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Tom Valenti

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  1. Tom Valenti

    Q: Paris v New York

    Apples and oranges. The product, the price of real estate, etc. The real advantage that the French in particular have is that they have a lot of government sponsored apprentices, so consequently the level and sophistication of cooking is aided by that fact -- when I was at Guy Savoy we would do 55 dinners a night with 14 cooks in the kitchen, many of them not paid by the restaurant. At Ouest we do on an average of 300 dinners a night with 8 people in the kitchen. Doing the math you can easily understand.
  2. Tom Valenti

    Q: Tips for make-ahead dishes

    Potato Gratin can certainly be prepared ahead of time until just cooked through. The reheat should be long and gentle, even a water bath would aid in the gentle reheating. The way we make gratin potatoes is to make a flavorful, heavily seasoned creme base (salt, pepper, minced garlic, fresh thyme). Basically we bring this up to simmer and throw the sliced potatoes in and let it cook on the stovetop for 3-4 minutes. The potato starch will release and make the mixture thick. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and finish the process -- we find this works particularly well on a reheat because the potato starch keeps the mixture from breaking (due to the high fat content of heavy creme).
  3. Tom Valenti

    Q: Scaling recipes

    Basically, scale it with direct proportions. A word of advice: if you are going to the trouble of making the braising liquid, make a full batch and you can always freeze half, so the next time around you are good to go.
  4. Tom Valenti

    Q: Satisfied chef

    I think that some people are certainly press driven. Even if you are press driven, as long as you maintain the level of quality that got you there in the first place, you should be cool.
  5. On Saturday, April 20 I'll be at Gracious Home (1992 Broadway at 67th St., NY) promoting Welcome to My Kitchen. This starts at noon. Other events that might come up will probably be listed here: http://www.harpercollins.com/catalog/event...?authorID=19955
  6. Tom Valenti

    Q: cookbooks

    All the monthly food publications I love. I appreciate the home-cooked friendly aspect of many of them. Cookbooks. . . really depends what day you catch me. I run the gamut from Escoffier to How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman to Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook . . . there are just so many good ones out there.
  7. Tom Valenti

    Q: Inspiration for recipes

    Inspiration can come from a number of places -- something I've eaten, remembered from my childhood, some ethnic influence (which is great in this great city). We take a very pragmatic approach to assembling a dish. I like cohesion among the products, obviously. I'm also very big into contrasting temperatures and textures. A simple example is a classic Frisee Au Lardons -- the cool crunch against the warm bacon. . . yahoo!
  8. Tom Valenti

    Q: Favourite Thing to Do

    I'm an early starter. I'm usually in the kitchen by 8 or so in the morning. So my cooking time is relegated to mornings, mostly. Basically what I do in the evening is oversee the preparation done by my kitchen crew -- tasting, tasting, tasting. R&D stuff -- it can be a drag :) For favorite physical tasks -- It can be as simple as chopping a carrot. I find the whole process of cooking, especially prep, very meditative. Which is why I lean more toward early prep. I don't want to drop the meditative quality by being in a mad dash. Prep ahead, prep ahead.
  9. Tom Valenti

    Q: Changing menus

    A little bit of both, really. We don't do big seasonal menu flips -- we kind of rely more on what's coming in at what time. We have the luxury on time of having a printer on site, so we can literally change a dish a day, if we so choose.
  10. Tom Valenti

    Q: What do you like to eat?

    Days off are usually, specially in season, relegated to my grill at my home in upstate NY. Simple simple stuff. Unless I'm entertaining, I'll quite often lean to the cookbook oriented recipes, as they are easily made ahead. I don't like all the mad dash, last minute stuff. If it's just my wife and I, simple pasta preparations, green salad, that type of thing.
  11. Tom Valenti

    Q: Whose food do you like?

    I believe that any chef who has a firm foundation in classic French, Italian, Spanish, etc. cooking. No one has successfully reinvented 12-bar blues or 4 chord rock and roll, I think roots are vital. Taste memory, practical application, and cohesion of ingredients will always win out. See above. l don't think there is any one item, such as the lamb shank, that is going to be the 'hot new ingredient'. I think (I hope) that the aforementioned sensibility will prevail. I appreciate the intellectual exercises of many chefs, after all we're blessed with the best chefs in the world in NY, but when it comes down to a good, full, satisfying meal that 's where I think I'm happiest. I think we all need a little comfort right now.
  12. Tom Valenti

    Q: Fly Fishing and Cooking

    Time to fish and relax? Yes, if it kills me. And for the best Cote de Boeuf -- Balthazar.
  13. Tom Valenti

    Q: Who would you cook for?

    Bob Dylan -- Whatever he wanted.
  14. The food is very approachable with great presentation and very comfort based flavors. We didn't change our offerings after 9/11 being that our menu is already based on that premise anyway.
  15. Tom Valenti

    Q: Novelty Salts

    We mostly use kosher salt here but we also have a coarse sea salt from Brittany in France.