I talked to Dan about his fateful meeting with Jean Georges, the trend of veggies, his must-haves on the menu, and even his Last Supper.
MBG: Is it true that Jean-Georges spotted you at the Union Square Greenmarket picking up so much produce that he struck up a conversation with you, which lead to you becoming the chef at ABC?
DK: Sort of. We met at the market and just started talking. I think because I was there every week buying so much he realized I was very committed to using local farmers. When I told him I was looking for a job I guess he assumed it would be a good fit for his new project.
Is everything on the menu at ABC local, seasonal, or organic? Why is this important to you as a chef?
We try very hard for local/seasonal and when we can’t get it we get organic. I believe in using the local products obviously for the “green and sustainability” of it, but more I really like these farmers. They are as passionate about their products as we are about ours. And our good products are just a result of their hard work.
The trend of vegetables seems to be taking off with chefs like Alain Ducasse, Mario Batali, and Jose Andres publicly speaking about it -- what are your thoughts?
I think we tend to go to heavy on proteins, and when you have so many great vegetables (especially locally) I like to focus more on those and use them as major part of the dish so we can cut back a little on the protein.
You live in Brooklyn -- where do you eat?
Typically we do simple take-out or cook at home, but if not we try and go to some of the new local restaurants. Franny’s and Al Di La are some of my favorites.
Favorite spots to shop for produce and food?
The markets, either Union Square or Grand Army. I like Union Market as well, and then we typically will just find some little butcher shop or specialty store if we are out walking around.
What is so unique about ABC?
I don’t think it’s really all that unique. We have just tried to go back to the basics and make really flavorful simple food using local ingredients that makes you keep coming back for more.
What are some must-haves on the menu?
Raw scallop, heirloom toast, crab toast, mushroom pizza, sautéed corn and carrot salad.
Your favorite veggie in season?
What are you working on now?
Starting to get ready to move over to some of the fall veggies, such as squash and sweet potatoes.
If it was your Last Supper, what would you eat? Where would you eat? Who would be there? Would there be music?
Billy Joel would be there and playing live, so that’s two...my wife and two kids, in the country somewhere sitting on a porch, and we would eat a lot of the food we have here today. Tomatoes, corn, pizza, pasta, lamb chops.
For more on Dan and ABC Kitchen:
ABC Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter