The Mind of a Chef (2012) s02e16 Episode Script

Restaurateur

This episode of The Mind of a Chef dives into the chaos of opening a new restaurant.
You need to get your bowls up there.
April Bloomfield travels to San Francisco a month before her new Italian restaurant Tosca is set to open Ken and I came here and we were like this is right.
Tests recipes and ingredients with chef Josh Even When it comes together, it's not going to be as hot, I think.
Oversees the construction of the new kitchen and dining room with her longtime partner Ken Friedman Well, that'll be a skylight.
Takes a breather at Tartine Bakery So good, so good.
And works out the jitters of opening night.
You left a hot mess, dude.
This is like game day.
Enter: The Mind of a Chef.
Sometimes it's the simplest stuff that really kind of blows your mind.
This is the best thing I think you'll ever eat.
You need to get your garlic browner.
Got it, okay.
A lot.
You don't have that warmth from the garlic.
You need that toastiness, you know, that's what you're going to eat this and that's what's going to make it really Moorish, complex.
Okay.
Joyce, you need to organize and make that look pretty, okay? Guys, all your cloths should be on your hips and they should be clean.
I'm opening a restaurant, Tosca.
San Francisco.
It's going to be my first restaurant outside of New York.
Home again.
You know, I'm nervous.
Every restaurant is like opening your first restaurant pretty much.
That's looking good.
Nice and clean over there.
Yeah.
Not everywhere.
This looks good, this is the kitchen.
I think the last time it was used was 1965.
Cool.
There's a lot of pressure.
The kitchen is intense when you're on an opening.
Everybody's like aiming for one goal and that goal is to make it successful, creative and a fun environment to work.
It's going to shrink.
Is that staying? This thing stays there? Yeah, that just got put in.
Oh! Yup, and that's the exhaust.
Oh it's there! Oh that'll be a skylight.
Yeah, that's the skylight.
Oh okay, so we'll get real light.
Yeah it's going to be nice that natural light.
Yeah, yeah, that'll be great.
Ken Friedman is my business partner.
We've been business partners for ten years.
We have a weird but wonderful relationship.
When we first walked in here, we had been here before, right? We had just had a drink here a long time ago.
It was a toss-up between finding something in London and then San Francisco.
We were like toying with the idea, but we'd found this first, right? Yeah.
So we decided to take this.
Tosca is such a great opportunity for us to like find a place that's already great.
Yeah, it's just people have a really good feeling about this place, you know, it's iconic.
And we kind of felt that when we first walked in we were like, "This place is amazing.
" Yeah.
We're the odd couple.
We both took a gamble on each other.
I came from a really great job and took a leap of faith and he left his job so we both kind of leapt together and it works.
When I opened the Pig, my first restaurant, there was pressure, but there's not as much pressure as there is now, probably because I just did it and it was amazing fun.
Ken lived opposite the old restaurant, Le Zoo, that was on the corner of West 11th and Greenwich Street.
You'd taken me to like some really dodgy places.
I took you to a place that used to be called M&R Bar, which I loved on Elizabeth Street, and April like quit her job and moved to America and okay! Let's see the place that I've given my life up for.
I brought her there and I was like "okay, here we go.
" Open the door and I mean talk about hearing a pin drop.
I was like and I didn't know her that well.
Something was caught in her throat or she doesn't like it.
But when he took me to the corner of West 11th and Greenwich Street, I walked in and I'm like, "This is it.
This is the Spotted Pig.
" Like it feels like you've just come home.
Yeah.
And so when we came here we did the same thing.
We were like, "This is right.
" Like this is a good thing.
We just got really good energy, you know, people have had a great time here.
We're both in agreeance that it didn't really need much, and that's the thing we do.
We don't really do much.
Like these leather banquettes aren't really leather.
You know, they're fake leather, so it kind of gets worn at the cracks and they like gaffer tape it together, so let's just get real leather and let it age.
It's kind of easy; it's just like let's find what's already here.
Like these chandeliers up here, I don't love them actually, but they've been here forever.
And now the more I live with them, I love them.
So, I just don't like those kind of light bulbs, you know.
