Eataly’s Se­ries

We talk with Chef Adam Hill about his sim­ple culi­nary style at Eataly’s Manzo.

Athleisure - - Contents - @Che­fA­damHill @EatalyFlat­iron

The month of Sept is al­ways a hec­tic time of year as it's sum­mer's last hur­rah, NYFW kicks off Fash­ion Month, foot­ball sea­son be­gins and fall is em­braced with it's tran­si­tional style and food fes­tiv­i­ties! As we fin­ished our fi­nal show of NYFW SS19, we found our­selves en­joy­ing Eataly's Chef Se­ries, which is a col­lab­o­ra­tion of chefs in­clud­ing Chef Daniel Boulud, Chef Marc For­gione just to name a few, with Manzo's Chef Adam Hill. We took some time to talk to Chef Adam to find out about how he got into the in­dus­try, his work at Eataly's open kitchen Manzo, sourc­ing and sus­tain­abil­ity and of course the Chef Col­lab­o­ra­tions.

ATH­LEISURE MAG: Tell us when you knew that you wanted to be a chef.

CHEF ADAM HILL: Be­lieve it or not, prob­a­bly when I was 10 years old. I started watch­ing this show and it was be­fore Food Net­work. There was a show called Great Chefs of the USA and The World. It was a very dry show and was not at all cre­ated for a 10 year old. It wasn’t like Emeril Live and didn’t have any kind of flash to it. I re­mem­ber one day in par­tic­u­lar that my dad went out for a busi­ness meet­ing and he came back a lit­tle over an hour later and I was still sit­ting in front of the TV fas­ci­nated by it! I started cook­ing din­ner for my fam­ily at the age of 10 or 11. My mom took a job at night and even though I was the youngest in the fam­ily, I started cook­ing for my 2 older brothers, my mom and my dad. From there, I just fell in love with it. I started read­ing cook­books at the age of 11 or 12. It got me at a young age!

AM: That’s a huge part of your culi­nary jour­ney! Where else did you go and where did you train prior to com­ing to Eataly?

CHEF AH: I started my Lu­cibello’s in West Haven, CT. I started work­ing there at the age of 16 as a dish­washer and prep cook. I worked there for about 2.5 years while I was still in high school. I ended up work­ing my way up to prep cook full time. From there, I did some line ex­pe­ri­ence also and work­ing the hot­line – start­ing at a young age. I also worked at a Coun­try Club called The Stan­wich Club in Green­wich, CT and I was at The Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica at the Rec Cen­ter – a stu­dent run restau­rant called, The Court­side Café. It was sim­ple things for stu­dents like burg­ers, fries, chicken fin­gers and cheeses­teaks. It’s things that stu­dents want to eat when it’s not part of the cur­ricu­lum. Even with that, af­ter work­ing there a cou­ple of months, I be­came Stu­dent Man­ager – it was a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause at the CIA ev­ery 3 weeks, you have a new class. So you might be PM for 3 weeks and then in 3 weeks you might be learn­ing Break­fast Class which starts at mid­night but ends at 8am or 9am. So ev­ery 3 weeks, our staffing would change at Court­side so I got very good at teach­ing peo­ple be­cause your staff may change.

Some­times you go from hav­ing 15 avail­able cooks to 10 and you have to fig­ure out how to make it work with the sched­ule. Maybe some­one has never worked a set sta­tion and you have to teach them how to do it and to pick it up as quickly as pos­si­ble. That def­i­nitely helps. When I grad­u­ated from CIA, I worked at Chipo­tle for 6 months and I wanted to learn how they ran their busi­ness, how they did their order­ing and their over­all phi­los­o­phy. It was also a great ex­pe­ri­ence. My whole plan was to work there as that would be the job that would pay the bills and then train at other kitchens when I had free time. But once I be­came a man­ager, they said I couldn’t do that be­cause I needed to have open avail­abil­ity and if I was trail­ing some­one when I had a day off and they needed to call me in if some­one couldn’t make it – it would be a prob­lem.

