In Uncategorized on August 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm
Chef Nookie grating potatoes at his home in Cambridge
There’s a lot you can learn about a chef by visiting their home kitchen. On our visit to Chef Nookie’s Cambridge kitchen, we were greeted by a giant fishtub of meats. “That’s for my new project,” Nookie said, nodding in the direction of the assorted Flintstones-sized racks of various meats. At first, we didn’t spend a lot of time among the numerous bookshelves stuffed with cookbooks, we were whisked outside for a lap around the backyard garden to gather some produce before we made ourselves at home around the over-sized Butcher’s block that is the focal point of the kitchen. Behind us hung a framed poster of the chef’s most recent claim to fame, third place on Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates, which just concluded last month.
Then the fritter batter hits the pan
Since his return home from the show, he found himself facing some life-threatening health issues that landed him a three-week stint in the hospital and since his recovery, he hasn’t slowed down a bit. In fact, as he puts it, now is the time that he has to work the hardest and that is indeed what he is doing. He’s currently in the process of opening two restaurants, one in Kendall Square and the other in New York. “That’s what all the meat is for” he said with genuine excitement. “We’re in the process of experimenting”. When he isn’t working to open two restaurants in two different cities, he’s the man who keeps the Boston Red Sox fueled for games. And, if that isn’t enough, he is the father of two young boys and he and his wife are expecting their third child. Having a plate that big is enough to drive anyone crazy and leave them in a frazzled state, but Nookie is cool, calm and collected as he excitedly shares all that he has on his plate.
Chef Nookie gives the fritters a flip
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In In the Kitchen with..., Restaurant on August 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm
Maybe it’s because Lumiere sits where Brigham’s used to be, a favorite place of mine from my days as a Newton youth, or maybe it’s just because Michael Leviton is a beast in the kitchen. Regardless, our experience and time with Chef Leviton in his Lumiere kitchen (he’s also a Newton native, represent) was invaluable, we sat there for close to two hours soaking up all the info we could, highlighted by one ridiculous delicious berry shortcake he made for us. Michael Leviton is no fool, in fact, quite the opposite. We never fully know what chefs will be like when we step into their kitchens to meet with them, while each and every one of them has been quite gracious to give us a small piece of their precious time, Chef Leviton felt more like a mentor above all else. He’s a calculated man, measured with his responses and there is as much thought into the philosophy of Lumiere at the front of the house as there is with the food that is being made in the back. It’s no coincidence that Lumiere is consistently one the top restaurants in Boston, because Chef Leviton’s dedication and craft is transparent across the board. Read the rest of this entry »
In In the Kitchen with..., Restaurant on August 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm
On a recent balmy night in a hotter-than-the-depths-of-hell basement kitchen, we met with the JM Curley team to make their take on a Fried Catfish Sandwich – which, like the rest of the menu, was anything but ordinary. With rap music blasting, the kitchen trio wasn’t letting the unbearably uncomfortable heat phase them as they heartily and playfully joked with each other while working to feed a boisterous and crowded dining room upstairs that had gathered for Trivia night.
Executive Chef Sam Monsour, with his artfully tattooed arms and sporting a flat-brimmed PBR baseball hat, took a brief break from the fun to show us how to make a dish off of their “Sammy’s Sevens” Menu, a playful chalkboard that displays that evenings specials. While there are some fluctuating dishes that appear, there’s always a take on the classics like a PB&J, burgers, popcorn and cookies. Not to be missed is the “Square Meal”, perfect for those craving “meat and potatoes” type fare. We got to work on the Fried Catfish Sandwich, which starts out simply with a classic buttery biscuit before the fun really gets going – a thick slab of homemade corn butter is added to the biscuit just before it gets toasty in the oven. While that heats up, Sous Chef Dan Crothers shows us the buttermilk mixture that the catfish has been lounging in before it hits a spiced-up coating and gets dunked in the frialator. He also shows us the sandwiches shaved trilogy condiment; a classic mixture of celery, onions and pepper (in this case, jalapeno), that is then mixed simply with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Rounding out the sandwich, an ultra smoky and extra thick tomato mayo is drizzled over the catfish adding richness, and the sandwich is then served alongside some Old Bay spiced French Fries. Read the rest of this entry »