With the exception of one handsy, coked out investment banker and one chain-smoking cult leader, I’ve been very lucky with my clientele. The people I have cooked for over the years have been gracious, generous, and as excited about the places food can take you as I am.
It’s funny about private cheffing. It’s a bit like internet dating. Most people find me online, read my website/profile/menus, and then reach out to see if I’m worth that first “date”. I know that my sensibilities aren’t going to match perfectly with everyone’s. I’m confident enough in both my cooking and organizational skills to not take it personally when things don’t match up, which I can say, doesn’t happen very often.
There are, of course, taste profiles that you want to match. I’m confident that I could be a very proficient vegan chef, for example, but it’s not my personal preference. I would be misrepresenting myself if I said that was my specialty, especially when I know chefs who only do vegan food. There’s room for all of us because different people like different things. You’d never hire a mechanic to do your laundry, even though he might wash one hell of a shirt.
“Play your A game” is my motto.
I am incredibly lucky to currently cook for a couple who have almost exactly the same taste preferences as I do. It’s great because, when they’re out of town – as they are a lot this summer- I can experiment on food that I think they will love and satisfy myself in the process. Yes, this is true for most of my kitchen experiments, but these clients love sweet/ savory sauces on meats, which is more my thing than, say, Shannon’s, so I feel it’s a personal win.
This past weekend I was walking through the farmer’s market and realized it’s cherry time in New York. Oh oh oh, how I love fresh summer cherries. I could eat cherries for a living. I gleefully grabbed a bag that just happen to be sitting next to a stack of rhubarb. Hmmm, I thought. Rhubarb/ cherries. Could these two tastes play happily together without the ruse of a dessert?
Time to play.
I grabbed a few pork rib chops and some mint and scampered back to my lab as fast as my Converse All Stars would go. What a good day that turned out to be. This Cher-rhub sauce (cute, right?) would pair equally well with Pork Chops, Lamb Chops, or Duck.
Pork Chops with Minty Cher-rhub Sauce
- 6 cups water
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 whole star anise (not absolutely necessary, but something I like to do)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 cups ice
- 4 Pork Rib Chops, each about 1 ½ inches thick
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- Bring water to a boil and add salt, sugar, anise and peppercorns.
- Add ice to cool brine and then add chops.
- Place brined chops in fridge for 1-5 hours (the longer they sit, the better).
- Take chops out of brine and pat dry with paper towel. Rub chops with 1 tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper.
- Heat grill or sauté pan until very hot (I use a cast iron ridged grill pan which I do not oil before putting oiled meat in, but I would put oil in if I was using a sauté pan). Place chops in pan and sear for about 6 minutes each side. Serve with Cher-rhub Sauce.
Minty Cher-rhub Sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot, chopped
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups fresh cherries, seeded
- 2 cups rhubarb, cut into half inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup water (or more depending on how juicy you’d like your sauce to be)
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- Heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Add shallots with a pinch of salt and sauté for until shallot turns golden and soft.
- Add cherries, rhubarb and sugar, turn heat down to medium, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add balsamic and water and stir, cooking until rhubarb has become soft and juicy.
- Let cool and add mint.