Q&A with Rootstock & Vine’s Executive Chef, Todd Webster

Where would Rootstock and Vine be without our Executive Chef Todd Webster? Todd joined the Rootstock and Vine team last January, and if you haven’t ever had the pleasure of meeting him, we wanted to share a little more about Todd and why he’s an integral part of our team.

What Brought you to Rootstock and Vine?

I love a challenge. When I first met Sean and Anna, they explained that they’d had difficulties with finding a chef who’d be up for a challenge. After the first few weeks and months, I created dishes that pushed boundaries and went further than both they and I expected for myself. I’m able to create dishes and get them out quickly, and I like that challenge. It forces me to be more intentional about each and every dish soup to nuts before we create it. That’s the part of working here that I enjoy the most.

I personally prefer to plate every dish. It’s just a part of creating food that I love and am proud of, and presentation is just as important as the dish itself.

What Dishes are You Most Proud Of?

The Octopus is a favorite on the menu. The southwestern farro salad served underneath the octopus is also incredible. I learned how to make octopus from a really great chef, Michael Schwartz, a James Beard award-winning Chef I worked with in Miami before moving to Atlanta. Learning the techniques to create this dish have served me well–and I’m so proud that the dish is so well-received. I get to take the techniques that I learned from better chefs than myself and make them my own. That’s great for me.

While it’s not on the menu anymore (I’m working on a new Spring menu currently), the Lamb Keema is another favorite dish. For me, it’s an act of love, inspired by my wife. Lots of love goes into this dish.

What Kinds of Cuisine do you Enjoy Creating the Most?

I really enjoy creating Fusion dishes. I love to take a classic dish and re-imagine it somewhere else. For one of our recent dinners, I created a chicken and waffles dish, but we mixed it up a bit by making Indian Chicken 65 and Black Cardamom and Turmeric Waffles. So yeah, I really like making little twists on old dishes, and making them my own.

What Separates Your Food and Technique?

I believe that my differentiating factors from other chefs is that I really care about the food. I enjoy cooking, I want raw ingredients, and I want to feed people delicious food that’s made from the heart. For example, when I was working at a restaurant in Miami, I insisted on making my own ketchup. I make as much as I can, because I want to cook and I enjoy the entire process. I didn’t get into this to open cans and boxes.  And from my perspective, the food at Rootstock and Vine needs to pair well with the delicious wine that we serve.

When people eat at Rootstock and Vine, I want them to know that each dish is made for them. I’m in the kitchen a lot–not just pointing and talking and handing out orders, but actually making the dishes.

Chef Todd’s Background

I went to culinary school 11 years ago, but I’ve been in and out of restaurants since I was 13 years old. In Miami, I worked for Michael Schwartz at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, then moved to Front Porch Cafe.

And five years ago, I moved to Atlanta. Before Rootstock and Vine, I worked at a restaurant called Elevation.

What do you Love about Downtown Woodstock?

I love that Woodstock has a small-town feel, but that it also wants to be more. You can feel the vibe, that Woodstock wants to grow and evolve.

Anything Else You’d Like to Add?

We’re about to start making our own bacon. I’m pretty excited about that! As well as I plan to launch a YouTube Channel soon and we are in design phase of my cookbook.

We’re pretty excited about all of that, too! If you haven’t had a chance to come in and sample any of Chef Todd’s expertly crafted dishes, we hope that you’ll come join us for a bite soon!

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