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#1 Jason Perlow

Jason Perlow
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 13,501 posts
  • Location:FL

Posted 15 February 2004 - 12:58 PM

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http://www.restauranthearth.com

One belief that has defined Marco Canora’s career as a restaurant chef is that cooking should not be treated as a fussy art form with scores of flavors competing for the diner’s attention. Instead, he prefers to create dishes that allow people to appreciate each pristine ingredient. And it is this approach to cooking that has won him accolades at his latest venture, Hearth.

Three weeks after Hearth’s opening, New York Magazine’s Hal Rubinstein wrote that the “fare Canora put before me consisted of subtly balanced dishes,, softly seasoned and highly defined in their simplicity.” A few weeks later in a Diner’s Journal for The New York Times, William Grimes declared that “The flavors here [at Hearth] are potent and the presentations simple.” He went on to extol the virtues of Canora’s rabbit ballottine, game-bird terrine, roast chicken, veal breast, and braised lamb. Writing in one egullet’s on-line forums, Steven A. Shaw, founder of FatGuy.com, wrote, “Marco Canora's training and influences are on display at Hearth, as are [Canora’s partner] Paul Grieco's, but Hearth is much more than the sum of Marco and Paul's backgrounds. They've created a very special restaurant, one of the best to open in New York recently.”

Prior to opening Hearth, Canora was the Executive Chef at Craft Restaurant, which was awarded three stars from The New York Times during his watch. In a glowing review, William Grimes called Craft “a vision of food heaven, a land of strong, pure flavors and back-to-basics cooking techniques.” In the wake of such praise, Craft won the 2002 James Beard Best New Restaurant Award and USA Today proclaimed that “Chef Marco Canora’s food has won near universal praise.” Soon the international press began taking notice and Cuisine magazine of Australia hailed Craft as "the most serious and important new restaurant to open its doors in Manhattan in more than a decade." Even internet pundits started to speculate about what made Craft so unique. "Informing Colicchio [The chef/owner] and Canora [the chef]'s approach at Craft," wrote Steven A. Shaw "is an intellectually rigorous understanding of food and flavor that is the secret ingredient in every dish."

Although Canora's involvement in Craft represented a big step forward in his culinary career, his talents in the kitchen were already getting him noticed in the mid-1990’s. As the Executive Chef of La Cucina, a 60-seat restaurant on Martha's Vineyard, Canora was something of a local celebrity cooking for then-President Bill Clinton and his friends, and producing what was widely known as the best food on the island. For six summers while also working as a chef in Manhattan, Canora kept La Cucina up and running.

A little over a year after Craft opened its doors, Colicchio gave Canora full rein in designing the menu and opening Craftbar, Craft's more casual sibling. At Craftbar Canora translated many of his Tuscan family’s recipes into contemporary classics. And the results were again positive with Jonathan Reynolds of The New York Times Magazine noting that "Canora's clever adaptation of vitello tonnato to sandwich status brings a pleasing summer casualness to a classic" and Maura Egan writing for the same publication calling "the duck-ham-taleggio-cheese-and-mushroom panini at Craftbar the culinary world's unsung hero."

Canora learned to approach cooking with both passion and resourcefulness by observing and working alongside his mother and aunt, both of whom immigrated to the United States from Lucca, Italy. It was in their kitchens that he began to pay close attention to the use of seasonal ingredients and how vegetables and herbs from his aunt’s garden could be translated into a wide variety of dishes. Years later, when he was a sous chef at Gramercy Tavern, Canora decided to learn more about the roots of his family's cuisine and traveled to Florence, Italy, where he apprenticed at Fabbio Picchi's celebrated restaurant Cibreo.

With fifteen years of cooking and management experience under his belt, Canora’s dream of owning a restaurant in downtown Manhattan is now being realized at Hearth, where he is finally getting the opportunity to cook the way he has always wanted: with minimal fuss and plenty of finesse.


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About Hearth

Building upon his apprenticeship in Florence and in some of New York's finest eateries, Marco Canora's menu features classical dishes that have been given a contemporary spin. Whether exotic or familiar, the ingredients are allowed to speak for themselves in an uncontrived manner.

The menu changes approximately 4 times a year, to correspond to the seasons. The dishes are composed and some involve variations on a single ingredient.

Another common thread at Hearth is the use of true Italian cooking techniques (predominantly soffrito, a classic Italian flavoring-base of slow-cooked vegetables and olive oil), which are often sacrificed in modern restaurants in favor of easy fixes and culinary shortcuts. There are also homemade pastas and risottos available, as well as some classic Italian combinations: lamb shoulder with borlotti beans and escarole and roasted cod with baccala mantecato.
Jason Perlow
Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters
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