Emmele Herrold, chef and co-owner of Birmingham restaurant Hazel, Ravines and Downtown, has built her culinary career on taking the nontraditional route.
By Dorothy Hernandez
Photography by Viviana Pernot
At age 24, Emmele Herrold was living in a small mountain town in Colorado and working as a bartender and server in a restaurant when her boss told her he wanted to sell the business to her.
Other than her passion for cooking that stems from when she would bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies as well as helping her mother with hors d’oeuvres for parties as a kid (she would make baked brie), she didn’t have much experience cooking professionally, much less owning a business.
But that didn’t stop her. She got a couple partners together, and they opened First Street Pub & Grill. She created the menu and figured out a lot of things on the fly, such as how to make French onion soup.
And that’s how Herrold, 38, has done many things in her culinary career: taking the unorthodox route and fully embracing any challenge thrown her way.
Eventually Herrold, who grew up in Pleasant Ridge, sold the restaurant to her partners and came back to Michigan. She started catering out of her apartment and began to build confidence in her cooking.
“My career is pretty unusual because it’s not common the way I came up in the business,” she says. The self-taught chef didn’t take the traditional culinary paths of going to culinary school or starting as a dishwasher and moving up the ranks.
In 2012, she embarked on another opportunity, this time landing the role of executive chef at One-Eyed Betty’s, a craft beer bar in Ferndale. It was there where she joined forces for the first time with Beth Hussey, who was managing partner.
Herrold admits she was nervous to head her own first real kitchen, but One-Eyed Betty’s was wildly successful quickly, becoming a hot spot not only for its extensive beer and whiskey selection but also for its beer-friendly food with dishes such as fried oyster po’boys, the playfully named Bacon with a Side of Bacon and the burger, which Herrold became known for. In 2013, she won the Detroit Burger Brawl, dethroning the champ from Townhouse and beating out other burger bigwigs to claim the crown.
Herrold and Hussey, 49, of Bloomfield Hills went on to open Pop’s for Italian, another popular Ferndale restaurant. Herrold then struck out on her own with Black Eagle, a pop-up restaurant at Ferndale lounge The Bosco. She also appeared on the Cooking Channel’s “Cheap Eats” and the Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.”
This past October, Herrold and Hussey teamed up for a third time to open Hazel, Ravines and Downtown, but this time they’re co-owners doing their own thing without investors.
“We call ourselves food soulmates,” Herrold says of her business partner because they are on the same page in terms of tastes. Hussey comes up with the quirky names, for example Really Gouda Cheese, and Herrold transforms that idea into a dish.
They named the restaurant based on the neighborhoods that all converge at the restaurant’s location at Maple Road and Woodward Avenue, which was previously home to The Stand and Zazio’s restaurants. They gutted the building and renovated it to bring their vision to life.
Under the “Hazel” part of the menu, diners can find familiar dishes, such as Caesar salad, pot roast and green bean casserole. Ravines is the well-traveled section, or as Herrold puts it, her answer to the age-old question that chefs often get: What’s your favorite thing to cook? This section of the menu features dishes with global flavors such as the Argentine Asado for Two and Oaxacan Shrimp. Trending dishes such as cauliflower “steak” with cashew cheese and soy “chorizo” and French Taco from Morocco can be found Downtown.
And yes, Hazel, Ravines and Downtown has a burger. With cheese, onion and dill pickle aioli, this one is Herrold’s “masterpiece.”
Crabcakes and Fried Oysters
1 pound crab
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
¼ cup chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together except oil. Form 4-ounce crabcakes into discs.
Cook in heated olive oil in a sauté pan until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side.
2 cups peanuts
1 cup sesame seeds
12 cloves garlic
1 cup guajillo pepper paste
2 cups olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
Toast peanuts, sesame and garlic on low in the olive oil, until garlic is soft.
Add the pepper paste, sugar and vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes.
Pulse in a food processor until combined.
Old Bay Flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
Shuck 3 to 4 large oysters per person, toss in Old Bay flour and fry in hot oil until golden brown.
2 pounds peeled carrots
Dice carrots into ¼-inch cubes.
Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast in a 400-degree oven until tender and slightly brown, about 15-20 minutes.
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Toss carrots in salsa macha, place in the center of a plate and sprinkle with feta cheese.
Place crabcakes and oysters on top of the carrots and cheese. Add dollops of aioli to the outside edge of plate.
Squeeze a fresh lemon over the seafood. Garnish with micro greens.