Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, NYC chef April Bloomfield swooned over the perfectly balanced shredded beef tacos prepared by fellow New York chef Sue Torres at her restaurant Sueños. So what makes Torres’ tastebuds tingle?
Who: Sue Torres, chef at Sueños, New York
What: Charcuterie plate
Where: Osteria, Philadelphia
When: June 2009
“I was in Philadelphia for an event Marc Vetri has every year for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It’s one of my favorite events because it’s not in New York, so I get to travel. Marc sets up all the chefs to eat at various local restaurants, but his restaurant was by far the best we ate at. It was just so inspiring to be around other great chefs, at a great restaurant. The charcuterie plate was the first thing that came out - there was a pasta course, and a game course, he really went to town.
But the charcuterie course reminded me a lot of my childhood, where my Italian grandparents would start the meal with meat. Marc took it to another level: there was a duck pate that was amazing, some handmade hot sausage, like a soppressata. It’s more than just the meat plate - it was also the bread and the olive oil and it was just this great, conversational, entertaining food where you can talk to the people that you’re with and just enjoy their company. It’s that passion all Italians have - you get the best quality product you can find and you put it on the plate. You cook for family, you cook for love, you cook for passion, and it comes through the moment the food hits your mouth. It’s like, “I’m home.” And that’s all there in the charcuterie plate.”
Marc Vetri, chef-owner of Osteria, breaks down the meat plate:
“Every year we have the Great Chefs event to benefit the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and we bring all the chefs from around the country in one day earlier and we really lay it out for them at Osteria. Last year we hosted 20 chefs, but they all have sous chefs with them, so there were maybe 60 people and we had them in the garden room at Osteria . We started the meal off with this platter that consisted of different warm charcuterie. The one Sue was talking about, I think, was maybe this pork belly we did? We salt it for three days in a mix of sugar, fennel and salt, then we rinse off all of the salt and roast it in the oven. Then we slice it and on the pickup we sear it lightly over the wood coals. We serve it with an artichoke mostarda that we make at the restaurant also. It was the hit of the evening. We have it on the menu a couple of months out of the year - it will probably go on the menu in the next few months. We have so many ways that we make charcuterie - we have to just rotate them in all the time.”