This decision each year gets harder and harder. There was not one bad person in the bunch so it made this years decision even harder. I look forward to welcoming this years 2 new stages in my Kitchen. Thank you all for applying I wish everyone all the best, I wish I could accept more there is just not enough room.
The 2 stages are:
Elias Seda from Washington D.C The Mini Bar
Andrew Ticer from Memphis, TN Hogs & Hominy
Both of there essays are below with there names at the top of each.
Elias Seda’s essay below:
When I was growing up all I wanted was to make people happy through the power of food.
There was nothing more satisfying than watching people’s delight in sampling one of my culinary creations.
Family gatherings were always a treat because I was able to watch all these great chefs work their magic in the kitchen. My attraction to cooking was due to the respect these family cooks earned, the knowledge they had acquired and the simplicity of their food. I was intrigued by the power they wielded over people through their cooking and it inspired me to pursue my culinary career with hopes that I could make people just as happy through my cooking.
After graduating from high school I took a year off from my studies because I had no idea what to do with my life. With that free time I reflected back on my time cooking with family and how I was at my happiest when I was working in the kitchen with them. So I decided to get a kitchen job, but I had no experience as a cook so I started at the bottom as a dishwasher. It didn’t matter that I was just washing dishes because I knew that as long as I found my way into a kitchen there would be an opportunity to learn something about food and cooking. The next step to continue to feed my passion for cooking was culinary school. It provided me with some of the beginning tools in becoming the best chef I could possibly be. Around this time I was introduced to my future chef and friend Omar Rodriguez. He provided me an opportunity to intern at Oyamel, a Jose Andres restaurant, in Washington, DC. I instantly fell in love with Oyamel and I wanted to learn everything about Mexican cuisine. My goal as an intern was to master what it took to be a great line cook and hopefully land myself a full time job at Oyamel. After three months I landed myself a full time job and within a year I had achieved my goal of learning all the stations on the line. Even with my success at Oyamel I still yearned to learn more about cooking and wanted to continue to master my craft.
So the following year I tried out for one of the coveted cook positions at Minibar. My hard work paid off and I was offered the opportunity be a part of Minibar’s culinary magic. The chefs at Minibar were doing things with food that I never thought possible. Not only did they teach me new techniques but they helped me develop my palate and provided me with a new perspective of what it meant to be a chef. Despite everything I’ve learned within the past two & half years I still keep things in perspective and I know I’m nowhere close to being the chef I want to be. I still consider myself a student of the culinary arts and this is why I would love the opportunity to be a part of the Head to Tail dinner.
My family is filled with many great chefs such as my mother, grandmother and tio Dave.
Andy Ticer’s essay is below:
Rooter to the tooter
After hearing that this year is the tenth anniversary of Incanto’s head to tail dinner, I was impressed. It’s hard to believe that it started that long ago. My business partner Michael Hudman and I have followed Chris Cosentino since our first dining experience at Incanto six years ago. It was the first dinner we had state side that recalled to our memories our time in Italy, and ever since it has had a lasting impact on our lives. The dinner has even inspired our own version of a head to tail dinner, our Swine and Wine dinner here in Memphis, in it’s fifth year this February. Looking back at how our restaurant has evolved, it’s amazing the impact that Chris has had on us, and the domino effect it has had on our community. Its awe inspiring that an idea from someone in San Francisco could affect our city across the country.
The relationships born with our farmers out of whole animal utilization and from our vegetable farmers in the surrounding south have helped to shape our restaurant and Michael and I as cooks. Every week our farmers deliver a whole pig, three whole lamb, and a forequarter of beef to our restaurants’ back door. They all come from a proper farm not two hours from our restaurant. If you stop and do the math over the past five years, it’s fucking awesome to know that we have done these things when it’s not convenient, more expensive, but it’s the right way to operate a restaurant. We stay true to our roots and where the food comes from. We know what the animals eat, the farmers, and how the farms are managed. We use Newman Farm heritage Berkshire Pork and Dorper Lamb, Claybrooks Farm Beef, vegetables from Woodson Ridge, Hanna Organics, and Delta Sol. We pride ourselves on using locally farmed products, utilized wholly with little waste.
Breaking down the animals has become just as much a meditation to us as making fresh pasta. We work with these animals, creating new and inventive ways to utilize it in its entirety, to respect the life that lies on our butcher block. Not only do we support our local farmers, but we also open the eyes of our customers. When we first put a pig cheek, a trotter, or a pastrami pig tongue on our menus, people wouldn’t dare order it. Now they demand it. Through Chris’s example, not only are we better cooks, but our city has been educated, our farmers have been supported and we’ve contributed to the growing food movement in Memphis.
Incanto and Chris have had a lasting presence that inspire us to push ourselves, become more creative, and they motivate us to do our best work. One way that Michael and I believe that we can continue to grow as cooks and chefs is to constantly learn. We will never know everything there is to know in this business. It’s part of why I love to cook as much as I do. There is always someone working harder, and learning more that pushes us to continue to try and be the best we can. It’s so important to us that our cooks know and respect continuing their own education in the kitchen, and we try to lead by example. I would love the opportunity to cook the tenth anniversary dinner. It doesn’t matter if you have ten restaurants or zero, there is always room to learn and to keep yourself grounded and humble, and I believe that I could learn new and better ways to think about full animal utilization from someone for whom I have a great amount of respect.
It would be my extreme pleasure to participate in the tenth annual dinner. I know that what I would learn would further my abilities as a cook and as a contributor to the support of our farming community. Thank you for considering my essay.
Andrew N. Ticer
Hog & Hominy
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