Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

So yes. it has indeed been awhile.  Ive been working on a farm for the past 2 months, living a totally different lifestyle than a cook would tend to lead. Up at 5:50am, out at 7 work till 1-ish, lunch, work till 6. In bed at, im embarassed to say, 9 or 10. Repeat. Saturday is easily my favorite day of the week because I get to go to the market and sell all the stuff Ive been planting, watering and growing. Rather, helping grow.  So yes, Ive been super busy and updates are at hand. This will be one for the books.

I took a quick weekend trip to Manhattan and ate at Greys Papaya, Artisanal (for champagne and cheese alone), Gramercy Tavern,  Magnolia bakery and Balthazar.  Everything was amazing especially at Balthazar and  Gramercy; Ive never had a bad meal there (Gramercy). This time was no different, but there was DILL on 5 out of 7 dishes. Weird. A little repetetive, but all in all delicious.

So back to farming. Why: Because I couldn’t find a job in NYC or DC, and Id love to grow some produce for my restaurant in the future, and know how to do it right. Where: Argyle, NY (30 min. north of Saratoga Springs).  Pleasant Valley Farm is the name, and we’re Naturally Certified. Same as USDA organic, but without all the fees and bs.

Right now, we are harvesting lettuce heads, scallions, last of the strawberries, beginning/middle of peas, swiss chard, yellow squash, zucchini, garlic, green beans, cucumbers, and about 15 different herbs.  Tomatoes are coming along; we’ve got about 500+ plants.  We have over 800 winter squash plants and as many leeks and more onions than both.  Ill get a photo of me on the transplanter called a waterwheel, where i sit and plant tons of plants in a fraction of time that it would take to transplant by hand. Lots of learning here, and tons of great produce.

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So It has been way too long since I last wrote about my station, or what I was doing, so Ill catch everybody up on everything.  After I finished working on the grill, I moved to the plancha.  3 weeks of cleaning something more than I was cooking on it.  My first week was “semana grande” in San Sebastian, which is just another excuse for people to go out, eat, drink, and go crazy.  We were booked over capacity for both lunch and dinner service.  I learned very quickly what to do, and how to do it. The guy in the photo below, Leandro, was my chef de partie, and one of the best cooks Ive ever worked with.

Needless to say, when he tells you something, you pretty much do it without hesitation.

After 3 weeks of plancha, I moved to the R&D section, called Images Desarrollamiento.  Here I do small research projects and special mis en place for VIPS, or photo shoots.  Its interesting, and although I can’t talk specifically about what Im doing, I can tell you it has made me think a lot about food philosophy.

For example, one day I was cutting rabitos (pig tails) to square them off a little, and Leandro came up to me and said: “What are you doing?” I said “we square them off now, according to (one of the sous chefs)”. He replied “They only want natural shapes on the plates, no geometry”.

Now this is an interesting point.  No geometry. It sends a message to the diner. They of course, dont realize it all the time, or even ever.  But if you make a cylinder of parsley meringue out of methocel, the diner looks at it and thinks, subconciously, ‘they have taken something and modified it.’  This isnt necessarily a bad thing, but its a style of cooking. A style of thinking about communicating a message to people who see your food, eat your food, and even cook your food. Natural shapes/forms. Its really a great philosophy, in my opinion.  Nowadays we have sphere molds, block molds, triangle terrines, and a million ways to make a swoosh of sauce on a plate.

Since Ive been here, I havent seen a swoosh of anything on a plate.  Let alone triangles.  The only exception would be a sphere of white chocolate made with liquid nitrogen.  Thats it.

So I leave in 2 weeks, and Im pretty happy about it. Ill miss this place, the energy, the food, the philosophy.  But there are other places in the US that have similar ideals, that will hopefully pay me too.

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