Ridgewood’s Porcelain Launches New Dinner Menu

New Dinner Dishes at Ridgewood’s Porcelain.
Photo: Liz Clayman

Like so many cooks and bakers who found themselves out of work last year, Chef Kate Telfeyan launched an Instagram pop-up, which she called Vaguely Asian Foods, after finding herself out of work as a result of the closure of the restaurant in March. She had been chef at Mission Chinese Food’s Bushwick site until then; afterwards, she says she was let go without communication, and she was surprised to learn, several months later, that the restaurant had reopened. At first, she cooked in her Ridgewood apartment, delivering food to people on her bike. Then, at the end of October, Telfeyan found a professional home at a nearby café, Porcelain, which hosted its pop-ups on Saturdays. “It was probably the only place I’ve been to with any regularity during the really intense lockdown period,” Telfeyan said. During the winter, she cooked dishes like sujebi veal shank with hand-torn noodles and crispy shrimp rolls with rice paper.

However, her cuisine, she points out, was a bit incongruous with the original Austrian theme of coffee, and so in early April, after conversations with owner Mike Stamatelos, her occasional presence at Porcelain became permanent, starting with through brunch, lunch and sausage rolls. .

This month, Telfeyan started serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday, offering a succinct menu that draws ideas and flavors from Korean, Szechuan and Taiwanese cuisines. In addition to a few snacks, available from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Telfeyan’s menu consists of six courses, with no official distribution of dishes. “I am not in the distinctions of entry or aperitif”, says the chef.

The whole fish.
Photo: Liz Clayman

That said, three of the dishes are more substantial, including the Steamed Whole Fish ($ 38), which is inspired by the Szechuan dish suan cai yu. “In some ways, definitely borrowing a little inspiration from that. There are Sichuan peppercorns. We make pickled mustard greens here, ”she says. “Heavy on the vinegar, but also very tasty. And then obviously a little tingling of Sichuan. I really liked this flavor profile and I especially like it with fish.

The nori-fried pork chop.
Photo: Liz Clayman

The idea for the nori-fried pork chop ($ 17), on the other hand, comes from two places: Taiwanese-style pork chop, which you can find in New York at places like Taiwan Pork Chop House in Chinatown, and eat kebabs at Uzbek restaurants like Taste of Samarkand. “When you eat this meat and it’s fatty and tasty, there’s so much aroma going on, raw onion to me is such a beautiful leaf for that,” she adds. The pork is dredged in a dry paste and, along with the white onion, it is accompanied by long pepper, more pickled mustard greens, and fried Thai basil.

Black pepper shrimps.
Photo: Liz Clayman

Another more substantial dish is the Black Pepper Shrimp ($ 18), which comes with rice cakes (an ingredient Telfeyan often turns to), celtuce, cucumber, and salted pepper. “I joke a lot that I am going through my black pepper phase. I went through a huge white pepper phase and it never really went away, but I am re-exploring and rediscovering the bounty of black pepper, ”she says. “And I really liked the idea of ​​making a spicy dish that doesn’t depend on chili.”

There’s the Hot Pepper, something she learned to do while doing restaurant PR for Zak Pelaccio and Fatty Crew Hospitality Group. The peppers are salted and fermented before drowning in hot oil.

Chicken wontons with herbs.
Photo: Liz Clayman

The remaining dishes are lighter: there’s wontons ($ 13), which were previously wrapped soon and now come with a herbed chicken and mugwort filling that she gets from a New York farm, Choy Division, specializing in Asian vegetables. They are served on sesame-yuzu chimichurri; components will change regularly.

Green vegetables!
Photo: Liz Clayman

Choy Division vegetables are used for a seasonal stir-fry ($ 12) made with mint and a vinaigrette made with umeboshi paste and lots of shallots.

A few potatoes.
Photo: Liz Clayman

For a little more starch, Telfeyan also makes sweet and sour potatoes ($ 8) with cilantro and a mouthwatering sauce, a chili sauce used to dress poached and chilled chicken.

As with many cooks and other catering industry workers who have reconsidered their place in the industry – the unsustainable demands of jobs and unhealthy and often toxic work environments – Telfeyan says his absence from professional kitchens has put his feelings in evidence. (Last summer, she wrote about the restaurant, the media, and the rise of toxic celebrity chefs.) Like many former Mission Chinese employees, Telfeyan says her experience has taught her what not To do.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think and think, and as you know, I stuck my toe into the talk about chefs and the media and all that, and the culture that surrounds this industry,” she says. . “But I never thought of leaving the industry completely. I felt like it was too much of my passion, and leaving didn’t seem like the right decision. If I felt so much that this should change, then I should be part of the change.

Concretely, this change means setting a standard at Porcelain where no one gets paid less than $ 20 an hour, because, as Telfeyan says, the minimum wage of $ 15 is just a step in the right direction. It is also, more broadly, trying to create a different cooking culture. Her staff, one full-time and four part-time cook, all worked with her at Mission. (A former colleague there, who worked from home, described her as “friendly, calm, empathetic, and respectful under difficult circumstances”; a cook calls her a mentor.) When you work for someone else. , Telfeyan notes, you only have limited control to make a difference. At Porcelain, she has been given a clean slate and she can take the lead: “Coming in as an owner and also building the program from scratch really gave me this freedom to imagine what this world could be like. “

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