Lessons from Bruce Aidells
For a few months, I talked regularly with meat master and cookbook author Bruce Aidells for the November story about his incredible Sonoma kitchen. Because Bruce likes to chat, I set aside an extra half hour each time I called with a question. I never minded though, because we always talked about my favorite thing: Cooking huge meals in a seriously dreamy kitchen. Here are a few extra tidbits I learned about Bruce and his house that didn’t make it into the story:
- He took the dimensions of his custom-built hearth in his kitchen from Chez Panisse.
- Hunters bring game meat, like wild boar, venison and quail, to Bruce to cook, and someday soon, he hopes to start a sort of unofficial chefs’ camp to teach them how to cure meat. He has a crumbling building on his property with a perfectly intact cellar where he plans to store the meat. When I asked Bruce if he planned to take up hunting, he said, "No, I’m more of a dead animal guy.”
- Bruce is working on a consulting job with a bison producer, learning to cook the underutilized cuts that so often end up getting ground. If bison tails become the next hot cut, it might be thanks to Bruce.
- He has a collection of gorgeous copper pots, but when I asked him about the best kind of roasting pan, he admitted using old cheap aluminum ones that someone might use for a sheet cake.
- He is a real geek about Arts & Crafts design and architecture—the style of his grand house. His obsession started innocently by buying a few pieces of British Arts & Crafts furniture at an antique shop. Soon he was delving into books, visiting historic houses and collecting furniture relentlessly until he could afford to build his own dream house.