Round two with Thomas Salamunovich, exec chef of Larkspur and Larkburger
Part one of my interview with Thomas Salamunovich, exec chef of Larkspur and Larkburger, ran yesterday; this is part two of our chat.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Respect each other, have a sense of humor, and follow our "golden rules," a very long document that we've added to -- and edited -- countless times over the past thirteen years at Larkspur that explains exactly how we expect people to work in our kitchen: everything from the way their apron is tied, to how their knives are put on the station, to seasoning techniques and food-storage systems.
What's never in your kitchen? White pepper. I can't stand the taste or smell.
What's always in your kitchen? Tasting spoons are everywhere. If you're not constantly tasting and questioning what you're tasting, then the food will be inferior. Building a well-trained palate is critical to the process of food development, so you've got to have spoons everywhere and constantly, constantly taste. I never use the same spoon twice, though; it goes back to the dish machine after one use.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: My spouse, Nancy, and I were on our honeymoon, having dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and we made a goal to move to France within three years so I could stage at some of the greatest restaurants in the world and she could do the same in contemporary art galleries. We moved to France exactly three years to the day after we made that commitment. The dinner was wonderful, with multiple courses, and I purchased my first Cuban cigar after cognac, and then we walked along the Seine. I've had more significant culinary meals over the years, but this dinner was an important moment in our lives that still gives us wonderful memories.
Favorite restaurant in America: Balthazar in New York City. I've had so many great meals there with friends and family, including my kids. I remember landing in New York and walking in at 1 a.m. and leaving at 3 a.m. It was an incredible meal, with huge fruits de mer platters and steak pomme frites -- and then we came back the next morning for breakfast. Everyone was exhausted but filled with a lasting impression of comfort. I've had breakfasts, lunches, early dinners and late-night meals at Balthazar, and it's always consistent (the key to any great restaurant), and it makes me feel like I'm in Paris. It's just a great place to break bread.