Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another day at the Farm

As a chef, I always want to bring the farm to the table. But more often than not I make a phone call to my sources and the next day its at my back door. It comes from a local farm, but the connection is not there. Its another delivery that is taken for granted by the cooks, waitstaff, managers and chefs. Just another day at the office.

One of the luxuries we have here at Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro, is the hidden gem, Wards Berry Farm in Sharon MA.Run by Jim Ward (who handles the farm) and his brother who runs the farm store and sandwich shop. Only 3 miles from our back door, this farm has allowed us to make a connection with the land, the hard working people getting their hands dirty day in and day out, to grow the finest produce I have experienced in a long time. My chefs and I go there to have lunch almost on a daily basis, a great sandwich, loaf of bread, wedge of cheese, raw ear of corn and a peach from the tree and we eat right at the farm no forks, no knives, no fancy dining room.

Have you ever imagined what an ear of corn tastes like right off the stalk? Or a peach that fell from its tree because it was so ripe and juicy that its own weight broke it off the branch. Heirloom cherry tomatoes that are so distinct in flavor and freshness that I will never eat another grocery store tomato again.

If you remember the movie Willy Wonka, theres a line in the movie that says the "blueberries taste like blueberries" well every thing that Jim Ward grows tastes as it should.

We had the pleasure of taking our photographer, Matt Demers to the farm. Here are some photos I would like to share with you. This same produce will grace the plates at Tastings for as long as the season remains strong. A connection between the farm and the chef is an experience that is meant to be shared with those who wish to dive into a culinary journey of pure flavor and freshness, no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Look Inside

Every week Ive been posting pictures of the kitchen, the exterior of the restaurant and our sign. I'm sure by now everyone is wondering what this place is going to look like?
Lucky for you, I have a chef de cuisine that remembers to take pictures and bring his camera. Matt took these shots yesterday afternoon. It really feels like a restaurant is being built now. Everyday the place looks more and more real. Enjoy the first look at this restaurant, I will be posting one more round of pictures and then you will have to stop by to see the finished product!
Soon to come, we will actually be back in the kitchen, whites on, knives in hand and cooking. The posts will soon start to explore our menu. Its right around the corner...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


If you check out this link you can see some photos and read an article on watermelon that I contributed to. Pictures came out great! Jeff Loughlin of The Patriot Ledger and I along with my daughter Savanna had a great time preparing and shooting these pictures. Jody Feinberg did an excellent job at interpreting my recipes and thoughts on this wonderful fruit!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Menu

As we now move into finalizing the menu, I am starting to get anxious. I have been out of the kitchen for 3 months and counting, so busy that cooking at home is rare. As a cook, you begin to get anxious, nervous almost when those creative juices stop to flow due to lack of culinary engagement.

I read, and read, and read until Ive almost memorized certain books. I engage myself in thinking about pairings, visualizing and trying to taste it in my head. As I think about these things, its so frustrating to not be in whites, knife in hand and chopping, tasting, cooking, feeling the textures, trying to create the ultimate harmony of balance. Sweet, Sour, Salty, Sweet, Umami, Texture and color all of which right now are merely a vision in my head.

The menu at Tastings will focus on forward thinking, globally influenced small plates. We will incorporate modern techniques and presentations, into whenever possible locally sourced products and some of the finest products we can get our hands on from around the globe.

A sample of the opening Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro Menu

Progressive Ocean Tasting
60 degree scallop w/hazelnuts, oyster & chanterelle "cappuccino" w/porcini dust cured wild salmon tartare w/white peach & ginger sambal

Crisp Pork Belly “Cuban”
blueberry mustard, pickled green apple, melted leeks, womanchengo

Watermelon Flight
crème fraiche & salmon caviar, jalapeno & black sea salt, 3 year balsamic vinegar, feta & peppered bacon

Great Hill Blue Flatbread
fig and olive jam, rosemary

Milk & Honey
vanilla-honey soaked genoise cake, milk chocolate mousse

“Coffee & Doughnuts “
warm doughnut foam, espresso cake, cappuccino hazelnut crumble

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Update

As we approach our first official Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro "all-staff meeting" or as we all know it, orientation day, I am finally feeling like we are right around the corner. As you can see from the pictures, we have finally finished the kitchen build out, the challenge is trying to get the powers at be to let us start "stocking" the kitchen before the front of the house is complete. Will it happen? we have no idea. But what we do know is that the days are approaching, and there are not enough hours in the 24 hour cycle that we all know if as 1 day.
My team is starting to arrive from all corners of the United States.

Matt Maue, Chef De Cuisine, and my sushi chef from the good ole' Lotus days, who by the way has impressed me with his ability to compose unique innovative dishes day in and day out very rarely missing a beat, arrived from Buffalo, NY. we have had the pleasure of cleaning the kitchen together multiple times now, only to arrive the next day to find it just as dusty and dirty as we found it before we cleaned it!! Getting to know every nick and cranny our new kitchen has has really connected us to the space.

Dione Johnson arrived yesterday, our Sous chef from Atlanta, GA. was one of the first line cooks I hired when I was in the Virgin Islands. Her passion for the industry as a whole, not just food makes her an amazing addition to this kitchen, keeping all the cooks and myself in focused state of mind as well as being a strong culinary addition is truly a blessing.

3 other cooks whom I have shared line space with are arriving from the Virgin Islands in the next 2-3 weeks. The ability to have a peace of mind to know that my team is one that has worked together and worked together well, is such a luxury that it is really letting us take the menu to an another level that is usually not suited for the "opening menu".

Trusting my staff from day one to execute a complicated, fast paced, small plates menu is going to allow our cooks that are working with us for the first time to really be trained the way we want them to be. i look forward to leading an unstop able kitchen crew.

Bring On Opening day !!!!!