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To toast Broadway's Fully Committed, Food & Wine hosted a party featuring food from the star's own blog.
In the one-man show Fully Committed, which you can see on Broadway through July 24, Jesse stars as a reservationist at a hot New York restaurant—and goes on to play an additional 39 characters, from kookie-needy VIP guests to an obnoxious, entitled chef. We already knew Jesse did extensive restaurant research for his roles, from visiting Michelin-star establishments to cancelling reservations at the last minute to study reactions. But Jesse also channels his passion for food into a recipe blog that he runs with chef and recipe developer Julie Tanous.
We grabbed Jesse away from the party for a few minutes last night so he could tell us all about how Julie & Jesse’s Recipes was born and where he gets his recipe inspiration.
How did you and Julie meet and decide to start a food blog?
We met at an event called the Spring Street Social Society that a friend of mine runs. I think neither one of us really wanted to go because we were so exhausted, so she sat at the end of the table and I sat across the table from her. We just struck up conversation and I fell in love with her immediately. When I found out that she used work in a test kitchen and she put herself through culinary school, I immediately glommed on to her. I really love her spirit. We became best friends and started cooking together, so that was the impetus for the blog. We were having such a great time working together and cooking together that we wanted to share some of our ideas and the joy in our kitchen with my fans.
Where do you get your recipe inspiration?
I work from a lot of cookbooks, so I get inspiration from other food lovers and then I like to tweak recipes to make them my own. I also recently bought The Flavor Bible, and I am fascinated with flavor profiles and trying to figure out what goes together. I am a novice. I’m new to this and that’s why I love working with Julie. She’s more schooled than I am in the kitchen. I come from a very passionate place and she comes from a passionate place with a lot skill, so it’s a fun partnership.
Where do you shop for your ingredients and which restaurants have inspired you?
I love the farmers market in Union Square. I also love Eataly. They’ll have beautiful fiddlehead ferns and other rare produce that’s fun to work with. I am always looking for new restaurants. I just found a fast food Indian place called Inday that I really love. Inday made me want to try to figure out how to do some sort of an Indian bowl on my blog because I love Indian flavors. I don’t just draw inspiration from high-end restaurants—I find it everywhere.
Do you see your play and blog as completely separate projects, or has your experience from one enhanced the other?
It was just sort of a happy coincidence that I started this food blog while I was putting out a show about working at a restaurant. So that was just sort of kismet. My love of cuisine and my knowledge of the food and wine industry definitely has helped me create some of the characters in Fully Committed, but beyond that I sort of compartmentalized them. It feels organic that I happened to be doing a play about food, which is something I love so much.