The Food World Harnesses the Power of Collaboration

By Daniel Gritzer Posted July 16, 2012

Chefs are finding strength in numbers by forming duos, trios and even bigger teams (like the restaurant run by a group of 18). Here’s how the food world is harnessing the power of collaboration.

Updated Crabmeat Salad

© Antonis Achilleos.

Chefs Rick Tramonto and John Folse teamed up to modernize classic Cajun and Creole dishes for their new Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans. Folse, an authority on Louisiana cooking, taught Tramonto authentic recipes like corn-and-crab soup; then Tramonto reimagined them. “John’s like an orchestra, and I’m Metallica coming in to play with him,” jokes Tramonto.

Crabmeat Salad: Because the crab has been strained out of the broth, Tramonto came up with a crab salad that diners stir into the soup.

Smooth Texture: “In the classic recipe, the broth would be full of onion, celery, garlic and crab,” says Folse. Tramonto strains out those ingredients.

Spice and Garnish: Tramonto replaces the usual cayenne with a bright chile oil and adds sliced truffles, popcorn and a dollop of corn-infused whipped cream.

At these innovative restaurants, the all-powerful chef has been replaced by more collaborative duos—or in one case, a team of 18.

Battersby; Brooklyn, NY: Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek cook complex, globally inspired food in a tiny kitchen by splitting up the duties. “Joe does pasta and baking. I do sauces, vegetables and garnishes,” says Stern.

Spur, Seattle: “We force ourselves to argue to develop better ideas,” says Brian McCracken, describing how he and Dana Tough perfect dishes like veal sweetbreads with stinging-nettle puree, smoked beets and lemon balm.

Travail Kitchen and Amusements; Robbinsdale, MN: A total dismantling of kitchen hierarchy near Minneapolis: All 18 staffers take turns creating dishes, working the line and waiting on tables. 4154 W. Broadway; 763-535-1131.

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