Ken is basically a very energetic 12-year-old that's very creative and I mean that in a most endearing way.
But I'm more kind of level and I do things at a different pace.
And also, just things like these amazing murals, when you came in here, it was always really kind of dark.
We just thought, well, let's just have the room be lit by the light from the murals and of course the light from the kitchen.
And then light on the table, lighting people up.
People always look sexy when they're lit up by candles.
You know, makes people look hot.
So we kind of balance each other out.
That's good.
Cause he'd be opening 30 restaurants by now, and I'm a little bit more reserved.
You know, this is going to be nice to be out to get that heart beating again.
It's going to be very delicate.
I wanted it to be a bit more inviting.
'Cause you know people are not used to seeing a kitchen there.
Right.
So it's kind of we need to do it gently.
You know, it's going to be fun when it's finally done.
I mean, it was fun when we came here on trips.
We came a couple of times, felt our way around, you know, just to sit at that bar and it's such a huge bar, but it's so beautiful to have customers do that and hopefully get the same feeling that we got when we sat at the bar.
That's what's going to make it, you know? For people to have that experience.
Yeah, that's what it's all about, yeah.
Another great restaurant in San Francisco and another great Italian restaurant in North Beach.
Those are all positive things, you know.
Yeah.
I hope.
Touch wood.
This is going to be great, babe.
It's going to be great.
Josh Even, he's a great guy.
He walked through my door first day and he was just a great presence, you know? He's a breath of fresh air.
Every time I give Josh a challenge, he really does just excel.
He embraces whatever I'm asking for him to do.
So when I suggested that he might want to move to San Francisco, you know, he was ready.
He was ready for a change.
The hardest part of opening a restaurant is getting the foundations laid for creating a great menu that people want to eat.
The foundation is the ideas, and then once you have the menu ready, or in your mind at least somewhere ready, then you start recipe testing the core signature dishes that you think might be successful.
Me and Josh will have ideas, like a Sunday spaghetti and meatballs.
This I've worked on quite a bit so far.
We've gone through many iterations.
Lots.
I started just looking at very classic Italian grandma meatball recipes.
And then we'll taste.
And we'll just keep testing until we reach some point where we're like, this is it.
These are ready.
So what we have now is short rib and pork shoulder.
The buttermilk's going to add some tartness to cut through all that fat as well as the tomatoes in the sauce.
Josh's little toasted fennel seeds are going to add another nuance in there.
I like the fennel seed.
I'm not sure Chef does.
Well, I'm excited to see this version.
'Cause I'm sure it's going to be spot on.
Mussel soup.
This one's still in its early stages, but I want you to taste what I've got so far.
Cool.
And we should figure out how we're going to make it for the season that we're going to open in.
The recipe's very versatile, I feel like.
Doesn't need the pancetta, could be something else.
We start with a wide range of stuff and then we test and test and test.
We'll just start kind of crossing off.
Some things just don't make the cut.
We've got our sauce, which we've tested.
The meatball itself we're going to test.
We'll poach them.
I would sear them, but Joshy, he likes his poached, so that's good.
So when I stood in this empty Tosca space, and I saw a plancha this big and six burners this big, I thought, how are we going to sear off 800 meatballs a day? Sometimes your first version is great.
You don't have to really do much to it.
You know, you might just tweak it.
It just varies on what it is you're cooking, how you feel about it, where your ideas came from.
Love it.
It like hits something in your soul.
That's when you know it's right.
It's kind of like a light bulb goes off and everything on your palate is balanced, so you get these little hits of sweet, salty, the herbs in the right place and maybe you'll just taste like a hint of the margarine instead of like lots of margarine.
You know, you have this kind of connection.
I just love chopping herbs.
I love cooking.
Josh, can you turn that pan on so we can fry one of these little meatballs? Let's add a little bit of this, it needs to be a little bit like this, so we go back, put something funky in it.
Something that's going to fortify the meatball.
We tried a bit of liver, but it was too bouncy and we lost the texture, so let's try some guanciale, go back, test it, and you know it might take a long time to get these recipes down.
