Tips, Tricks, and Restaurant Picks From Commerce's Harold Moore
In part one of my interview with Harold Moore, the chef-owner of Commerce (50 Commerce Street, 212-524-2301) talked about his philosophy and experience, divulging why he dislikes special requests and explaining how he came to own the knife of a chef who committed suicide. Here in part two, he shares kitchen wisdom and NYC restaurant picks.
What's the most underrated kitchen tool?
The flexible pastry spatula--it's the most well-loved tool in the whole kitchen. You can use it for plating. It's delicate, but you can flip things with it, like schnitzels, potato rostis, and fish. Mine has a handle that's all taped together because it's seen better days.
Favorite item in your pantry or walk-in?
Soy sauce. I love a good soy sauce. I'm a quarter Japanese, and I grew up with the soy sauce always being on the table. Soy sauce can give you that boost of salt and a depth of flavor that plain salt cannot. It has salinity and an umami quality, and it dissolves well into stuff.
What's the most underrated ingredient?
I don't think chicken gets a lot of respect. New York is crazy for pork and steaks, but I get a lot of fanfare around my chicken for two. Chicken is diverse, and it's lighter than pork and beef.
At what local bar or restaurant are you a regular?
When I want a glass of wine, I'll hit Buvette. I like Blue Ribbon Sushi because it's the best late night sushi around.
What's the most underrated restaurant in New York City?
I don't know if you would consider Peasant underrated because it's had fanfare in the past, but it's 13 years old at least. I love that restaurant. It's consistent and delicious.
Who's the most underrated culinary figure in New York City?
There's a guy named Tony Liu who's the chef at Morandi and Pulino. He's so fucking nice and super talented. Because of where he's working now, it's hard to sort of imagine how great he can be. But I've had some really good food from him. I had breakfast at Pulino the other day. It was so simple: roasted tomato, grilled bread, egg, salt, olive oil. It was so good. The tomato was perfect. The bread was perfect. He's a rock star in hiding.
At what New York restaurant do you celebrate a special night out?
Le Bernardin. I've been there more times than any other four-star restaurant.
On the next page, Moore drops some gift suggestions.