The Grub Street Diet

Chef Zak Pelaccio Needs His Greens, Drinks Home-Distilled Absinthe

Zak Pelaccio (and his son, Hudson) outside Fatty Johnson's.
Zak Pelaccio (and his son, Hudson) outside Fatty Johnson’s. Photo: Melissa Hom

Even by chef standards, Fatty Crew chef Zak Pelaccio is a busy guy. He operates three restaurants in New York City; is running the pop-up Fatty Johnson’s concept while he prepares to turn the space into a different, full-time restaurant; has yet another restaurant opening next month in St. John (“All my cooks are like, Shit, I’ll work down there“); plans to open two food kiosks in Battery Park after that; and is putting the finishing touches on a cookbook that should be released this Christmas. “It’s a hectic schedule,” he admits. As if all that weren’t enough, when we spoke to him this week, he was busy trying to “coax [his] son into doing some more homework.” And yet, he still found time to tell us about everything he ate — well, everything except for the “daily regimen of tiny tastes while cooking, or tasting what my chefs are working on” — for this week’s edition of the New York Diet.

Friday, January 21
I had two early meetings in the morning — uptown and downtown — so no breakfast and no coffee.

Lunch was with an old friend at Blue Ribbon Bakery, around the corner from Fatty Johnson’s. I had a catfish po’ boy and a cup of coffee with milk, no sugar.

Two friends were in town staying at the Duane Hotel, so my girlfriend, Jori, and I met them in their room and had a bottle of Champagne.

I walked Jori to the car. She went to Greenpoint for a dinner party, but I decided to stay with my friends instead of going out — it was too fucking cold. We ordered in the room from Nam. I had pork chops and rice, and we shared bottles of Chartogne-Taillet and Nikolaihof Riesling. We discussed videography for an upcoming project.

Saturday, January 22
Worked all morning and into the evening, first at Johnson’s, then at ’Cue. Didn’t eat anything.

Later, I cooked at home. Made a seafood stew with scallops, shrimp, mussels, fluke, fennel, chile, and couscous. Jori made chocolate-chip cookies. We didn’t have any booze. It was an early night.

Sunday, January 23
Sunday was an interesting day. Had to wake up at 5:15 a.m. for a video shoot at FCI. My girlfriend has this stuff called Green Superfood. It’s like a tablespoon of that and water, and some cider vinegar that a family friend makes in Vermont. I was just trying to get myself jacked up for the shoot. So I was up drinking Superfood and trying to be awake.

I had two coffees and three bottles of water by 8 a.m.

Lunch was half a chicken thigh and some greens from a catered lunch. I think it was from Hill Country. And I had more coffee with that.

We finished the shoot at 10 p.m. Jori picked me up and we stopped for dinner at Matsugen. We had a snow-crab-and-mushroom rice pot; uni and soba noodles; hamachi and daikon; some pickles; two rice shochus, and a sweet-potato shochu. Great soba. And so nice!

Monday, January 24
Had an early lunch — dim sum at 10 a.m. at Golden Unicorn. It was a meeting and I was tired. I thought I’d lost my scarf at the restaurant and ended up going back to look for it. Totally ridiculous. I didn’t even wear my scarf that day; it was at home on the coat hook.

Had many meetings at the Fatties throughout the day, so didn’t eat anything until early evening. Had a burger at Fatty Johnson’s, with our bread-and-butter pickles and Pyrénées de Brebis. So fucking tasty.

I brought a pizza from Naples 28 home late, around eleven-ish, for Jori. Mozzerella di Buffala. Smoked part of a joint and nibbled on that with some arugula. No booze.

Tuesday, January 25
Up at 5:30 a.m. again. Drank some water. Had to help open our new kiosk for the Parks Department because they’d scheduled a movie shoot.

Lunch was a meeting at Market Table. Had a good lobster roll (on a bun) and half a bottle of sparkling cider — it already felt like evening to me. Really, a cider a day is better than an apple.

Got home late. Jori was bottling celery preserves, and making mustard and Worcestershire sauce. I ate some leftover seafood stew from Saturday and had a glass of Cory’s home-distilled absinthe with ice and water. I was finishing Keith Richards’s book, and I needed something strong for that.

Wednesday, January 26
Superfood again!

Prepped for the Cooking Room at P.S. 3. It’s a full classroom at the school that’s dedicated to teaching cooking technique, taste, food science, and nutrition to kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. I started this project last fall with the help from some friends and colleagues from P.S. 3 and FCI/ICC. We just got our 501(c)(3) status and are ready to begin fund-raising. We’re building a curriculum now.

I made chicken soup with a kindergarten and first grade class, and then with my son Hudson’s class, the second and third. P.S. 3 combines the grades. I ate like one-third of a bowl of the soup.

Spent the night at home with Hudson. We roasted a Violet Hill Belle Rouge and ate it with Jori’s Worcestershire. Her sauces and preserves rock. She’s selling mustard, Worcestershire, celery-and-thyme vin, persimmon vin, a persimmon drink that’s called “Like Cider,” and salted chilies to my stores. They’ll go to retail soon! Hudson and I also had some penne rigate with cultured butter and Parmigiano. And some arugula. Hudson and dad need their greens.

Chef Zak Pelaccio Needs His Greens, Drinks Home-Distilled Absinthe