Past & Present

Home from the sea and the abundance of beauty on the Long Island Sound. Creating new venues for the fall/winter season, October 5 will be the first dinner of the season.

As many of you know, my previous career as a ballet dancer and one of the companies was Harkness Ballet Company.” An American Ballet Story” is being written about the Harkness Ballet and I am featured in the film.

The director of the company will be in New York to share my story” After The Ballet”. Leslie Streit will be attending the dinner October 5 and will see where my path has taken me post Harkness days.

Ballet instilled in me drive, determination and the pursuit of excellence that has made 10 Chairs a success.

So as I plan the menu as in a ballet there will be an adagio, allegro and a coda. Jete with me into October and we shall share a pas de dix.

I Search Of

“DACA”

We hear a lot about this word and what it means. Though I was born here I am a dreamer. I dreamed of moving to New York and becoming a ballet dancer and that came true. I dreamed of becoming a recognized chef and that came true. I dreamed of having my own restaurant and that is partially true. 10 Chairs NYC has led me in a new direction as my own boss and owner. So my dream has come true.

My May Mood

Sitting in my garden surrounded by sun and flowers. Rarely do I sit and reflect on my surroundings. May brings out the best in everything. The trees are flowing and last year’s plants are breaking through the soil and reaching towards the sun.

I look forward to the market and the bounty of the stalls brimming with green produce. I grew my first and only fiddlehead fern. The sight of the small green curly fern set the tone for the menu for the coming week. Rhubarb begins the meal pickled and paired with fennel, celery and cucumbers.

Ramps, young asparagus, basil, new potatoes all herbs that will be a part of the upcoming menu. Vegetables and flowers comprise the dishes not as an accompaniment but as the main ingredients. Young asparagus paired with house smoked salmon, home made crème fraiche and chives. The risotto showcases the spring peas with a pop and grassy overtones. Strawberries finish the meal with simplicity and sweetness. Join me, the herbs, and the flowers for an exciting and mouthwatering menu on May 11.

Rain Barrel Memories

When it rains I am back in Texas and outside our back door. A large wooden rain barrel. You can smell rain and when it came what I remember is the fresh mint in the yard, the pecan trees, the figs, okra and many other edible weeds that grew in our backyard.
My mother would make fig preserves for my toast in the morning and mint tea from leaves. These memories come flooding back when it rains. She would wash my hair with the water and we would be outside to pick pecans for pies, okra and other greens for dinner.

I never thought about being chef at that point but I came from a family of food lovers.

Aunts and uncles who fished, raised animals and had pot belly stoves with outdoor plumbing when I was in my teens.
We would drive long distances to find the best ingredients and the best places to pick dewberries. “Watch out for the snakes” my mother would call after she had dressed me in my uncles wading boots that were way too big but kept the snakes at bay.

Buckets of dewberries would be brought into the house for my Aunt Bobby’s famous dewberry cobbler. Bits and pieces of pork raised by my uncle would be tossed into a cast iron skillet with the greens. A hot skillet with bacon fat waiting for the cornbread and you could hear the sizzle as it hit the pan. The aroma in that small kitchen with the pot belly stove fueled only by wood stayed in your hair and clothes long after the simple meal finished.

Looking Forward While Looking Back

Summer always reminds me of being home in Texas. Visiting relatives on road trips that seemed to last forever. Whining “are we there yet”. Food memories conjured up by visiting family and sharing food. Each of my aunt’s and uncle’s had their own specialty. My Aunt Rose who I am named after would set the table with real china and silver every Sunday after mass. She grew peppers, lemons and pears in her yard. She was an avid canner (don’t know if that is a real word) but that was how she was described.

My family shared ingredients with each other. I remember my Uncle Abe bringing fresh shucked oyster, fish and shrimp from his fishing boat. A knock at the door” V”, I brought you some things. My mother’s nickname was” V” short for Virginia. She would put on the cast iron skillet with some bacon fat and dredge the oysters in cornmeal and serve them for breakfast on Saturday morning.

My Aunt Bobby lived a block away and she would walk over her freshly made cornbread with butter and cane syrup. I would put the softened butter on the plate and mix in the cane syrup and roll the cornbread around in my concoction. Syrup and butter dripping down my chin how wonderful it tasted. Each time I fry oysters I go back to those times in the kitchen with my mother by my side.

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