Each month, we ask one of Pittsburgh's chefs: What do you do and how do you eat when you're out of the kitchen?
Live: E. Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Work: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
What do you cook at home?
Lately its been a lot of vegetables. Recently Momofuku opened up Kaizen Trading Company near me which specializes in fermentations. I’ve been using their chickpeas, lentils and sweet potatoes experimenting with them in broths and soups. The results have been this rich, umami profile that’s really interesting.
When you’re out of the kitchen, where do you like to dine?
Mostly I seek out New American cuisine, places with a regional focus on ingredients. In Pittsburgh you guys are killing it. Justin at Cure is an idol. Richard [DeShantz] from Butcher and the Rye also is doing incredible things from the space (like that insane wall of rye/bourbon) to the food. Kate Romane (E2) is amazing, sourcing a ton of her product from her lady’s farm and making beautiful, rustic food. It’s not enough just to source local though, shits got to be good. And there are definitely people in Pittsburgh doing it well. Outside of Pittsburgh, Underbelly (Houston), Vinegar Hill House (Brooklyn), and Humboldt and Jackson ( soon to open, Brooklyn) are all amazing. At Humboldt and Jackson, we will be are doing a new dinner series coming up and we are really excited about that.
Where do you go for a drink?
I work at a brewery so I’m drinking alot of beer; but also since its summer I’m drinking a lot of rosés and trying to embrace more ryes and whiskeys. The Brewery has a amazing tasting room with beers that you can only find there, I definitely recommend anyone to check us out. Torst (Brooklyn) is another great tasting room for beer. In Pittsburgh, Lynn from Acacia is a friend who is doing unbelievable drinks in a great space. In Nashville, The Patterson House’s cocktail program is unreal. DC also has some hidden-ish solid cocktail lounges too.
Where do you spend your days off?
Cooking at home. Its much different to cook for 2 or 3 than it is for 50, so on days off I like to experiment/play a bit with new flavors and ingredients. And I would definitely be taking a walk with my lady, exploring the different neighborhoods in Brooklyn. I also help out with a community farm so probably some time there too.
What would you do if you had a weekend off and it wasn’t a holiday?
Charleston, SC is a city that is not so much under the radar anymore but its beautiful with phenomenal food…Husk, Fig, Bin 152, Xiao Bao Biscuit. I also might say…Pittsburgh. I grew up in Philly and never spent anytime in Pittsburgh and its blown me away. Its this great balance of an urban setting but surrounded by nature. I’ve been hanging out with the guys from Wild Purveyors and its amazing to spend a morning foraging and then work with incredibly talented people like Justin (Cure) and Kate (E2).
What made you decide to be a chef?
I grew up cooking for my family and it kinda just morphed from there (and it seemed like a great way to pick up ladies when I was younger). I was working in the front of the house through college and after school, where I studied creative writing, I realized I wanted to cook. I went to the French Culinary Institute and it just spiraled from there. For me, cooking goes beyond just a meal; its a real interest in the local food system and how you can take something fresh/local and honor it by making it into something beautiful.
What is the Brooklyn Brewery MASH and why is a NY brewery so vested in communities outside their home base?
The brewery was founded by individuals who wanted to support their community. Breweries historically have been in the heart of their communities as a gathering place. As a result our founders wanted to bring that tradition back, supporting everything from neighborhood artisans to artist creating a rich community experience. The MASH is really a way to carry that set of ideals outside of Brooklyn to places already exemplifying that attitude and highlight them. And its about collaboration, a chance to see how different places approach things like food, art and culture. We learn just as much if not more from the MASH tour, bringing those ideas back to Brooklyn and expanding on them. Collaboration seeds innovation and elevates a market rather than a pure competitive marketplace where you are seeing food/drink/community scenes decline.