Discovery and anticipation have been the basis of my culinary journey. From apprenticeship, following mentors, discovering my innate perception of taste, to entering the public arena of restaurants, the journey has been immensely rewarding. After many years, I realized food was a language, a form of expression which transcends external perception and enables us to engage meaningfully with just about anyone. After selling the restaurant, I experienced life outside of a fully stocked kitchen for the first time in almost 20 years. Sure, there was time spent away from the restaurant kitchen, but it was always there in the background. During the last 4 years of restaurant life, we lived in a historic restoration project, a 1924 Tudor home. For a full year and a half we did not have a proper kitchen during renovation. Of course, it was not so bad because of the restaurant kitchen. Since then we have done a number of projects and, in each one, we have had to live without a kitchen inside and outside of the house.
Finding quality food in restaurants and grocery stores is often difficult as the food is most often geared toward taste and presentation, not toward sustenance or vitality. This trend is changing slightly as large companies recognize the profit to be made with health directed marketing. With profit as the motive, good health and high quality are only used to market the food and shortcuts are present in most products. We are fortunate to still have some small producers who maintain traditions of quality and who produce food using standards which pre-date the industrialization of the food industry. We operated our restaurant, the Inn Season Cafe, this way (and it still operates this way through the current proprietor, my good friend and culinary associate Thomas Lasher).
Restoring life to a home is similar to preparing a traditional meal. First, there is a period of discovery, where we get to know the personality of the house. This includes the way it is designed and built along with who lived there and how they cared for the home. With traditional cuisine, one must learn the cultural attitude of the cooks and the reason for each dish, as food was the primary souce of preventative medicine before the age of drug related medicine.
Second, we often see when home prepared food is not readily available, most people throw caution to the wind and depend on commercially prepared (often fast food) products to nourish themselves. So, during renovation and construction, the body goes through deprivation and de-construction. When restaurants such as Inn Season Cafe are not readily available it is a real challenge to have good food without the facility of a kitchen. This a challenge I relish and have enjoyed.
As a chef, everyday we had to adjust to unpredictable circumstances in food, labor and facility. While under construction, things like parchment paper, a blow torch and disposables come in handy. In the latest project, we were able to connect a drawer fridge and a convection/microwave oven. The convection oven allowed me to roast, bake and reheat. The refrigerator space was limited, so shopping was combined with runs to the lumber yard, a reminder of time spent in India and Greece whereÂ procuring food was a daily event.
Recipes included here are from this time of easy and quick meals prepared to nourish in between skim coating walls, stripping paint and finishing wood surfaces. These recipes are not refined and the instructions may be inadequate, therefore we invite comments to correct any inconsistencies. Enjoy!