheld mixer to combine both cheese, salt, pepper and the lemon juice and whip until its very smooth.