Side Dish: Forest chef Nick Janutol wins big this year

Forest 735 Forest Ave., Birmingham 248-258-9400 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday

Earlier this year, the James Beard Foundation named Janutol a semifinalist for best chef in the Great Lakes region. The Culinary Institute of America grad also received a nod from the venerable Zagat's, which pointed to Forest and others for making the Detroit area one of the hottest restaurant cities in the country.

We can't argue with the acclaim. When we reviewed the restaurant this past spring, we were impressed by Janutol's modern fare, which pays a subtle homage to Forest proprietor Samy Eid's Middle Eastern roots.

Though those accolades are cause enough for celebration, Janutol would rather avoid the spotlight and stay closer to home. When he's not working away in Forest's gorgeous fishbowl-style kitchen, he prefers spending time with his loved ones, as he explains here.

Metro Times: What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did?

Janutol: How to pronounce my last name: Jan-ah-tall.

MT: What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?

Janutol: My mornings with my family. They help ground me and keep me sane.

MT: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Janutol: Telekinesis for sure. Xavier is the man.

MT: What is the most positive thing in food or drink that you've noticed in Detroit over the past year?

Janutol: Standby, Grey Ghost, Mabel, Katoi to name a few. All of them are unique and crushing it.

MT: Who is your Detroit food crush?

Janutol: Samy and Sameer Eid. They are the nicest, most hardworking people in the business, always ready with a great story.

MT: Who's the one person to watch right now in the Detroit dining scene?

Janutol: My sous chef Neal Murikami. He is super talented and strong. He is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

MT: Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?

Janutol: Limes.

MT: If you weren't working in the restaurant business, what would you be doing?

Janutol: I'm Italian, so I guess construction?!

MT: Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen.

Janutol: Micro-greens. Why? Because.

MT: What is your after-work hangout?

Janutol: Kinda of sad, but my couch with a beer and a cookbook. Every once in a while Red Coat Tavern and Standby.

MT: What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure?

Janutol: Ramen. Dry ramen seasoned with sesame seeds chilis and salt.

MT: What would be your last meal on Earth?

Janutol: Sunday dinner at my parents. We would eat roast beef and apple pie.

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