“All of the restaurants have a slightly different style, but the one thing that weaves its way through is that there’s a lightness to it,” he says, of his culinary style. “I don’t use any butter or cream, and I like to incorporate Asian flavors and spices, whether they’re detectable or not.” (Think flavor pops like miso and pickled chiles.)
At home, where he shares his Clinton Hill fridge with his wife, Jocelyn, and their two children, ages six and three, the theme continues, and he tends to cook vegetarian more often than not.
“I just love that style of cooking and the flavors,” he says. “When cooking at home, quite often you want something that’s quick, and vegetables in general make a faster meal, and the health benefits are huge.”
Here’s a peek at Farmerie’s personal kitchen habits, whether he’s gaining menu inspiration from accidentally charring carrots, cleansing with Dr. Junger, or snacking on his son’s famous homemade peanut butter.
So, about cooking vegetarian at home. What’s with that giant hunk of meat? [Laughs] My wife and I eat vegetarian about 75 percent of the time, and I honestly only eat red meat once every two weeks or so. But when I do, I want to make sure it’s something amazing. I don’t want to waste it on gross ground beef. Those are steaks I brought home from Saxon+Parole. Obviously I’m biased but we have some of the best meat there. We get it from Pat LaFrieda. That’s a 28-day dry-aged rib eye. Last summer, my wife got me a grill called the Big Green Egg. We were having friends over, so we grilled those up.
Um, the Big Green Egg? Yes, it’s like a grill and a smoker in one! Funnily enough, the Big Green Egg was what gave me the inspiration for the charred carrrots on Public’s June vegetarian tasting menu. I threw all these carrots on and kind of forgot about them, and when I opened it up they were all blackened. So I ate one, and it was amazing! It just intensified that beautiful sweet flavor.
I’m so excited to hear chefs burn things too! I see you have all kinds of non-dairy milks and creamers. Are you dairy-free? That’s just a recent thing. Cleanses are not my normal thing, but I did the Clean program from Dr. Junger. Basically Jocelyn wanted to do it, and I did it to give her moral support. And I realized I’m a lot less congested if I eat less dairy. I’m not off it completely. Cheese is one of my vices, I guess you could say. I always have feta cheese in my fridge because I think that tangy flavor can really perk up food.
Agreed. What’s the story behind the hand-labeled peanut butter? It’s my son’s famous recipe—one part honey roasted peanuts and one part regular peanuts. He loves making it himself, and it’s really cute that he pulls the ingredients—all two of them—out and stands on a stool and makes it with my wife.
A chef in the making! That’s a gorgeous bowl of cherries. Are they a family favorite? My kids just plow through berries and cherries. They’ll eat us out of house and home with them. It’s a big part of their snacks and breakfasts. I don’t know if you can see, but there’s probably raspberries and blueberries and strawberries as well.
What do you use the organic miso for? I try to hide it in lots of the kids’ food. I think it really boosts flavor and it’s great for digestion and health, so even if I make chicken soup I’ll throw a dollop in. I made a Spanish-style tortilla with lots of veggies in it on the weekends and then we’ll add miso and harissa to mayo, and that’s a nice condiment. It looks really fancy even though its simple.
You’re a fan of condiments then? We have a ton of sauces and pickled things and that’s super important because it allows you to add a few things to give that pop to food, whether it’s an acidic pop or salty pop, and just create things on the fly. So things like pickled chiles, some kind of pesto, sundried tomatoes, capers. I think people should stockpile those, it’s the cornerstone of cooking at home. It allows you to get fancy really quickly. —Lisa Elaine Held