Each year in April, we put our mind to what we can share with you for Earth Day. Not because it’s the only day we should think about it, but because it’s an annual reminder to realign and refocus our efforts. As with all things that become habitual, an annual marker to really stop and reflect can be incredibly helpful.
So this year, as we mark our annual celebration of Earth Day, take a moment to reflect on what you’re already doing and perhaps find a new, tangible and actionable way to to improve your relationship with Mother Nature and honor and respect the planet.
Check out what our amazing and creative team members at Great Performances are doing!
Mike Deuel, Executive Chef of Catering Operations & Anastassia Batsoula-Deuel, Party Chef
We’ve been busy processing some of the leftovers from the GP kitchen that didn’t have an outlet elsewhere for various reasons. Anastassia and Natalia, Anastassia’s mother and fellow party chef with Great Performances, have been busy turning the leftovers into creative meals. When we come up with something delicious, we’ve been sharing with our neighbors.
This weekend we organized seeds, planted garlic and beans, watered our tomato plants. We are planting everything! Different sorts and varieties of herbs; flowers for bees, insects and birds; and so many different vegetables: beans, beets, peas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, hot & sweet peppers, variety of leafy greens, celery, onions, garlic, artichokes, horseradish, rhubarb, ginger, turmeric and scallions to name a few.
We’re eagerly hoping our fruit trees and shrubs will produce this year. We have five varieties of plums, three varieties of apples, two varieties of peaches, and two different cherry trees, as well as a fig bush that is starting to show mini figs.
Anastassia and Natalia have also been busy making sourdough EVERYTHING, including delicious sourdough English muffins, and sharing with the neighbors as well. The only thing Mike will not let them share is the wine I’ve made; I need that to enjoy while reflecting on the day’s work.
Kaitlin Walsh, Director of Design
While I’ve been staying at home, I’ve had some extra time for projects. Here are some of the things I have been doing.
1. Vegetable scraps. I’m saving all scraps from my veggies and use them to make stock. I’ve already made two homemade stocks which I then make into soup or freeze in ice cube trays.
2. Herbs that may spoil. I’ll either put them in ice cube trays and top with olive oil or cook at a low heat in the oven and make into dried herbs (if you don’t have a dehydrator).
3. Saving the ends of green onions, chives, leeks. I’ll keep the root ends in water until they roots, then replant them. It’s a practice I learned from my mom and one that’s “trending” right now. I have them in a bunch of shot glasses in the kitchen window.
4. Craft packages. I’ve been finding odds and ends around the house and putting them in little kits which I then send to my nephew. It can be as easy as pipe cleaners, pop sickle sticks, clothes pins, pom poms, cotton balls, and labels.
5. Pressing flowers. It’s a craft I’ve been practicing for years as I’m fortunate to have access to flowers. These can then be used on various crafts including cards, jewelry, etc.
I’ve been very conscious about saving scraps and “thoughtfully” cooking to get the most out of every vegetable and cut of meat. It’s interesting because it’s the way my grandparents were raised through the Great Depression. Everything was recycled or repurposed. If food scraps weren’t used for a stock, they were used to feed the worms, that were used to catch fish. It was endless.
Justin Schwartz, Executive Chef, Production
Because we are stuck at home we have spent a lot of time rethinking our space. We live in carrol gardens, and our apartment building had a front garden that was just sitting there waiting to be claimed. I called my landlord and asked to take over the front garden and they were thrilled to give over its care to us.
I dug up all the plants (which we of course composted) with my son (who had a cute little red shovel) and turned it into a lesson about ecosystems, plant roots, soil you name it! Hes really enjoyed being a part of the process and seeing the grass seed we planted together germinate and grow has really put a silver lining on social distancing.
By Great Performances
Plant-based foods have been gaining momentum lately, especially in the fast food world. It’s not surprising as these venues are more accessible points for consumers to interact with plant-based foods, particularly those who may have reservations about going meatless. At Great Performances, we’re delighted to see plant-based foods becoming more mainstream. It’s a lifestyle we’ve advocated for decades now and spans Katchkie Farm, our NOFA-certified organic farm in upstate New York which serves as the inspiration for many of our dishes and to our adoption of Meatless Monday for our family meals.
This past year, our chefs have been innovating in the kitchen and have developed a vegan demi-glace which is not only 100% plant-based, but in sync with our mission of sustainability, reducing food waste, and lowering our carbon footprint. Made from vegetable trimmings, including carrot tops, onion roots and radish scraps, they’re cleaned, roasted and simmered into an umami-rich, mouth-wateringly delicious sauce that complements many of our dishes—vegan and otherwise. A traditional demi-glace is made with veal stock, which has myriad implications. Our vegan demi-glace is ethical, sustainable and delicious.