Around that same time, Eataly opened

and I started work­ing at the Flat­iron lo­ca­tion when it opened 8 years ago. I started work­ing at Il Pesce as a line cook and be­came a sous chef there and then I wanted to do some­thing new, and then about a year and a half/2 years later, I came to Manzo as a line cook and worked my way through the sta­tions. Af­ter 2 years, I be­came sous chef and af­ter about 2 years I be­came the chef here for 3 years. So I have been at Eataly ever since it has opened and I have been able to stay here so long be­cause there is al­ways some­thing new here, a new chal­lenge to learn and ev­ery­day, ev­ery­week there is some­thing new and dif­fer­ent go­ing on. It’s great to run your own restau­rant while fit­ting in with the Eataly struc­ture.

AM: What’s an av­er­age day like for you at Manzo?

CHEF AH: I don’t know if there is ever an av­er­age day es­pe­cially in the restau­rant busi­ness and es­pe­cially at Eataly.

On av­er­age, I come in and check in with the sous chef to make sure that we’re on the same page as far as run­ning the spe­cials, dou­ble check­ing with what the line cooks are do­ing, al­ways walk­ing around and talk­ing with ev­ery­one tast­ing ev­ery­thing to make sure it tastes right be­fore we go into lunch or din­ner ser­vice. Talk­ing with the Gen­eral Man­ager to make sure we’re on the same page in terms of spe­cials and changes to the menu. As we go into ser­vice mak­ing sure that we are ex­pe­dit­ing ser­vice and that food comes to­gether at the same time. Mak­ing sure it’s right be­fore it goes out. As we are get­ting through ser­vice, mak­ing sure that we are clean­ing up and that ev­ery­one is tak­ing their breaks.

The best way to ex­plain the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a cook and a chef is that a cook is a player on the team, but when you are the chef, you have to be the coach and it’s hard for some peo­ple to make that ad­just­ment be­cause when you’re the chef, it’s no longer about be­ing the best player, it’s about mak­ing sure that your play­ers are do­ing the best that they can and that your cooks are as well pre­pared as they can be. Mak­ing sure that as a chef, we’re al­ways teach­ing and al­ways hav­ing peo­ple think about the next step and train­ing the per­son be­hind them to make sure that they are get­ting ready for a new sta­tion. For ex­am­ple, to­day walk­ing kind of slow so that the per­son who is on salad sta­tion is learn­ing on veg sta­tion and maybe the per­son on veg sta­tion learns how to grill meat and the per­son on meat sta­tion be­gins to learn on pasta. Some of the more ad­vanced peo­ple can do the chef thing. It’s all about teach­ing and mak­ing sure that the cooks know that it’s not just a job to them, but that they are learn­ing as much as they can while they are here. In this busi­ness, when peo­ple aren’t learn­ing, they will put in a year on their re­sume and they will go else­where. The more that you can keep them in­vested and buy­ing in, it keeps them en­gaged and hope­fully you have a good suc­ces­sion plan so that you have a full cir­cle of train­ing hap­pen­ing.

AM: We truly en­joyed at­tend­ing a re­cent Chef Col­lab­o­ra­tions din­ner at Eataly where the menu was cre­ated by you and Chef Gabriel Kreuther. What is the pur­pose of the chefs se­ries that took place there and how did it mold the menu as you part­nered with dif­fer­ent chefs through this se­ries?

CHEF AH: We had this idea about a year ago as we had done a ren­o­va­tion of Manzo’s din­ing room. The kitchen is now in the din­ing room and it was an idea to help cross pro­mote Manzo as well as the guest chefs, with some of the pro­ceeds go­ing to char­ity. It was a great op­por­tu­nity for our guest chefs as well as for me to work with them to learn dif­fer­ent styles of cook­ing.

