Food & Wine releases list of Best New Chefs for 2015
We got to speak with one of this year's recipients, Bryce Shuman, Executive Chef of Betony in New York City. He told us the professional advice that's stood out in his career, the kitchen item he thinks could improve your life and he shared one of his favorite springtime recipes. Check out our interview with Bryce below, and for the full list of this year's honorees, head to Food & Wine!
Q: What does it mean to you to be named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2015?
A: What an honor. It's something I've dreamed of since I first decided to be a professional chef.
Q: Which chefs or culinary icons have inspired you throughout your career?
A: Stuart Brioza (State Bird Provisions) and Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park); but I've also been immensely inspired by the chefs I've worked with over the years. People like James Kent (The NoMad), Abram Bissell (The Modern), Chris Flint (Eleven Madison Park), Angela Pinkerton (Craftsman and Wolves) and Brett Cooper (Aster).
Q: Is there any advice you've received professionally that stands out to you?
A: Chef Humm stressed the importance of constantly tasting your food and I think it's indisputably great advice for both professional chefs and home cooks.
Q: What's a common misconception about working as a chef in a restaurant?
A: I think the hospitality industry could do a better job communicating what it costs to run a fine dining restaurant. The cost of high-quality, well-sourced ingredients to make complex, laborious food that takes a large staff days to make is prohibitively expensive; to say nothing of putting together a crack front of house staff. Contradictory as it may seem, if you're interested in a bang for your restaurant buck, fine dining offers some of the most incredible deals as the profit margins are quite small.
Q: How do you come up with ways to innovate classic comfort foods (like your roast chicken with buttermilk caramel at Betony), and what tips do you have for home cooks who get bored with their weekly meal routines?
A: For elevating comfort food, I tend to think of what truly makes it so great to begin with; what components make it really special. I then try to picture how I could serve that classic dish in sort of a modern or inspired way. Think of the essential flavor, and then build something on it.
To switch up your routine, go to the grocery store or farmer's market and pick out ingredients that inspire you, look beautiful, and maybe that you're not familiar with. Then look up a recipes for those ingredients and give it a shot. Don't be afraid to fail. Before you know it, you will have expanded your culinary toolbox.
Q: Some trends come and go, but are there any currently that you think home cooks should pay particular attention to?
A: I think there is a real move in fine dining towards simplicity and using just one or two really great ingredients, or one or two excellent techniques, and I think that that is perfect for a home cook to focus on. Sometimes as a chef, we get caught up trying to do too much and trying to show off every single technique or lots of ingredients on one plate. And in the end if you just have two great ingredients that taste well together, and prepare them well, you're going to have a nice dish.
Q: What are your favorite spring produce items that you recommend home cooks use?
A: My favorite spring produce items that I cook with tend to be, besides asparagus and artichokes, ramps and young spring garlic. Just the smell of them reminds me that the season is about to change.
Q: Do you have any favorite spring recipes?
A: Pickled Ramps and Aleppo Yogurt Sauce
Q: What are some must-have kitchen items at home?
A: At the restaurant, we do a lot of sous vide cooking. There are now a lot of home sous vide units that are available out there in the market that are relatively inexpensive. While not essential, I think that having that opportunity to cook sous vide in your home could really improve your cooking. It's something that is far more accessible and inexpensive for home cooks than you might think.