Chef Michael Werneke didn’t get much of a break after serving his final meal at the recently sold Rusty Nail Bar & Grille in Stowe on October 27. He begins his new role heading the kitchen of Waterbury’s Prohibition Pig this Wednesday.
“Mike came highly recommended from Eric [Warnstedt, chef-owner of Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill],” says Prohibition Pig owner Chad Rich. “It’s definitely going to work well.”
Werneke says he plans to keep many of original chef Brian Sheehan’s dishes, particularly the House Quarter Pounder with its topping of pimento cheese, a fried green tomato and house bacon. Rich says he’s grateful for a great start from Sheehan, who never planned on staying at the Pig much longer than it would take to get the kitchen going.
Werneke has plans for some big changes, too. He says he and Rich hope to show diners there’s more to the Pig than barbecue. Known for his predilection for pork, Werneke explains that he intends to prepare “house-smoked meats, but at the same time just make it a broader kind of menu without getting out of hand and offer some really, really nice bar food.”
That will involve exporting both his charcuterie board and his popular duck-fat fries from the Rusty Nail menu. And a lighter option: Rich says he looks forward to supping on Werneke’s ramen come winter.
Werneke warns diners not to expect an immediate transformation of the menu, since he’ll need time to settle in at his new work place. But he’ll have help. His former general manager at the Rusty Nail, Kate Wise, will be tending bar just feet away from the