“Mr. de la Rosa,” she said to a server, holding up the shard on her fingertip, “Would you like to take this downstairs and show it to them?”

Ms. Mar’s earliest cooking jobs were at Diner and Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn. She helped open Reynard, where she learned to butcher, then became a sous-chef at the Spotted Pig (where the owner, Ken Friedman, has been accused of sexual harassment by several current and former employees).

Her aim, she says, is to provide her team with the training, support and guidance she couldn’t always find for herself as a young cook. For restaurant culture to shift in a meaningful way, Ms. Mar believes it is just as vital for her to mentor men as women.

“We need to focus on bringing the next generation up,” said Ms. Mar, who refers to her staff, half-jokingly, as her kids. “Because what really matters is where my cooks are in 10 years, and who they’re mentoring in 10 years.”

Ms. Mar sometimes uses honorifics — Mr. and Ms., ladies and gentlemen — to address her team, with the archaic formality of a professor. She and her managers also carve out time each day to discuss an informal curriculum of books, films and restaurant reviews, as well as techniques and inspirational quotations, with the entire staff.

On a recent evening, they talked about “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” the 2011 documentary about the Japanese chef Jiro Ono, marveling at his craftsmanship.

Photo

One of Ms. Mar’s newest dishes is a dry-aged porterhouse served with truffle butter and snails, in a red wine sauce enriched with trotters.

Credit
Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times

Afterward, Ms. Mar met with her wine consultant, Nathan Wooden, to test dishes under development. The staff seated her, as if she were a guest, and Ms. Mar took notes on the back of her menu, writing down questions and ways to improve not only on flavors and presentations, but also on the introductory monologue a server gives to each table (which she determined to be a smidgen too long).

Just a few weeks earlier, she had tapped a 19-year-old server, Emma Arango, to train as a chef de salon, adding tableside service to her responsibilities. Tonight Ms. Arango was in a black suit, shaving truffles over hamburgers, flambéing whole ducks, carving lamb.

“Look at her go,” Ms. Mar said with pride. “She’s going to run one of my restaurants one day.”

Ms. Mar had asked the kitchen to plate two versions of a langoustine cocktail she was fine-tuning — one with the sharp shell still on, the other ready to eat.

“The problem is, do most people want to go through all this?” Ms. Mar asked, cracking open a shell-on one with her hands, with ease, dipping the meat in butter, and then tipping it back for a taste of the brains. No, she decided, and went with the version that would require more work in the kitchen, but less in the dining room.

The langoustine had been developed, like all new dishes, through a series of weekly workshops that Ms. Mar runs with her sous-chef, Nicole Averkiou, and head chef, Ed Szymanski.

Continue reading the main story



Source link