The New York Diet

‘Epic Chef’ April Bloomfield Breaks for Tea and Biscuits

Chef April Bloomfield over lunch at Eleven Madison Park.
Chef April Bloomfield over lunch at Eleven Madison Park. Photo: Melissa Hom

On Saturday, April Bloomfield took her first day off from the Breslin in months. To decompress from twelve-hour days feeding scensters, Bloomfield’s downtime includes light babysitting, playing with her current favorite iPhone app, Epic Chef, and dreams about her future projects with Ken Friedman. Next up is the John Dory 2.0. With the success of the Breslin at the Ace, could the fish shack resurface in a hotel? “Oooh. That might be, but I’m not going to make any comments on that,” she teased, directing us to business partner Ken Friedman. Bloomfield’s forte is food, and she recovered from hard labor on the line with meals at Eleven Madison Park and Locanda Verde in this week’s New York Diet.

Saturday, January 16
That was the first day off I took after a few months of being at the Breslin. So I didn’t know what to do with myself, quite frankly. The review had just come out on Wednesday, and I was tired and I wanted to take a day off. For breakfast I had Raisin Bran. I like Raisin Bran because you get healthiness in the bran but then you get a little sweetness from the raisins. I had some Ronnybrook whole milk on that, a banana, and then I drank a cup of coffee. I actually take milk from work, just like a pint here or there.

Then I drank a Vitasoy. It’s like a Chinese soy drink that’s slightly sweetened, just a natural flavor. No chocolate or anything. It was a bit weird being not at the Breslin, so I just kind of sat at home and played with my Epic Chef, which I’m kind of addicted to, on my iPhone. It’s really geeky and I’m probably coming off as quite square, but I just recently got an iPhone. And I got this app called Epic Chef. Basically you can pick a chef, and you have a certain amount of stamina. You train to get even more stamina and keep up your energy and play with other people who have these different chef personas on their iPhones. And then you fight against each other. They’re anonymous. They have these names … I’m not gonna give out my name. I spent probably a good couple hours of the day trying to figure it out and enjoy myself. It’s a fun thing. Kind of square. I’m probably sounding quite boring.

So what else did I do? One of my friends just had a baby so I went and helped look after her baby boy. Somebody ordered Thai food from this local place. I don’t remember the name, unfortunately. I had tomato, watercress, and beef salad, with toasted rice, which was delicious. And then I had pad Thai after that. I love the fried egg, and the peanut.

I spent time with them and around 1 a.m., I went to the Pig for a birthday party Kate Douglass, who works at the host desk during the day at lunch, was having a birthday party there. I had a couple of glasses of Prosecco. And then I had a couple of Sapporo Lights. No food.

Sunday, January 17
You know, I start my day with tea. Every morning I wake up and have a cup of tea in bed. I relax, either read cookbooks or think about food; think about what’s in season; and I try to get inspired.

For tea, I love PG Tips. It’s an English brand and it’s a mixture of tea leaves in this little pyramid bag, which is supposed to release flavor really fast, which is a bonus if you want caffeine fast. So I’m a big fan of that. So I had a couple of cups of tea. Then I headed to the Breslin. It was the first time I had walked to work in a couple of months, ‘cause I’ve been so busy. I had a very brief meeting at the Breslin and I had the full English Breakfast that we do: You know, we make our own homemade sausages, and they’re just so juicy and crumbly and nicely seasoned. I had a couple of fried eggs, some tomatoes that were cooked with garlic and bay leaf, some mushrooms, and then some house-cured bacon. And then I did a little bit of service.

Throughout the day, I had two chocolate-walnut cookies that my pastry chef had made for the cookie plate. They were kind of crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. And then about an hour later, I went back for some ginger cookies she had made. I have an appetite for cookies and tea, or biscuits as we say in England. I have a soft spot for biscuits and tea. It’s very English, isn’t it?

The cooking winded down from brunch, so we have to do a really quick clean-down and then gear up for dinner. So just before dinner, at like 4:30, 5 p.m., I had a preservice cup of tea and a glass of water. I have a preservice cup of tea every day. I’m never without my PG Tips. It just kind of perks me up perfectly at the beginning.

I don’t like to eat family meal. I get too heavy. I remember a time I ate Shepherd’s Pie at the Spotted Pig. It was so delicious, I ate so much of it that I couldn’t move. And I felt so sluggish and all I wanted to do was curl up by the stove, but obviously I can’t do that. So I try not to eat so much before service. Anyway, service went well. I tasted stuff throughout the night. I ate copious amounts of duck salad we have on the menu, which is slow-roasted duck topped with sprouts and some pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. I was tasting the onion soup, mashed potatoes, pear salad with bleu cheese … If I’m feeling like I’ve tasted too much, I drink bitters to get a hold of myself a little bit.

