Get Fired Up


  If you’ve ever been to Woodfire, there’s a chance we’ve met. But since neither of us probably remember that: Hi. I’m Toby Christianson - owner and chef at Woodfire.

     We’ll be celebrating our 10th Anniversary this March and as anyone in the restaurant business can tell you, it’s a wild ride. I’m lucky in a lot of ways, but chief among them is that I get to cook for a living, preventing me from being homeless. There was a time when chefs would sleep in their cars with their knife rolls, just for a chance to cook food they were passionate about. I actually have a house to go back to, though most weeks it feels like I live at the restaurant anyway. There’s a good chance I’ve slept in that booth you just had lunch in. Running a restaurant is a demanding business, and no sane person would do it for this long if they didn’t love the work. If you lack passion, get out of the business. 

     Over the years, I’ve developed countless recipes for Woodfire. Some, like our famous meatloaf, have become staples of the menu. It’s loyal, it always tastes great, and it’s a fav you can always count on.  But chefs get bored easily, so there’s been significant evolution of our menu over the 10 years we’ve been feeding the Quad Cities. While still rooted in our comfort Americana, we like to push boundaries, innovate and find ways to make familiar food feel fresh and taste great. 

     Which brings us to this blog.

     What’s the point of a chef-driven restaurant when no one knows the chef?  You may have seen me through the years on local television or around town, but when’s the last time you dug through the WQAD video archives?  Probably never. Nobody has that kind of free time. 

     Woodfire is authentic. You’ll find my personal touch in everything from creating the menus to our ad campaigns. It’s time you got to see the behind the scenes a bit.

     The allure of a chef-driven restaurant is in the immediacy and authenticity of it. If you’re in my restaurant, you’re eating food that’s mine from start to finish. I dreamt up the recipe on a drive home from work one night, I stayed up until 2:00 AM after hours perfecting it, I sourced the highest quality ingredients to craft it, and I cooked it before it landed on your plate.

     You’ve enjoyed my recipes for the past 10 years and it’s been an absolute privilege to cook for you and your families. Now it’s time that you get to see behind the curtain, with an authentic and transparent look at the process and realities of being a chef of one the Quad Cities best known restaurants. Chef chat, insight on crafting new recipes, learning what it’s like to own a restaurant, and much more is coming your way. Get ready to fill your plate. And come back for seconds.

Mandle Addie