Our Chefs share their inspiration Behind the vegan demi-glace:
As chefs, many practices are rooted deeply in tradition–beautiful traditions that create beautiful food–and the veal demi-glace is undoubtedly one. And while tradition is great, here at Great Performances, we wield a responsibility to act not only because our impact is so profound, but because when we act, others follow.
With the strong culinary technique brought in by Chef Thomas Alford, if you have the ability to take a beautiful culinary tradition and re-imagine it to create a brighter future–while still making mouth-watering food–you do it!
Justin Schwartz, Executive Sous Chef, Catering Production
Here at Great Performances, we have access to many farmers, including our own at Katchkie Farm, who provide us with beautiful produce day in and day out. Within our high volume operation, we naturally produce a lot of waste, so instead of simply disposing of the waste, we take full advantage of our abundance and incorporate that into our menus. We utilize everything, employing expert practices and techniques, from mushroom stems to onion peel—even the ends and seeds of vegetables that are typically thrown away.
I took it upon myself, with the help of the GP production team, to collect as many vegetable scraps as possible to create something that exemplifies the love and diligent efforts of the workers from the farms and delivers it to the tastebuds and stomachs of our clients. From there, the vegan demi-glace was developed; it started in the depths of our earth where we are all from. We at Great Performances work hard to protect it, and it tastes so good!
Thomas Alford, Sous Chef
By Great Performances
We appreciate all of the dads here at GP and wanted to take a moment to hear some of their thoughts on fatherhood and plans for Father’s Day.
Ronnie Davis, Managing Director
I have always enjoyed Father’s Day, and enjoy it even more so now that I have grandchildren; But Father’s Day 2012 was very special. Father’s Day is always preceded by D-Day, that infamous June day when, during World War II, the Allied Forces launched a seemingly impossible invasion of German occupied France by storming the beaches of Normandy. The attack was spearheaded by the US Army Rangers who were the elite soldiers of their day and it was their job to “lead the way.” My father, Harry Davis, was one of them. He never talked about what has been infamously referred to as “The Longest Day.” We all knew that a part of him was left on those beaches that day and we were sure that the remainder of his adult life was influenced by it.
By chance, I found myself in Europe in June of 2012, so I decided to detour to Normandy on the way home–a pilgrimage of sorts, hoping to learn a little about what shaped my father’s thoughts in his adult life. As I found myself staring at the sea above the very cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, there was no doubt that I was now in my father’s footsteps. A local Frenchman born not too far from there suggested that I visit a small museum in Grandcamp-Maisy, a few miles from Omaha Beach. Seeking some more information, I entered the little beachfront building called “Musée des Rangers” and there, something special happened.
In the first case I looked, among the mementos placed as homage to the heroes who freed their city, was a picture of three smiling Rangers taken in England just prior to the invasion. The third soldier on the right smiling back at the camera was my father!
So, Dad, I will do as they do in Normandy; I will light a candle in your honor on June 6th, the anniversary of D-Day, and remember you with extra pride on this, and every, Father’s Day.
Happy Father’s Day to all who serve and have served this country.
Rodrigo Cando, Executive Sous Chef
Being a father is one of the greatest accomplishments a man can have. Watching your child say his/her first words and take his/her first steps is such a beautiful thing to experience. I am blessed to have three kids who make me very proud to be their father. This Father’s Day, my daughter plans to take me to a spa to relax and de-stress. My wife also plans to have a bbq for the family. It is going to be a good day!
Rob Valencia, Executive Chef, Catering Production
Being that this is my first Father’s Day, and that I’ve waited 48 years to get here, feels miraculous. What do I plan on doing? Nothing different from any other Sunday–the two of us spending time with our new son; or probably a picnic at the park next to our farmer’s market in Stuytown.
I’m just happy to have a day with them and dreaming about all of the future days to come.
On December 5th Great Performances had the privilege of producing a remarkable evening with the top three chefs in the world: Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy; Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain; and Mauro Colagreco of Restaurant Mirazur in Menton, France. We orchestrated this on behalf of the GR8 Group from Miami and the event, dubbed “Once Upon a Kitchen”, was held at one of our partner venues, Gotham Hall. This was our second time working with GR8 Group, as we supported Chef Massimo last year at his Great Arrival Saturday Dinner at Ellis Island. Coordinating three chefs was extremely challenging but also absurdly rewarding. As if that weren’t daunting enough, the great pastry chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar in New York City prepared the dessert. Not only did we provide and source all of the ingredients at our kitchen for three days of preparation, but our culinary team stayed in sync with them during preparation and serve out. We also directed the show flow and called the timing of all three chefs, taking a turn on stage plating one of their courses in front of three hundred guests (including our Founder & CEO Liz Neumark and our President Dean Martinus).
