Fifth Street Brewpub’s Chef Liam Hennessy’s first experience in the restaurant business was working at a Mom and Pop sandwich shop. He started off as a dishwasher but soon moved to busing tables, serving, and eventually helping in the kitchen. Fifth Street Brewpub General Manager Dave Tickel first met Liam while working at TomKatz’s in Springboro. They both moved into other positions, but after 5 years of losing touch, Dave called Liam and offered him the position of head chef. Liam left his job at the Dayton Country Club and is now working hard to create a unique menu at this new co-op brewpub. The chef also has worked at L’Auberge and Thirsty Dog Brewpub.
Experience Chef Liam’s menu at Fifth Street Brewpub located at 1600 East Fifth St, about 4 blocks east of the Oregon District. The pub is open Monday – Thursday 4 pm – 11 pm and Fridays & Saturdays from 11 am – midnight.
1. What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Quite simply, animals. I love working with beef.
2. What ingredient do you dread?
Nothing really, I’m not scared of anything. If I don’t know how to use an ingredient, I’ll look it up.
3. What’s your favorite dish to make?
Anything that makes people smile. Coming from the Dayton Country Club, I’ve had to adapt to a different style at the Fifth Street Brewpub. A lot of menu items here are broken-down fine dining, the Cuban sandwich for example. It’s not on the menu, but we feature it from time to time. There is actually an email list that goes out to certain die-hard fans of that sandwich telling them when it will be served next.
4. What’s your favorite pig out food?
I grew up with peanut butter crackers, the ones that come in the pack of 6. Those with a glass of milk at the end of the day are great.
5. What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
My wife and I just had kids, so it is hard to find time to go out. But when we do, we like to eat local. Bonefish is one of our favorites.
6. What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Stop watching the food network; it glorifies food and creates very high expectations. Just keep it simple, try not to combine too many flavors.
7. If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
I would invite my grandparents and great-grandparents. They never had the chance to see this side of me.
8. Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Chris from TomKatz’s; we have remained great friends over the years. And the Sycamore Creek Country Club. That’s where my skills and ideas were refined.
9. What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
Watch my kids! Or sometimes go golfing if I get the chance.
10. Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story.
Lucky Break: Working at the country club was my biggest break. I was a sous-chef at the time, and the GM recognized that I was doing most of the work. He saw my ability and potential, and offered me the position of head chef.
Disaster: This also happened while I was working at the country club. We were hosting a wedding for 150 people, but there was a storm the night before and all of the power went out. So we didn’t have any light, gas, electricity, so obviously we had a huge problem. We contacted the bride and explained the situation, and she wanted to continue with the wedding as planned. We had to adapt by using outside grills to make a meal for 150 guests. It turned out to be a success; the guests were understanding and loved the improvised menu.
This Chef 10?’s article was put together by UD students in Professor Rebecca P. Blust’s UD Engineering Project Management class. Our four member team , Gracelyn Key, Sushmitha Rayinadi, Emily Strobach and Daniel Williams spent the semester learning how to meet with a client (DMM) define the project, put a plan together and execute it. This is the fourth of 9 Chef interviews they presented to us as their class project. To read the first two interviews please see below: