We are on a conference call with Phillip Foss at the Ball Cave — the code name given to the complex where he cooks the food for the Meatyballs food truck empire by day, and his brand new fine dining concept, EL, by night. Also in the room is Andrew Brochu, the former Kith and Kin chef, whom he is partnering with for this experimental new venture. Experimental may be the wrong word — Foss prefers to call it a “Micro Restaurant” — but it’s hard to think of another way to describe a restaurant with eight seats and two head chefs, located in what is essentially an industrial park on southwest side of the city. Chefs collaborate all the time, but we wondered how a kitchen runs with two top talents, especially ones with such different styles. Foss’s last job had him cooking in the luxe lobby of the Palmer House at Lockwood, while Brochu just came from the cozy neighborhood restaurant, Kith & Kin. We decided to talk through every course to see how the pieces of this intricate puzzle all fit together.
Phillip Foss is not afraid to drop a ball joke into a random conversation, no matter if you’re talking about his successful Meatyballs venture or the delicate dessert course at EL. Regardless, each joke is almost invariably followed by a detailed discussion of the intricate preparations involved in, say, perfectly deboning a chicken wing, or freezing lobster roe to grate with a microplane. Andrew Brochu is less likely to do so, but still okay with admitting that many of his dishes for the restaurant came in the after hours, when he was goofing around with other chefs from Kith & Kin.
Together they are hoping for a mixture of improvisation and inspiration. Many of these dishes came from ideas that the two had been kicking around for awhile, but never had the right opportunity to realize before now. Other courses came up on the spot, as the two focused on an ingredient and tried to find the best way to showcase it.
Below is the making of the restaurant’s second menu.