Bill and Cindy Walz, the Yin Yang Chefs at STIR Craft Cocktails & Modern Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Preston J. Slominski)
What makes a good chef? Cindy Walz answers without hesitation.
“First, a good chef has to have a lot of love and care about what they're doing,” Walz says.
“The difference between really good food and great food is that somebody who made it put all their love and their heart into it because they wanted to, because they know what it does,” she continues. “They nurture people from the heart all the way through the body. That's your first key to a great chef.”
Walz and her husband, Bill, know all of this firsthand; the couple has a long history as chefs through a variety of ventures in the Mt. Pleasant area.
“My husband and I are very entrepreneurial,” she explains. “We've worked in the business for years. What we call ourselves now is the Yin Yang Chefs. And we do what we do.”
‘Doing what they do’ takes place lately at STIR Craft Cocktails & Modern Kitchen
, located at 4855 E. Bluegrass Road, next to Hunter’s Ale House. Thursday through Saturday evenings guests at the restaurant are treated to Bill and Cindy’s culinary delights like Ginger Orange Sticky Ribs, Michigan Fried Brie, and Great Lakes Walleye Francaise.
But Walz smiles with extra delight when asked about an event happening twice a month at the restaurant: International Nights. The event has been a staple in the Mt. Pleasant community for over 25 years, going back to when Cindy and Bill owned a restaurant called Lemongrass on Mission Street.
“Thursday was kind of a slow night,” she explains when asked about how it all began at Lemongrass. “So, I said, ‘Let's think of something we can do to get Thursday to be an event.’ So, we started this multi-course International Night, and it just really took off. People really liked it. We did it the whole time we were there.”
Even after their Lemongrass restaurant closed, they continued the International Night tradition at various ventures they both have been involved with over the years. To this day, it continues to be a hit.
Guests enjoy Bill and Cindy Walz's culinary delights at STIR Craft Cocktails & Modern Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Preston J. Slominski)
“It's kind of nostalgic in this town and in this area. We have a huge following of it, and it's just fun to do. And people have a lot of fun eating it,” Walz says. “We generally do what they would do in finer restaurants in those countries which is pretty easy because most countries have lots of vegetables, have lots of seafood, meats and whatever to pick from, and then different creative presentations.”
International Nights at STIR happen each month on the second and fourth Wednesdays.
Coming up on July 12, guests will enjoy a night of Greek cuisine. On July 26, Walz says there will be a Mexican food theme. The cost is $42 per person for a six-course meal. Attendees reserve their spot by sending a reservation request via their website
. Walz says she personally responds to all reservation requests.
A STIR Craft Cocktails & Modern Kitchen staff member prepares to take a customer's order at the bar. (Photo courtesy of Preston J. Slominski)
Walz says she also is personally invested in making sure the food they serve is of the highest quality.
“I make a point to go to the farmers’ market to buy,” she says. “I make a point of calling local people and getting a local source for beef, getting a local source for pork, and getting a local source for chicken. Those things are important to us.”
But Walz also wants people to know you don’t have to be a culinary expert to prepare nutritious food day-in and day-out at home.
“Go somewhere and get the produce that you love,” she says when asked for advice on healthy meal planning. “You don't have to get out recipes. You get the things you like.”
“If it's peas and corn and spinach and tomatoes and cucumbers and beets and carrots, get those things. You bring them home, you clean them, you wash them, you get them ready,” she explains. “You blanch a few things. You roast a couple of things. You put them nicely in your refrigerator. You have a grill set up or your stove set up. You have some meat. Some good chicken, some good beef, some good pork, some whatever. You have that there ready to go so that you can mix and match.”
“If you like pasta, cook the pasta,” she continues. “Cook the pasta while you're prepping your vegetables and put it in your refrigerator. Cook the grains, cook the beans, cook the stuff. Have it all ready so that if everything falls apart and you go, ‘Oh, you know what? I'm just going to have a plate of spinach topped with this quinoa and these roasted vegetables and I'm going to put a little bit of oil and vinegar on it and call it a day.’ So, it's not as complicated as it seems. I think people just get overwhelmed.”
Cindy Walz serves one of her culinary delights to guests at STIR Craft Cocktails & Modern Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Preston J. Slominski)
“My passion is about showing people how to eat good food and enjoying good food,” Walz concludes, referencing her goals for both inside and outside of STIR.
“This is about eating good food, sharing good food with good friends and family and people, and building a community that supports good stewardship and good health.”
Learn more about Bill and Cindy Walz, what they are cooking up this weekend at STIR, and details about upcoming International Nights by visiting their website, yinyangchefs.com.