Meet the Chef: Charlie Mitchell of Villanelle in NYC

At D’Artagnan we proudly work with chefs across the country, providing them with quality ingredients to express their creativity in the kitchen. In this blog post, we introduce you to Chef Charlie Mitchell, who leads the kitchen at Villanelle in New York City.  Read on for more about this exciting young chef who started his career in an unusual way. 

One year after leaving college, 19-year-old Charlie Mitchell started cooking at a well-known bar & grill in Detroit, MI (more on that later). He began as a pantry cook and worked his way up to chef tournant, which is a relief cook who helps all the different cooks in the kitchen.

A desire to expand his knowledge inspired Chef Charlie to find work at Forest in Birmingham, MI with Chef Nick Janutol, an Eleven Madison Park alum. Working at Forest allowed him to grow as a cook, focus on technique, discipline, and develop a love for the craft. At Forest, he worked his way from morning shift lunch cook to sous chef in 3 years.

After that challenge, he was ready to take on the New York City culinary scene, working at restaurants like Betony and Eleven Madison Park. His experience at these luminary restaurants eventually landed him a role with the opening team of Villanelle in Greenwich Village in New York City.

Villanelle ExteriorVillanelle is a farm-to-table restaurant in Greenwich Village that serves a New American menu, along with a curated wine list and imaginative cocktails. They depend on the famous Union Square Market – just two blocks away – and D’Artagnan for the highest quality seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Chef Charlie competed in our most recent Cassoulet War with a refreshing take on the classic dish. His Cassoulet de la Soul, with collard greens, black-eyed peas, smoked pork, and andouille sausage was out of this world.

We gave chef our own version of the Proust Questionnaire and got to know him better.

What was the first kitchen job you held?

My first kitchen opportunity at 24 Grille actually arose while I was working valet at the Westin hotel in downtown Detroit. I was pulling the sous chef’s car from the garage when I asked him for a job and for some reason he said yes. He started me out on the pantry station which consisted of salads and dessert prep. Eventually, I was the chef tournant.

Has any crazy stuff happened during your time in the kitchen? What takes the gold medal?

When working in some of the high-pressure kitchens I’ve been in it’s inevitable that crazy things will happen. A lot of those things I feel should not be shared outside of the kitchen, but what impacted me the most I’d say was my first NYC position at Betony. Betony was very intense and for me, it was maybe my second week. I saw the AM sous chef send his entire lunch hot line home for failing to get through their chef tasting. That was the moment I know exactly how hard I needed to work.

Duck Pasta w Ramps & ricotta  dart duck legs
Pasta stuffed with braised duck, ricotta with fennel pollen, pickled ramp, and onion soubise.

Favorite music to work to in the kitchen?

Favorite kitchen music will always be a mixture of R&B, soul, and funk. Those genres keep me happy and focused while also reminding me of the reason I started cooking in the first place, which is my grandparents.

What’s your favorite post-shift snack?

A favorite post-meal can be tricky. It’s very contingent upon how good of a service you’ve had because, believe it or not, that really affects your appetite. But in an ideal world, my favorite snack will forever be hot wings with a beer – and don’t forget the celery and ranch dressing.

Venison w artichokes & grilled lettuce dart New Zealand venison loin
New Zealand venison with artichoke, grilled romaine and bread purée.

What is your favorite D’Artagnan product?

Honestly, the New Zealand venison loin is some of the best meat I’ve ever cooked in my life. We absolutely love cooking it. Beautiful color, very lean, and a clean flavor.

Name one ingredient you can’t live without.

Earlier in my career, I would’ve chosen the obvious ingredient which is salt, but now that I’ve been cooking for a while one item I always I want in my kitchen is mushrooms. They allow you to build tremendous flavor but also can be hidden if used properly.

What is the weirdest or most interesting ingredient you’ve ever cooked with?

The Buddha’s hand was the most interesting product I’ve worked with so far, just because I couldn’t understand it. It’s a citrus that has no seeds, no meat, and looks like a hand but is extremely aromatic and if cooked properly, very tender.

Amish Chicken w potato & mustard dart chicken
Brined, steamed and pan roasted chicken with chunky mashed potato, mustard seed, and chicken leg confit.

Best meal of your life so far? Or fondest food memory?

Not sure if I’ve had the meal of my life yet but the most memorable eating experience was the first time I tried fresh pasta at Forest. I went in for dinner soon after I was hired and that bite of pasta convinced me to make cooking my life.

If you could share a meal with anyone, who would it be? What would you eat?

Anyone? If I could choose anyone to get food with it would be lunch with Alice Waters. Hopefully, she would make me whatever she wants and I’d eat it with a smile on my face.

Berkshire pork Villanelle Spring Menu
 Berkshire pork belly with Chinese long beans, fava beans, haricot verts, pea purée, and pork consommé.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

That’s tough because I’ve wanted to be a chef my whole life. But if I had to choose something else then it would be in the music industry. Music is very close to food as far as how it can completely change the way you’re feeling at the moment, and I would want to be a part of that.

Thanks, Chef Charlie for sharing your story with us.

Follow Chef Charlie and Villanelle on Instagram or Facebook for more gorgeous food photos like these. Their photos are by the talented Signe Birck.

Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.

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