“Farm Week” is a collection of daily posts recapping a summer of Farm Dinners…
“Why travel the world when you could shop here?” This is the question on a local store’s sidewalk signage. Though I appreciate cultural exposure in any doseage, ultimately this cheeky question frustrates me. These marked-up tokens from far off places should merely be teasers. They should not suppress the appetite for the true experience. One should still travel the world in order to understand it more. Furthermore, if we have seen these places, we owe it to others to encourage them to step beyond their boundaries as well.
Similarly, food can serve as a token of a distant place, but this shouldn’t prevent a journey to experience the traditional version. Chef Justin Severino’s farm dinner series taps into this idea. Having already raised the bar for Pittsburgh diners through his restaurant Cure, he sought to expand diners’ ambitions by sharing his kitchen [and grill] with guest chefs from a few of the nation’s best restaurants. At the same time, these guests keep him inspired and challenge his ideas.
These guest chefs not only provided a unique, local dining experience, but they become targets on our travel lists. We have been inspired to see what the guest chef would do in his own kitchen, with the offerings of his region. The difference between the farm dinners and that local store’s signage is the idea of exposure and inspiration.
First on the farm series, guest lineup was Chef Charlie Parker, who worked with Severino at Manresa under David Kinch. Parker has cooked (and butchered) his way through other impressive kitchens such as Ubuntu (Napa), Rene Redzepi’s Noma (Copenhagen), Bonny Doon’s Vineyard Cellar Door Cafe (Santa Cruz), Daniel Patterson’s Plum (Oakland), The Counter (Santa Monica), and he recently found a home at Freddy Smalls (Los Angeles).
Some of these peppers were hot; some were not, so each bite was a bit of a gamble.
Suet Roasted New Onions
Alaskan King Salmon
Smoked Chicken & Potatoes
If diners were hesitant about eating head, heart and tongue tacos, Parker had no sympathy. “It’s time to grow up,” he told Severino’s resistant nephew. If “growing up” weren’t motivation enough, there was always beer, but why fear these more traditional taco cuts when prepared by the pros? Take two!
The rosé roars dulled, the desserts cleared, the chairs emptied and the events died down, leaving us sun-kissed and content with a taste for a new target on our horizons.
Bread & Cheese & Peach Soup
Stay tuned for more of Farm Week!