A taste of Europe in the Queen City: 5 Q’s with Crepe Cellar’s Executive Chef Steve Kuney

NoDa, Charlotte’s historic arts district, offers a competitive selection of good eats, deeming it the perfect location for the Euro-inspired gastropub Crepe Cellar. This cozy eatery offers a generous taste of Europe, with dishes that range from traditional fish and chips, steak and Guinness pie, and, of course, their signature crepes. Executive Chef Steve Kuney is the culinary craftsman behind the creations offered at Crepe Cellar, delivering a thin piece of Europe, deliciously folded into the Queen City culture. Kuney shares the inspiration and essentials behind his dishes.

What’s your favorite thing about operating out of the NoDa area?
The eclectic nature of the neighborhood. It draws a diverse crowd and is definitely a ‘come as you are’ neighborhood.  It’s great to look out at the dining room and see a family of four, a couple in evening wear and some guys who just got a tattoo at one of the studios.  It’s a great vibe.

What drives the European influence at Crepe Cellar?
The focus on crepes at the restaurant thrusts us into the European mode. The primary focus comes from Jeff and Jamie’s travels throughout Europe and thus the inspiration behind the restaurant. My background at New England Culinary in Vermont and my Scots/Irish heritage also come into play on the menu. Growing up in Vermont, there was a close proximity to Montreal, which definitely has a European feel to it with the French Canadian influence. To me, the French mastered the art of comfort food and it’s something we try to emulate here.

What’s the most crucial component of a good meal?
Balance and simplicity. They kind of go hand in hand.  Two many cooks try to over complicate their dishes and then it throws off the balance of the dish. If you concentrate on a few components that complement each other, they can shine unmuddled and the dish will work.

What’s the most essential item in your kitchen?
Two things: Fry punch and Immersion Blender. If one of these goes down, it’s no fun.

What’s your last meal, from Crepe Cellar’s own menu? 
Oyster NODA and the Fish and Chips. My wife, Amy, usually gets the fish special that Russell or Andy construct and my kids go straight for the mac and cheese. Plates are usually passed around the table.