Archive for March, 2009
The website Tasting Table Everywhere asked me recently if I only cook meat and offal and my response was, “hell no I love fish and fish offal”. After our talk about fish offal and cooking whole fish I was asked for my thoughts on over fishing, and how people could learn more of how to cook fish offal.
To read the article continue after the break.
The march in flight magazine from airtran airways has an article called “the offal truth” which interview a few chefs on their use of offal in their restaurants. Continue to read the article is after the break.
After much request I would like to introduce the winners essays. Enjoy them as much as I did, I look forward to spending more time with both of them in the kitchen.
Good afternoon Chef, my name is Derek Dammann and I am chef of DNA restaurant in Montreal. I saw that you are offering an opportunity to stage for your annual Head to Tail dinner. I would like for you to consider me as a candidate. I admire your style of cooking and find that my approach is very similar in the way that you need to take a few steps back before you can move forward. Thinking in an old world way, and bringing back the artisinal traditions that have been forgotten. The “whole animal” philospohy is something that we practice at my restaurant as well. Using the entire animal, is both respectful to the beast, and exciting for us cooks. As well as having the opportunity to allow the customer to try somethings that they may never have had the chance to try before. I find that places with the approach that you have at Incanto offer a dining experience rather that a dinner out and I believe that is the direction that the food world is heading. Having a menu that is interesting, local, interactive and educational, that allows the guest to have fun and not just watch each other eat. That being said, I hope I get the chance to take part in this event. Best regards, Derek
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
Some of the fondest memories from my childhood were derived from my parents cooking. I remember standing next to my father on a hot south Texas summer night as he grilled fajitas, chicken and mollejas (sweet breads). As hungry as I would be for the mesquite grilled meat, the true reward for standing by my father’s side and waiting was getting the first hot off the grill pieces of mollejas. I remember taking a sizzling hot piece in my hand, blowing on it to cool it down and then crunching through the crisp mesquite smoked crust and into the warm juicy, buttery center. That was complete heaven for me.
The point I am trying to make with this story is that my childhood has been filled with offal eating. Growing up in a Mexican household meant eating many atypical dishes from most American households, especially offal. For me there are several offal that are comfort food, especially dishes like mollejas, lengua (beef tongue), menudo (tripe stew) and tacos de tripas (intestines).
Another favorite childhood dish was my mother’s lengua. She would place the lengua in the oven in the morning, and would not pull it out until she got back from work in the afternoon. I loved coming home from school those days and smelling the rich roasting beef scent permeating throughout the house. My mom would shred the lengua meat and stuff it into corn tortillas with shredded lettuce, chopped onions and my grandmother’s home-made salsa.
With the time I have spent in the culinary world I have had many opportunities to learn more about working with offal. Some knowledge has been passed on by other individuals or gained through my own research. I credit the book Charcuterie, as well as any one of Diana Kennedy’s books, as inspiration for many of my offal adventures. At Zaytinya in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to work with Chef Mike Isabella. He demonstrated how to work with items like lamb tongue and brain. He also pushed me to pursue my love for charcuterie, which led me to create a merguez recipe for the restaurant. Last year I left Zaytinya and transferred to one of our sister restaurants Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. Under the tutelage of Chef Joe Raffa I have continued to pursue my love for offal and develop Mexican inspired offal dishes. I have been involved with creating an in-house chorizo recipe, lengua torta (beef tongue sandwich) and my favorite, queso de puerco (Mexican head cheese).
When I discovered Offal Good last year I was so excited that a chef had dedicated a restaurant towards the preparations of offal. It inspired me to experiment more with offal dishes at my restaurant and reconsider what can be cooked for dinner. There is still so much more to learn about offal cooking and I hope to continue to educate myself on the subject. I hope that part of this continuing education will involve the opportunity to assist you and your staff during Incanto’s annual Head to Tail dinner.
Just 1 week ago I received a letter and video telling me I need to stop serving Foie Gras. I read the letter and watched the video: all things I had heard and seen before. What came next was very interesting. A phone call asking whether I had received their package and if I would stop serving Foie Gras at Incanto. I said “NO!!”
The response was an angry, “We are coming to protest be prepared” . After a few conversations with my business partner, Mark Pastore, we have come to agree that this will be our “Alamo” if they come to fight. But here is something to mull over, after tons of research, Mark has made our argument in a much more educated and thoughtful way than I ever could, in our “letters from Incanto”.
As promised today is the day for the stage winners to be announced. This was not an easy decision I reviewed and read over 25 essays and resumes for these 2 coveted spots. The applications came from all around the country it amazed me how many people wanted to travel for these work days here. But the info you have all been waiting for: Please pack your knives,
I look forward to having you both in my kitchen. If there are any questions please email me ASAP.
Thank you everyone for your essays and resumes I really appreciate all the effort and thought put into them. I wish i could have more people in the kitchen but there is only so much room.
I have decided to do something a little different for this year’s head to tail dinner, inspired by the constant requests for knowledge about how to cook offal. Now’s your chance to learn. I will be accepting 2 volunteers to help with the event this year. You get to come into my kitchen and help cook 2 nights of head to tail dinners. You will work your ass off, have some fun and learn a ton, but there are rules to this game. This offer is open to professional cooks only. You will be an unpaid volunteer. You must commit to working in my kitchen for 5 days, from Friday, March 20th through Wednesday the 25th except for Tuesday, which you’ll have off to recover. You must submit your resume and a short essay on why you should be one of the chosen ones. This is a busy time and I don’t have time to be baby sitting. The Head to Tail dinner is a multi-course menu with a shit load of detailed work..
Here is the pay out; you get both of my t-shirts to take home and you will be able to sit down and enjoy the head to tail menu in the dinning room on the last night.
Email your resume and brief essay to me at email@example.com by next Wednesday, March 4th. I will make a final decision and contact the 2 lucky winners on March 6th to confim your participation. Ultimately, this is a fun opportunity to be a part of a great team for a week and learn how to cook some innards.
That time of the year has come again, the 6Th Annual head to Tail. This year we will be doing 2 days of this special menu featuring the wonderful parts of those animals that we all know and love. The menu is fun I have been planning and refining it since last year. I cant wait to see you all there.
For more information about booking a reservation go here. I have included the menu below.
6th Annual Head to Tail Dinner
Monday March 23 & Wednesday March 25, 2009
Note: menu subject to change depending upon availability.
Venison heart tartare, foie gras & ciccioli brioche
Goose intestines with fava beans & artichokes
Big brain, little brain with asparagus
Cordedda with peas, mint & sheep’s milk polenta
Coffee & Doughnuts: pork liver, blood, chocolate, espresso
* Optional wine pairings will be available by the glass or flight