Mmm so good.
I like that crispy texture on the outside.
That means he's going to be frying them on that little plancha.
Sometimes when I suggest stuff, they'll just look at me and go you know? But they know it's right.
You know? They'll be, like, right decision.
It's the right thing to do, as we say.
It's the right thing to do.
Want to taste? It's so moist.
I love the buttermilk in them.
Yeah.
The spices are really good.
I could just eat that on a sandwich.
I'm excited for Chef to taste the soup.
She's got this palate where maybe I'm going too heavy on the garlic like with the meatballs, too much, and Chef figures that stuff out really well.
That's great.
I like the coriander in there.
It's nice.
Yeah.
I took some out because I was like, "Oh I'm over coriandering it, but I think it's going to be good.
" You know, you make the best soups, Joshy.
Oh, thank you, Chef.
I could just eat this like this already.
And I thought on the pickup we could add capers, you know, some of the roasted garlic in the pan.
I think when it comes together, it's not going to be as hot, I think.
It's good, I like the chili on there.
So these are just doing their thing.
What do you think? I'm thinking.
It's a little more jammy than I think I had envisioned.
I think it needs more mussel.
There's a lot of tomato.
I don't think you should make it less complex because I like that.
All the flavors right now I'm liking.
I just want that extra hit of mussel.
Yeah, you're right.
This is two and half pounds of mussels so I could jack it up to three.
I like it, though.
I mean, what do you think? To me it's really satiating.
I'm thinking about ways to change the season.
Maybe just fresh tomatoes.
Mm-hmm.
I like the warmth.
I think this is a dish for winter though, you know? Mmm.
When it gets a bit chilly outside.
Yeah.
So I think just try it again, you know? Yeah.
Ooh.
Joshy, cut that open.
Oh, yeah.
That's it.
Yeah, I'm pretty pleased.
This is such a good feeling.
It is, isn't it? It's like phew! Yeah, it's really good.
These are RTG, babe.
Yes! One down.
We're going to sell so many meatballs.
I love that extra guanciale we just put in at the last minute.
Yes! That was terrible.
Let's do it again.
He's a great cook.
He's definitely got the palate, which is cool.
Whenever I get inspired, I get a little fidgety and a little excited, and when I ate these morning buns at Tartine, they just kind of made me stop in my tracks a little bit.
Just doesn't get boring, does it, you know? Not really, no.
To be inspired and actually get to see Chad working.
He is a master at what he does, and has taken the time and the energy to perfect that thing.
I mean, it's humbling.
He makes it look so easy.
I'm just in awe.
And it makes you feel like you need to get better and better and better.
Much better than doing it by hand, I got to say.
When I was watching him put that butter on the pastry, I was like, if that was me, I'd probably be like But that's what you get by practicing.
It's that kind of connection you have when you eat something amazing.
When you see somebody cook in a most beautiful way.
Nice move.
I like that move.
Is that just to help the sugar stick? Exactly.
When they're baking it forms, you know, like a caramel.
Mmm That's the best bit, isn't it? Yeah, to me it really makes it.
Oh, so good.
There's something about cooking with your hands, about touching food and being tactile.
I'm kind of nervous making morning buns with you.
They look perfect.
To see that Chad is so passionate and is making it in a way that's elegant and beautiful.
It gets you.
I was like wow.
I need to work harder.
So when I first had the morning buns at Tartine, I could taste this orange and it made me instantly think of rosemary.
I kind of had this light bulb go off.
It was kind of like, ding.
And it made me just kind of want to try a savory one.
As it evolved it turned into provolone.
Nice and sharp, a bit funky.
And broccoli rabe, some of these nice cured Calabrian chilies.
Little bit of garlic and some olive oil.
This is a medium aged provolone.
Tosca hasn't served food since 1965 so I want to do breakfast, even if it's just something simple like a little boiled egg on the bar.
Some morning buns, get some good coffee.
So that's my plan.
It looks great.
I'm going to put in my Calabrian chilies.
They're all nice and juicy, full of seeds.
Make them nice and spicy.
Broccoli rabe.
This is great because it's quite herby and earthy.
