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The idea of farm-to-table cuisine isn’t something novel, but it may seem like an anomaly for the world’s largest concrete jungle: New York, a city in which the only thing you’re usually picking is gum off your shoes or a coveted empty seat on the subway.
For Chef Theo Friedman of Theory Kitchen, the ability to pick a seasonal fruit, vegetable, or herb takes precedence in all of his cooking. In fact, the struggle to find fresh ingredients is not only a welcomed (and mandatory) daily ritual, but a source of culinary innovation.
“Going through the market is a very stressful experience, but I love stress,” he says. “When I’m there, I’m on a mission to be as efficient as possible and get what I need for the day. At the same time, going there is also the source of inspiration for a lot of things.”
Flavor is Friedman’s top priority, which means other important takeaways like sustainability, appearance, smell, and texture seem to fall effortlessly into place. But the concept of “farm-to-table” is not one that defines him. Instead, it’s to be expected.
“I’m never going to serve a peach or tomato in December,” says Friedman. “It just wouldn’t taste good. And peaches and tomatoes in December are not from around here.”
While the option to tailor a menu around local offerings may be attributed to his flexible pop-up environment, Friedman is a firm believer that a commitment to quality and the ability to adapt should be the norm in any type of kitchen.
“I want the food to speak for itself,” he says, further accrediting a memorable dining experiences to simple, flavorful dishes without all the unnecessary bells and whistles. “[Let] nature do the work.”
Stay tuned for more chef stories as part of Stella Artois’ Cuisine d’Auteur series that highlights the process of conceptualizing, creating, and elevating food to the level of art.