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Chef Erick Wood cooks specialty bagels and pizzas at Chattanooga’s Honey Seed

“Cooking is something that makes me happy,” says Erick Wood, executive chef of one of Chattanooga’s new all-day breakfast hotspots, Honey Seed. “I love to cook for others.”

It’s something he has a lot of experience with. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina, Wood has worked as a sous chef, chef, and executive chef at restaurants across the Southeast, including Chattanooga’s Cibo!, Hill City Pizza, Northshore Grille, the Lookout Mountain Club, Ruth’s Chris and Big River Grille. He also ventured out alone with Talus, a Lookout Mountain favorite for several years.

Now he’s back making pizza and adding Montreal-style bagels to his culinary repertoire at Honey Seed. Here, he talks about what makes Montreal bagels different from others, as well as what exactly makes him happy in the kitchen.

Q: Who do you consider your mentor?

A: My late grandfather, Colonel Adrian Kline. He instilled in me values ​​of tradition, integrity and faith.

Q: You say cooking makes you happy. How?

A: I like to invite people over and cook something they like. Being a chef is a very pleasant job where you can learn new things every day. Whatever I serve contains my love, my hard work, my creativity and my passion for my profession. Cooking is an art.

Q: What makes Montreal bagels different from other types of bagels?

A: Montreal bagels are still hand rolled, boiled in honey water, baked in a wood oven and cooked on both sides. This gives the bagels a slight sweetness, a crispy exterior, and a bagel that has two top sides.

The seeds – poppy, sesame, hemp, chia, nuggets and flax – on both sides are toasted, giving it great flavor. They are delicious and unique to the brand. And we also offer it in jars.

Staff Photo by Olivia Ross/Honey Seed specializes in Montreal-style bagels, which are hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and baked in a wood-fired oven on both sides. The process gives the bagels a slight sweetness, a crispy exterior, and two “top” sides.

Q: So how are bagels served?

A: We bake bagels in small batches throughout the day and right in front of our guests.

Q: What do you think Honey Seed brings to the downtown Chattanooga restaurant scene?

A: We are very unique in what we do. In addition to Montreal-style bagels, we offer brunch every day, until 9 p.m., and have a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian items.

Q: Was there a learning curve you went through when you first created them?

A: Absolutely. I had a learning curve both in learning exactly the right way to roll them and also in baking them. You’d think after rolling a few hundred you’d get it, but it took longer.

Q: Did you have to go to Canada to learn the technique?

A: I trained in Montreal over the summer and I needed it all.

Q: Describe the menu at Honey Seed.

A: The two mainstays of the menu are bagels and pizza. Our pizza dough is made with 00 flour (Italian specialty flour) and we use San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce. All of our ingredients are of the highest quality which has made it difficult to source these items.

We also have paninis and salads for lunch, bagel sandwiches for breakfast and then a full brunch menu with omelettes, Benedicts, chicken and waffles and French toast.

Q: So far, what would you say is your favorite thing to do on the menu?

A: A lot of thought goes into our omelettes. We make an omelette batter, then depending on the order – what the customers want in their omelette – we mix it before it goes into the pan, cook the batter briefly in the pan, then put it in the salamander (a dedicated grill) so that it swells. Then we add the cheese and return to the salamander for further fluffing.

Q: What’s your favorite bagel and topping?

A: Our honey jalapeno is my favorite cream cheese, and the smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumber, onions, capers on a toasted sesame bagel is outstanding.

Q: What is your Achilles’ heel ingredient or dish?

A: Our cinnamon buns — 22 different recipes later. We jokingly said we should call it “The 10pm Cinnamon Roll”.

Q: What food is your guilty pleasure?

A: Cake.

Q: What was your most memorable meal?

A: Dinner at the Garden Room of the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta. I was with my fiancée, Jennifer Sherrill, and this is one of the best restaurants we have ever been to.

We had the lobster omelet – poached lobster, tarragon and lobster Hollandaise; smoked salmon avocado toast; and steak with 1,000 layer potatoes, grilled filet mignon, poached eggs and Dijon Hollandaise sauce.

Q: Is there a cookbook or website that you draw inspiration from?

A: Culinary Arts Magazine.

Q: Which gastronomic city do you like to visit the most?

A: My stay in Montreal this summer was amazing. It is a very diverse and exciting culinary city.

Q: Would you like to share any of the Honey Seed recipes?

A: Chickpea chorizo ​​is one of our vegan dishes that we use on salads, omelettes and as a topping for pizza.

Chickpea chorizo

4 teaspoons rapeseed oil

4 cups canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

4 teaspoons of paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pour the oil into a sauté pan and place it over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and cook for 3 minutes or until just a hint of color.

In a bowl, add the spices and stir to combine. Toss the beans in the spice mix and cook in the pan for an additional 1 minute.

Remove from heat and let cool.

Once cooled, place the beans in a food processor. Pulse for 3 seconds, 3 to 4 times, to obtain a “minced” appearance.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO

— Where: Honey Seed, 1705 Market St.

— Hours: 7am-9pm daily (breakfast and brunch all day, lunch after 10am, pizza after 4pm)

— Specialties: Montreal hand-rolled bagels, wood-fired thin-crust pizza

— Price range: $10-$11 specialty sandwiches and salads, $20-$22 pizzas

— Alcohol: Full bar and local beers on tap

— Phone: 423-521-7333

— Online: honeyseedchatt.com

Contact Anne Braly at [email protected] or annebraly.com.