My earlier days as a cook were spent in a variety of different types of places that all added something to my skill set and helped me hone my skills. I went from cheesesteak restaurant to working at a steakhouse, banquet kitchen and high end Mexican restaurant, then eventually landing in NYC to work in some very well known and established kitchens. In all these places I not only picked up skills and technique but also developed a work ethic and mental toughness that is so necessary in this line of work. One challenging aspect of the job, especially in high end kitchens was competing for positions and creative input with other well versed cooks.
My favorite dishes are always the specials. Curing meats and making different kinds of charcuterie are always the most satisfying projects. Throwing together whatever comes to mind at the moment, or planning something with specialty ingredients from the farm is definitely the most exciting part of the job for me as well. I also love to cook ingredients or different meats that maybe seem a little unusual to most, but prepared into something with a familiar approach. Like our tongue and cheek Reuben sandwich, or Buffalo style pig ears.
We source our ingredients from several different farms and Co-ops. Autumn's Harvest for beef, Clawhammer Farms - pork, Battenkill Valley Creamery - milk and cream, Argyle Farms - Yogurt, Sheldon Farms - potatoes, Bloominghill Farms -Produce, grits, wild greens and fruit, Dirty Boots- Produce, Belle and Evans- Chicken, Lancaster Farm Fresh- specialty produce, maple syrup, duck eggs, Hudson Valley- eggs . We get our products from as many local farms as possible.
When the vegetables and meats already taste amazing it makes my job easy, and simply takes a little technique and a lot of love to prepare something very satisfying and memorable for our guests. I've learned that mentality and discovered how to treat great ingredients throughout my different work experiences in New York. I am proud to have worked at seasonal and market driven restaurants because it's given me a deep appreciation for the special ingredients that might only be around for a few weeks , and how that challenges chefs to be creative. It has also allowed me to work with other amazing cooks with the same passion and drive for thoughtfully sourced ingredients. The relationships that develop between farmers and chefs is a necessary connection that is luckily getting stronger and therefore elevating the dining scene all over the country.
Working long hours in a busy kitchen fueled by coffee and adrenaline makes people act like cartoon versions of themselves and also sparks up the most ridiculous conversations imaginable.