So I'm just going to pulse it.
And then I'm going to add some oil.
This is a nice spicy oil too.
You don't want too much oil because you got a lot of fat in there, you know, a lot of butter from the layering.
So this is just to bring it together into what are you smiling at? And I'm just like pouring a ton in.
That's hilarious.
This looks great.
Want to take a look? It's kind of a nice paste.
Sometimes you get like a chunky chili.
I quite like those.
Like a nice hit in one bite.
So I'm just going to roll this out a little bit thinner because it's too thick.
This is just a straight croissant dough that's got no sugar in it.
But it has copious amounts of butter.
That's what makes it so delicious and it makes all the layers.
I think this looks good.
This is the fun part.
Salt.
I like this too because it's so simple because the rabe.
It's not cooked.
Basically you're making a pesto, you know? Sometimes when you open a restaurant, you come up with a menu, you'll get in the kitchen, work on it, you'll be like that's not going to work.
So in your head, it might change by the time you open.
You know pretty fast.
Yeah, feels good.
That's kind of cool, right? You can smell those chilies, which is amazing.
Nice coffee in the morning or broccoli rabe morning bun.
Smells good.
There you go.
So we're going to proof those for about 25 minutes.
And then we'll throw them in the oven.
That's it.
Okay, so they're ready.
They smell really good.
You really smell the rabe, you know, it's quite minerally.
If you saw these on a bar, wouldn't you want to just go buy one? Look at this one here.
I like how it goes a bit crispy and the cheese gets a little crunchy.
They kind of make you giggle a little bit, you know? It's opening night.
I've been busy in the kitchen all day just testing and tweaking and then stocking up on food.
We've had failures; we've had successes.
This is the end result of that hard work.
Hot, hot, please, hot.
Got to make sure everything's clean, please.
When you open a restaurant, it's scary because you're putting yourself out there, you know, as someone that's creative or passionate.
You're putting yourself on the line.
So having people come in and critique it, that's kind of scary.
I told you once before, you can't use these.
They've got no essential oils.
Don't be lazy.
This is crunch time.
This is like game day.
You understand what I'm saying right now? So that's why you have to practice to make it the most amazing restaurant you hope it would be.
Your plancha still needs cleaning.
Katie, you can't turn this until you get a good crust, okay? It's like flipping a pancake too early, okay? You got to get crust one side, then flip it, okay? When your kitchen's built or your restaurant's done, it feels very a part of you.
You know, the pressure just builds.
It doesn't get easier.
So this is when it starts getting a bit real.
You start hearing the noise from the dining room.
Fired on entrees table 22.
There's nothing going to make you more familiarized than being in it and being thrown in.
And then the next day you tweak whatever you feel like you need to tweak.
You kind of evolve.
Can't forget the lemon, okay? I was ten years younger when I opened the Pig.
Five restaurants in, it still is thrilling.
But there's a lot more riding on this.
Let's go, let's go, let's go.
Now is the time, time to go.
And I do like to be behind the line when we first open.
I can jump in, and I can help teach.
It's a lot better, right? It's like umami, warm, yeah.
It needs a little More into it other than kind of separated.
Yeah.
Yeah, it needs a little more chili, though.
They need to know what kind of palate I have.
It's kind of like you're handing down this experience for them to absorb and to go on to be the best chefs that they can be.
New order: bar snacks.
Artichoke followed by market greens, blue salad, followed by chicken, trout, gemelli, cauliflower and a short rib.
Yeah! It's fun.
It's fun to see a restaurant grow.
You know, this is the first step.
It's important to keep that life going, to keep the heart beating.
You know, the heart of the restaurant is the kitchen.
The work doesn't stop as soon as you're open.
You can't just give up.
You have to be there.
And you have to work out the kinks and you have to learn and you have to progress.
It's a living, breathing thing, and I love that.
I love seeing everything just grow.
That's all I wanted to do.
I wanted to be great at something.
I wanted to do something really well.
Just have that integrity.
You know, I really wanted to keep striving to be better and better every day.
Wooo! I still have much more to do.
Cheers! Cheers!