I had a Blue Point Toasted Lager just before going home. And when I got home I had some salted pistachios from Trader Joe’s. You should only eat the ones in the shell. There’s something about taking a salted pistachio out of the salted shell. And then I had a glass of wine. I think it was a Chenin Blanc, Vouvray.

Herbal tea before bed? What? I don’t know if I know any chefs who drink herbal tea. I drink about ten cups of tea, on average, a day.

Monday, January 18
My other half was having friends around the apartment. Pretty much I was at the Breslin all day. It was a busy day so I didn’t eat all day Monday. Especially having a day off on Saturday, you want to come in and kind of catch up on stuff. And Sunday was a hugely busy.

By the time I got home it was, like, 12 a.m., and I managed to grab some leftovers. I had guanciale pasta with lemon and peas. It was made with guanciale fat, the pasta, and the peas were frozen, I know — shock, horror. But I do like frozen peas, and they’re quite good to keep in the freezer. And they’re very consistent and sweet. My other half made it. And with the pasta I had a Sapporo that I had in the fridge. I had it with a frozen pint glass. Perfect after a service, having a nice beer in a frosty glass.

Tuesday, January 19
I had my regular cup of tea in bed and I had a banana. Then I went to the Breslin, did some work there for a few hours, and then I went to see Andrew Carmellini at Locanda Verde. I went to talk to him and chat and get some advice from him. He offered me something to eat and I couldn’t refuse. So I finished up what I had to do there, and I sat at the bar with my head chef at the Breslin, Peter Cho. We had rock-shrimp pasta in a tomato sauce, pumpkin agnolotti with sage, brown butter, and amaretto biscuits; and then you can’t go to Locanda Verde and not have the lamb sliders. So we got some of them in there, too. They’re so easy to eat. We had some Brussels sprouts with pancetta, fried potatoes with parsley and aïoli — some kind of mayonnaise-y thing. And I had a glass of Ribolla.

Then Karen DeMasco came out to say hi to us, which is always a joy. She sent us out a couple of desserts. One was a maple budino, which is a maple pudding with butternut-squash sorbet and candied pecans. It was so delicious. It really worked well with the maple. And we had date pudding with rum ice cream. The rum ice cream was perfect. I love Karen’s desserts. She explains them so well and she’ll say to you, “You know, they’re just so comforting.” And you know, they’re very nurturing. I just love the way people talk about food. She just made my day with the way she was talking about food. She’s very passionate. Lunch was around 3 p.m. Then I went back to the Breslin and did some service there. And that was pretty much my Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 20
Wednesday, I had my regular old cup of PG. Can’t start my day off without PG. I went to the Pig; spent some time tweaking the menu a little bit. I changed a couple of garnishes on each dish and just played around a little bit. For my lunch, I had chicken-liver toast and deviled eggs. Then I had some Maine shrimp with aïoli and concentrated on booking my lunch Thursday at Eleven Madison. I hadn’t been in a while, and I just wanted to enjoy myself and relax and eat some fantastic food. I’m a big fan of Daniel [Humm]. And yeah, it was perfect. It was everything I wanted.

For dinner, I was still at the Pig. I had a plate of mushroom pasta that my chef was running as a special. I didn’t drink anything that night. Around 8 p.m., I went to the Breslin and finished service there, and then went home.

Thursday, January 21
I got up and did some work on e-mail, checked some stuff and replied to people who I had probably neglected in the last month, and then took a nice stroll to Eleven Madison and had lunch with Peter Cho.

Oh myGod, I had a foie gras, a little block of foie gras and pineapple and a little pickled onion. The foie gras was so silky smooth and delicious, and it came with rum and raisin brioche, which was sweet and fluffy and delicious, slightly toasted. I had a poached lobster with a Espelette pepper butter; it came with a lemon-curd marmalade. Then I had poached black bass with saffron broth with tapioca, mussels, clams, chorizo, which was so clean and crisp. It was awesome. And then I had braised veal cheeks with celeriac. And I had two desserts: a Pop Rock and grapefruit ice pop. It was like sorbet with Pop Rocks in it; it was very refreshing. And then we had this dessert with white-chocolate ice cream that was slightly caramelized with … so many components — there were so many different terms — with this crumble of chocolate biscuit and this super-fluffy ice cream that was made with liquid nitrogen. Anyway, it was all delicious and now I’m stuffed. And I’m heading to a meeting with Dan Halpern at Harper Collins.

‘Epic Chef’ April Bloomfield Breaks for Tea and Biscuits