Arun is a wonderful young chef at Gramercy Tavern, he was born in New York City with parents who introduced him to different kinds food and eating at an early age. Even though he was not always an adventurous eater, being in the city and having exposure to many different kinds cuisines as well as shops and restaurants helped build a foundation for Arun's later interest in food.
Arun attended Tufts University and became fascinated with food and cooking during a summer spent abroad living with a host family in Annecy, France. Upon returning to New York, he took a job as a Chess teacher and also started cooking more and going to as many restaurants as possible to learn more about food. In 2008 he switched careers and has been working in a professional kitchen ever since.
Below is Arun's first piece for us about Farmers Markets. Enjoy!
Everyone who knows me knows how much I like to shop farmer's Markets. Even when I don't have time to buy vegetables and cook I like to walk through the market and go vegetable browsing or even hang around and do some people watching. Even when I'm traveling I manage to find a farmer's market to visit. During my last two trips away from the city (to Chicago and Concord Mass, a combined 4 days) I've managed to locate markets, buy vegetables and cook dinner. Working in the industry I also frequently run into and get to chat with former colleagues who work at other restaurants, friends from work, or even some farmers who I've become friendly with.
I love visiting the market at this time of year when we transition from late summer to early fall produce. I can go and still buy some of my favorite things like sweet corn, tomatoes and squash all at the same time. The main reason I like to purchase some of these things in season from farmer's markets (particularly union square) is because there is such wide variety of each vegetable to choose from. Someone who solely shops at a Whole Foods or Gristede's would never be able to fathom the numerous varieties of tomatoes, squashes and peppers that we get to see, buy and eat during this time of year. (Some of the farmers themselves don't even know the names of some of the varietals they grow which I think is actually kind of cool.)
The vegetable/fruit/berry (technically) that has fascinated me lately has been the pepper. I love walking through the market and seeing peppers abundant in different sizes, shapes and colors. Peppers also intrigue me because I don't know very much about most of the varieties on hand, creating an air of mystery and fear (because some of them are scary hot.) I love peppers because they are so different and versatile and can be used in so many different ways.
While I've spent some time recently working with less spicy peppers like Poblanos or bell peppers, stuffing, sauteing and roasting, I've been try to figure out ways to use some of the spicier, extremely floral and fruity peppers in my cooking. While at work, I learned that you
can capture much of the essence of these hot peppers (without the heat) by pickling them. If you make a fairly weak pickling solution and bring it to a boil you can simply pour it over the peppers and your liquid will take on many of the floral, fruity characteristic inherent in each pepper and still not be spicy. The actual pickles are still spicy (I ate a tiny Brazilian pepper whole and felt like someone had punched me in the gut for about 30 minutes until I calmed the fire by eating a pint of vanilla ice cream) but the liquid is sweet, acidic (because of the vinegar) and delicious. The best part of pickling peppers is that it allows you to buy more than you need in season and use them throughout the late fall and winter when there are no farmer's markets peppers to be had.