Round Two With Take Root's Elise Kornack: "You Have to Find the Balance Between Getting Pushed and Getting Pushed Around"

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Dominic Perri
I ran part one of my chat with Take Root's Elise Kornack yesterday. Here in part two, the chef talks bread-making, how to keep from getting discouraged in the NYC restaurant industry, and why she'd like Dan Barber to cook her an egg.

At what New York restaurant do you celebrate a special night out?
We like to go to Fatty Crab. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and we never go to the city, so going to Manhattan feels special. I'm very memory-oriented, and we used to go there on dates. I proposed to Anna just around the corner. The food is so good there.

What would you like to see more of in the New York culinary scene?
Trust from people. People too often wait to see it in New York magazine, Eater, or Serious Eats to trust that it's good, but you miss out on so many things by waiting. And we don't get to reap the benefits of people who would like this food, because those people never come in the door. The adventure is stepping out of your comfort zone.

What do you wish would go away?
Trending, or at least using that word. Stop using the word "trend" to describe something, because as soon as you do it, it becomes something else. Let things be what they are, and stop trying to categorize them.

What's your guiltiest pleasure?
Potato chips, no doubt. Specifically sour cream and onion. Also, salt-packed anchovies out of the jar. I eat them until my lips turn white. I have to do it in the privacy of my kitchen because Anna doesn't like the smell.

What's your favorite meal to cook at home?
Cannelini white beans have been in my life since I was in the womb. Sometimes we'll have greens and beans, which are cannellini beans with thyme and kale thrown in at the last minute. Or we'll have the same thing but with dehydrated garlic chips. We eat that at home once a week and top it with crispy broccoli florets or mushrooms. We keep a vegetarian house, so we have to get creative protein. Otherwise it's pasta with butter, salt, and cheese.

What's the most memorable meal you've ever eaten?
Gilt Restaurant. I was coming to visit David Carmichael, who was a chef there for a very long time, and was April Robinson's boyfriend. I was coming to the city by myself for the first time, and she got me a reservation. I had the 14-course tasting in the lounge. I'll never forget the experience, but second to last course was foie gras gelato. That was the moment when I thought, "Oh my god, you can do anything you want with food, and I'm in a city that celebrates that." I thought that it would be tough to exceed that meal, and it has yet to happen.

What do you wish you could put on your menu, regardless of how well it would sell?
I don't think I'd keep something off because I'm worried that it would sell. It would be more about whether it would fit with the rest of the dishes.

Hit the next page for what Kornack thinks is the most challenging thing about working in the NYC restaurant industry.

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Take Root

187 Sackett St., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant

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