Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guest Blogger – Chef Kent

I try to envision specials our regular customers will eat, foods I know they’ll enjoy and then throw in something just a little bit different. Lately, I’ve been adding plantains and roasted artichokes to some of the specials. It makes me feel good when I hear comments on my way by that a customer never tried that certain unfamiliar item that I put in…and they like it.

Plantains are interesting to work with. Although they are commonly used in Caribbean and Latino cooking, they are unfamiliar to most people here. Plantains change in character from being savory to sweet as they ripen, depending on the way they’re cooked.

I’ve been experimenting with a twist on panzanella. Panzanella is a summer bread salad with lettuce and tomatoes from the Tuscany region of Italy. There are countless varieties of panzanella, just as there are hundreds of potato salad recipes in the United States. My version of panzanella uses cornbread, in an homage to Southern cooking.

I’m a native of Portsmouth. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 15 years. My most recent training was in New York, where I found myself both humbled and challenged by the restaurant scene there. I learned accuracy and finesse. New York City has amazing energy. There’s always something going on, no matter what time it is. On the other hand, the crush of people sometimes overwhelmed me. It was hard to be alone. I’m glad to be back in Portsmouth working with Alan.

I love to read about food. Recently I’ve been reading The Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

Fish is my favorite thing to cook because it is such a challenge. Each variety of fish cooks up differently. This autumn, I’m looking forward to offering some lamb specials, the fall produce coming up, and maybe serving some game meats like venison and quail.

The best thing about being a chef is that someone can come into The Flagship, in a terrible mood, or careworn, with a lot on his mind, and I can transform that by something so simple as a good meal, thoughtfully prepared, and beautifully served.

From the mind of the Chef,

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