I’ve never been more proud to be part of Great Performances. There we were working side by side with Massimo, Mauro and Joan along with their respective culinary teams, pairing up for each of the seven courses with five of their chefs and five of ours. There is no greater affirmation than when you are recognized by world class professionals. The great chefs could not have been more complimentary to our team. I have served presidents, kings and queens as well as thousands of clients over five decades as a chef, caterer and producer. But for me, personally, to collaborate and scheme with the undisputed top culinary minds in the world is unquestionably one of the highlights of my more than 50-year career in hospitality. – Ronnie Davis, Managing Director, Great Performances
As a chef striving to be great, the ability to catch a glimpse of greatness from the world’s top chefs required my attendance. It turned out to be the inspiration I needed to stay on this course and continue to push harder. Watching the top chefs manage their respective teams was magical. Everyone worked seamlessly together with an amazing flow. The food spoke for itself, simply tasting. You didn’t want to take the last bite. That night lit a spark in me that was much needed in my development: to strive for greatness everyday with no exceptions. – Corey Samuel, Chef De Cuisine, Dizzy’s Club
While the preparation in the days leading up to the event were challenging to the kitchen and facility itself, the event itself saw our chefs on a world stage, performing a tightly choreographed ballet with these world titans.
As the chef coordinating the event for Ronnie Davis, Managing Director at Great Performances, it was impressive to see our chefs Lauren, Shaquay, Justin, Jon, Corey, Aaron and Veronica maneuvering with finesse alongside cooks from around the world.
It is rewarding to hear from Massimo that he trusts us to control his food over anyone else in the city. – Robert Valencia, Executive Chef of Catering Production, Great Performances
I have worked in the service industry for my entire professional career. In that time I have grown accustomed to making others’ dreams come true. Food service at this level is about creating once in a lifetime experiences every day of the week, but for the cook it is easy to fall into thinking that this is just a job and events are just another service. It is strange that a back of the house cook’s relationship to these events is so rarely considered. I found it ironic that for this event, by providing a once in a lifetime service for our guests, I, in turn, was receiving one. I was afforded the opportunity to work along side three world renowned Michelin Star Chefs with restaurants spread across Europe all in a single evening. The experience was surreal and wonderful.
As an aside, it was gratifying to face a difficult high volume service with a calm that I have earned through experience that our Michelin Star partners did not entirely share. And after working along side them, it was clear that we were every bit as good as they. Their world class technique married with our New York attitude and battle-hardened know-how truly did create a Great Performance. – Justin Schwartz, Production Sous Chef, Great Performances
Photo Credits: Ben Hider Images, Sarah Prawl
By Sarah Prawl
Contributions by Saul Bolton & Erika Lesser
DRINK RECIPES FOR EVERY DAD TO ENJOY
After you’ve treated Dad to a delicious meal (whether home-cooked or at his favorite restaurant) don’t forget to raise a glass and show him your appreciation.
Here is a collection of Father’s Day drink suggestions, Cheers!
For Dads Looking For A Refreshing Cocktail…
Chamomile Tequila Cocktail
2½ oz chamomile-infused tequila
1 oz fresh crushed strawberries
1 oz ruby red grapefruit pulp
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
3 slices of cucumber
1 grapefruit peel twist
Muddle strawberries, grapefruit gulp and cucumbers
Add ice, simple syrup, tequila and grapefruit juice
Pour into serving glass
Garnish with cucumber slices and a grapefruit twist
For Dads Looking For A Refreshing Non-Alcoholic Option…
Blackberry Agua Fresca
by Great Performances
6 cups fresh blackberries
4 quarts water
6 oz agave nectar
2 oz lemon juice
Blend ingredients to yield 1 gallon: fresh or defrosted blackberries, water, agave nectar, lemon juice
Garnish with lemon wedge
For Dads In Need Of Some R&R…
Slow & Steady
by Great Performances
1½ oz gin
¾ oz molasses
½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 orange peel
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, ensuring that molasses does not congeal at bottom and mixes with cocktail.
Pour into rocks glass over new ice.
Garnish with orange peel
For Dads Who’ve Eaten A Rich Dinner…
Amaro(A Great Digestif)
by Erika Lesser, Sylvia Center
Pour a couple ounces of your favorite amaro over ice (a big cube if you want to be fancy, or regular cubes or crushed ice if you want it to dilute faster).
Photo Credits: Deirdre Malfatto, Justin Schwartz, Kyle Schanzer