Born in Michoacán, Mexico to “groovy seventies” parents, Talish Barrow moved around a fair amount as a child before the family settled in New Orleans where he fell in love with restaurants. “I remember having lunch at Commander’s Palace and being totally enchanted with every detail of the experience”.
After attending arts high school in New Orleans, he went on to earn a BFA in acting at New York University and stayed in Manhattan for the next ten years, working in the restaurants of Danny Meyer and Alfred Portale while pursuing performance opportunities. He relocated to Madison in 2004 and enrolled in the MFA program for theatre directing at the University of Wisconsin.
Upon graduation, he made the decision to return to his first love: restaurants. As he points out, similar personality types are found in both professions. “I love restaurant people for the same reason I love show people: because of their fundamental understanding that the show must go on.”
He opened Graze with Chef Tory Miller in 2010 and continued as General Manager until December of 2012 when he joined Food Fight Restaurant Group as the GM of the Avenue Bar, moving on to manage Johnny Delmonico’s, Food Fight’s signature steak restaurant in July of 2014.
Talish is a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, the premier international examining body of wine and spirit professionals. He joined the Noble Chef Hospitality team as a managing partner of Rare Steakhouse in September of 2015. “I am so excited to be working with Chef Travis Vaughn, who has a wonderful take on classic steakhouse fare. It is great to be part of a restaurant that carries on the grand tradition of making ‘dining out’ a truly special experience.”
Talish and his partner Maureen have been together for 20 years (!) and live on the Near East side of Madison.
Q & A with Talish Barrow
Tell us your most memorable wine experience:
One of the most memorable wines I have ever tasted is a 1968 Bual Madeira from D’Oliveiras. I was in my twenties working at Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC and it was the first time I really understood how many layers of flavor are possible and how age can transform a wine. I have certainly tasted more rare bottles over the years, but that Madeira stays with me.
What do you love to eat?
Every Sunday I find myself craving pasta. My mother is an amazing cook and 100% Italian American, so I grew up eating some wonderful pasta dishes; Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, Pasta Fagiole, Pesto Rotini for example. Most are simple, humble food but there is nothing I would rather eat.
What is your work philosophy?
My hospitality philosophy is: Treat the opportunity to give someone an amazing experience at your restaurant as an honor and a privilege, because it is.
Who do you admire in your industry?
Some of my heroes include MFK Fisher, James Beard, Julia Child and Danny Meyer. Basically, I admire people who have been at the forefront of increasing the general appreciation and standards for great food and hospitality in this country.
If you had a million dollars for charity, who would you give it to?
If I had a million dollars for charity, I would love to start a working farm with vineyards and a restaurant all partially staffed with at-risk teens.
What are you listening to, watching, or reading these days?
I walk to work and listen to a lot of podcasts. Some of my favorites include; Wine for Normal People, WTF with Marc Maron, and This American Life.