Meet Chris Teigland, head chef of Community (and newly opened Birdhouse in Erie), and the man responsible for delivering its unique comfort food menu that has helped it become a local favorite of Lafayette. He’s always had a creative itch, whether it was in a kitchen or in a rock band.
Chris, we are happy you have found your creative outlet at Community, serving up amazing dishes to Lafayette and surrounding areas. Congratulations on opening Birdhouse!
Q: What inspired you to led you to your current career?
A: I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I was a banker for a long time. In college I had some cook jobs to pay the bills. I enjoyed it so much and would end up cooking at home, cook when I was frustrated, cook when I was happy, or just cook when I could for my friends. When I was at the bank I kept getting promoted and there was good money. But, one day they pulled me in the office and asked me, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I think it was District Manager kind of talk and I quit that day. The thought of being there for 5 years was too much. And so in the meantime, I was making breakfast burritos and selling them at various construction sites and soon I began to make more money doing that than I did as a banker! And then one thing led to another. I never thought as a kid that this is what I wanted to do, but once I started doing it and realized I could get paid to do something that makes me super happy, is a creative outlet, I get to take care of people – which is so much a privilege for me, I couldn’t do anything else.
Q: How long have you been at Community?
A: 9 months.
Q: How long you consider yourself as a Chef?
A: Like “real Chef,” maybe 7 years, but I’ve been doing this since I was about 18.
Q: Where do you live and how long have you been there?
A: We moved back here from Chicago 9 months ago. We were in Colorado, got married and then we both took restaurant jobs in Chicago. Then my current business partner here at Community reached out and asked to have me join him here!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: Probably Japan. I just love Japanese food. I love all the travel shows about that area and just want to spend time and “nerd out” there. It’s probably a bad time to want to travel though (COVID).
Q: What is something interesting that you’re working on right now?
A: I love Via Toscana in Louisville. I remember going there when I was a little younger with my family and when you step in it’s like a totally different experience. Busaba is also so freaking awesome.
Q: What is your favorite movie or the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
A: I don’t remember the first movie I ever saw, but my favorite movie is The Goonies, for sure. It’s one that I always quote – all the time! I am worried that they’re going to remake it one day and just ruin it.
Q: What advice would you give to people?
A: Just listen to people more. Don’t tell everybody what to do, especially in the cultural climate right now. Maybe, “say nothing and let me hear your problems”.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: Obviously, I’d like to go to Japan. Also, I would love to open another restaurant in another city and even another state. An important item on the list is to go on our honeymoon. We haven’t had our first actual honeymoon yet because after our wedding we moved to Chicago, then we moved back here and we got super busy setting up everything for Community. We were finally going to do it in March, but that’s when the world shut down with the pandemic.
Q: What is your favorite music or band that you would like to see(dead or alive)?
A: I’d love to have seen Queen. I also love Foo Fighters as a current band. I think I’ve always loved rock ‘n roll of every genre. I always loved Queen and I thought it would be so sweet to see his show. I saw Foo Fighters and it was so awesome… my brain just melted for 3 hours.
Q: Is there something that makes you nostalgic about Lafayette or Louisville?
A: It’s called something else now, but it used to be Ralphies. It was a great little dive bar. I like OTIS which is a super awesome coffee shop. Wildwood Guitars is my favorite place and where I got my first expensive guitar. I dropped out of high school and worked full time to buy that guitar. My mom was so upset and yes, I went back and finished high school.
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you take them for lunch?
A: Probably Ryne Sandberg. He was my super hero growing up, and played for the Cubs. I would definitely bring him here, to Community. Then if he keeps coming back, we’ll be friends, hang out, and he’d invite me into a suite for games at the world series. ha!
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Lafayette or Louisville?
A: I love that it is like a “micro downtown.” I can go end to end in one night and I’m not lost in skyscrapers. Everybody that lives around here loves it and there are also people from other nearby cities coming here to escape and enjoy the downtown. I love seeing the same people each week that come in.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: Hopefully still here, but maybe with a few additional restaurants! Maybe in a position where I’m not behind the scenes as much and am more in front of people, out on the floor. I also like teaching…getting new cooks and training them, so hopefully more into a role at some point where I’m teaching and coaching people. Also, hopefully have a retirement home by the beach to keep the wife happy!
Q: (Even for friends and family) What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I have a theology degree. I thought I was gonna be a youth pastor or something for a long time. I felt that if there was someone I could have gone to in high school who shook me and said, “what are you doing?” I might have made fewer stupid decisions. I wanted to be able to do that for someone else. Now, I feel like I sort of am doing that for the crew in the kitchen.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Food (it was my mom’s love language), Happy, and Laughing.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and you have to choose anyone to be your co-star, who would that be?
A: It’s gonna be somebody that makes me look more handsome, so I would maybe choose Danny McBride, or Sloth from Goonies!
Q: If you have a full-time staff that is fully paid for, who would you choose? Driver, Nanny, Personal Trainer, Chef?
A: It would be a driver and trainer. I absolutely hate driving. Also having a trainer would force me to work out more. As a chef, I’m always tasting, tasting, tasting. There’s some truth to the saying, “don’t trust a skinny chef.”
Q: Anything that you would like to add or improve upon to this town?
A: I wish more things were open later, just for the younger people. It’s a bummer, especially for restaurant people, who get off from work and everything is shut down.