Chef and Tell, part two: Euclid Hall's Jorel Pierce on body parts and being a trigger-puller
This is part two of Lori Midson's interview with Jorel Pierce, executive chef of Euclid Hall. Part one of that interview ran in this space yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: Blue Ribbon in Manhattan is just what it is -- and that's why I love it. It serves great food, it's busier than hell, open late, and the raw bar is like something from a dream. Twelve oysters means more like fifteen, and while I'm no arithmetic major, it seems that the error is in favor of the guest.
Best food city in America: My wife Lindsey and I tore up San Francisco and Napa Valley on our honeymoon and fell in love over and over again with the scenery, menus and concepts. The food was great -- and often better -- at every turn.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Enjoy what you do; take what you do seriously; consider the concept of food rather than the list of components; and no back-of-house and front-of-house segregation. This is one house, striving toward one goal. My biggest pet peeve is finding shell bits in the oysters; it just kills me. I'm also a stickler for streak-free stainless steel, and I hate beat-up herbs.
Favorite music to cook by: It depends on the pace. I love cooking to reggae when it's crazy, jazz when it's especially artsy, and Flaming Lips when we go banquet- or event-style.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? A good, sharp palate. Unlike anything else I've been given, my tongue has never let me down.
If you could put any dish on your menu, even though it might not sell, what would it be? Quite honestly, I want to put everything on my menu that I can possibly imagine. For me, the weirder it is, the better, and while it wouldn't be financially wise to serve caviar at any reasonable price, I'd love to anyway -- as a gesture to the guest.
One book that every chef should read: Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi. I love the way this book teaches lessons on eating and digestion. It also really teaches people about food as a function of life. I love that approach.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network, and what would it be about? Body Parts. It would be a show about cutting, grinding, cooking, larding, barding and trussing and always thinking about appropriate techniques and applications for the different parts of edible fauna. I want to teach people why you cook things the way you do, starting with a firm understanding of what it is that you're actually cooking.