Chef Tony brings homestyle cooking to Headhunters
Chef Tony of Headhunters didn’t hesitate when asked what’s changed since Cornerstone restaurant moved out at the end of October.
"Everything is made in house," he said. "Everything is homemade. Nothing is from a mix."
That includes the hamburger buns, gravy, hollandaise sauce, pastries, desserts, you name it. Chef Tony, formally known as Tony Crane, makes nearly everything from scratch – and with love – a source of pride for the man now running the food show at the Midtown eatery/bar.
"I want people to thank me, not Betty Crocker or whoever the supplier is," he said.
The restaurant at Headhunters is back after a two-and-a-half year hiatus during which Cornerstone restaurant rented out the space. Cornerstone has since moved back to K Street in the old River Rock Tap House space, just feet away from its original location.
For Chef Tony, this has offered an opportunity to grow a loyal customer base and share his love of cooking with the community. "I try to breathe love into every dish I make," he said. "Once I teach my cooks to do that, I’ll be ready to go."
That love can certainly be tasted, as Chef Tony brings his lineage of restauranteurs and homemade treats to the table. He doesn’t just make any homemade biscuits, pastries and cinnamon rolls. He makes his grandmother’s homemade biscuits, pastries and cinnamon rolls (with her recipes).
"It’s real," piped up a waitress as Chef Tony showed me the burger bun dough, pastries and professional pastry oven in the back.
Not only real, but not frozen. The meats are delivered fresh daily, and Headhunters has even changed its coffee brewing methods (they brew Coffee Works coffee, by the way). With so many changes, people must be noticing, right?
When I asked Chef Tony about the response from customers, he immediately directed me to check out the Yelp page, noting that the stars have gone from two stars (when Cornerstone was there) to three-and-a-half (out of five) since he’s taken over operations.
And customers can attest to the improvements. Justin Powell and friend Nikk Johnson said the food is amazing and is served in large portions.
"It’s like eating at home, you can tell a lot of love and care went into it," Johnson said.
For Chef Tony, after five weeks on the job (the switch happened Halloween morning), starting his days at 4:30 a.m. and making it through some very tough initial shifts – the first Sunday brunch was chaotic – the newness is starting to wear off.
During the interview he sat a three top and cooked their breakfasts in under 10 minutes. “Gotta be fresh, gotta be quick,” he said after finishing the last plate. Though he admitted, “It takes a while to feel at home,” likening the transition to moving into a new house.