Hot Chef: Laura Viegas is opening Cook and Shaker

Restaurant vet Laura Viegas is bringing her culinary expertise to Cook and Shaker.
Restaurant vet Laura Viegas is bringing her culinary expertise to Cook and Shaker.

Cook and Shaker is one of the soon-to-be-open restaurants that’s high on our list of places to try. The new joint, which is in the Fishtown/Kensington neighborhood, will serve bangers and mash, watermelon salad and those buffalo fried Brussels sprouts we keep hearing about. We had a chance to catch up with chef and owner Laura Viegas, who has a long restaurant history.

Do you have an opening date set for Cook and Shaker?
We’re still shooting for the end of October. We’re really close to having a date picked out.

This is the first restaurant you’ve opened, right? How’s it going?
Yes. It’s going good. It’s a process! I’m learning a lot of things, like dealing with the city and the kitchen and just
everybody.

There’s been a lot of press about C&S. Does that add pressure?
Actually, I’m glad there’s a lot of press, and it doesn’t make me feel more pressured. I lived in Fishtown for 10 years and never heard of Albert Street, so we need the press.

A lot of the articles about C&S refer to you as an “industry vet.” How do you feel about that term?
I’ve worked in restaurants for 15 years, so I don’t mind being called that. I’ve worked all facets — front of house, back of house, bakery. I like baking, it’s where I’ve been drawn to over the last few years.

Are you bringing a lot of that experience from, say, White Dog or Bistro 7, to the new place?
Well, I worked at White Dog Cafe over 10 years ago. But what I loved about that place is that it was in the forefront in Philly as far as doing local and seasonal food. We used to get deliveries from Mennonites. I loved that we were using local farmers.

Are the seasonal menus a fun challenge?
Yeah, I think they’re fun. I like having a changing menu, and it lets you get creative.

How do you see the restaurant fitting into the Fishtown neighborhood?
Hopefully good. I think there was a need for another beer and shot kind of place. Memphis Tap Room is the only one past York that serves food, so I think people are pretty excited about it. We’re going to do elevated comfort food, too, but we’re not going to focus on just craft beer. We’ll have Miller Lite, too, because we want to make everyone feel welcome.

Do you have a favorite ingredient to work with?
I really like using chipotles and adobos. I love that smoky flavor.


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