The style of food and chefs def­i­nitely

brings a dif­fer­ent fla­vor each time. We re­cently changed the for­mat be­cause when we first did it we had the guest chef’s dish and a dish from Manzo’s menu, but as we con­tin­ued through the se­ries in the next round – we changed it to be a 4 course menu. So it was a dish of ours, ei­ther on the menu or off, a dish from the guest chef, the main course was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the 2 chefs and then hav­ing the dessert course. This way was much bet­ter for the se­ries to run for ex­am­ple at the din­ner you at­tended, Chef Kreuther and I had a great over­lap as he is from Al­sace and there is some over­lap with Al­sace cook­ing and Ital­ian cook­ing. One of my fa­vorite things on the menu is Testa (it trans­lates to Head Cheese in English, but it’s Pig Head) and I wanted to show­case this as it’s about re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing and eat­ing sus­tain­ably and some­times us­ing just the pork chop or just the pork ten­der­loin – ev­ery­time an an­i­mal dies – the whole an­i­mal should be used. To uti­lize pigs head, it goes along with that ethos. If an an­i­mal is go­ing to lose its life, no part of the an­i­mal should go to waste. That’s a big part of Al­sa­tian cook­ing and Ital­ian cook­ing. For the first course, I wanted to do a mix of Al­sa­tian style and Ital­ian style so the Testa was al­ready Ital­ian and Ital­ian cook­ing uses a lot of sweet and sour com­po­nents, which is also true for Al­sa­tian cook­ing with the Ger­man in­flu­ence. So I wanted to do the sweet and sour cher­ries and then for the main course, it was a sim­i­lar idea. We wanted to a trio of pork – the braised pork is kind of Al­sa­tian by brais­ing it in beer which is also com­mon in North­ern Ital­ian cook­ing. The po­lenta and green tomato sauce was a lit­tle sweet and a lit­tle sour. When you ate it, it didn’t feel forced there was enough of an over­lap be­tween the Al­sa­tian and Ital­ian cook­ing that it comes to­gether nat­u­rally. That’s what those dishes should feel like and if you do a lit­tle dig­ging into it – it makes sense his­tor­i­cally and the cus­tomer finds it en­joy­able, ac­cu­rate

and tra­di­tional.

AM: What was it like for you to cre­ate and work with these chefs through­out this se­ries?

CHEF AH: There have been dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. It’s in­ter­est­ing to see the chef’s dif­fer­ent styles and in­flu­ences. Like, Chef Marc For­gione’s in­flu­ence was a late night French Dip, but de­con­structed so there was a carpac­cio of dry aged rib eye and there was an au jus com­po­nent – there was a horseradish sour cream com­po­nent to it and it still felt nat­u­ral to­gether. But when you heard the story be­hind it, it was like cool that makes sense. Culi­nary-wise there is al­ways a dif­fer­ent tech­nique, so there was a dish with Chef Daniel Boulud that was made with clams and an­doulie which was very pop­u­lar. We did a pork belly with kim­chi that was

pretty suc­cess­ful – so it was in­ter­est­ing to see the tech­niques and some­times when we would get the recipes, they were more in­for­mal, where oth­ers were more pre­cise down to the gram. Over­all, it has been fun to learn about the chef’s his­tory, their in­spi­ra­tion for the dish and their style of cook­ing. In ev­ery one, there has been a dif­fer­ent learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

AM: For you dishes that you cre­ated, how did you go about de­cid­ing what it was go­ing to be and what in­gre­di­ents that you would be us­ing? Do most of them come from Eataly that can be pur­chased there?

CHEF AH: For the most part, yeah! I would say that when I do a dish, you can pur­chase the prod­ucts here at Eataly, but it also de­pends on the flow of the guest menu that the chef wants to do. If they want to do an an­tipasta, then maybe we do a pasta. If they want to do a pasta, then it doesn’t make sense for us to do a pasta for the four course tast­ing, so we will try to do an an­tipasta. The col­lab­o­ra­tion is al­ways the main course and it’s about find­ing that bal­ance and that the flow of the menu is nat­u­ral.

For this month, the whole menu had a coun­try feel to it. Chef Kreuther’s dish had the ap­ple cider braised rab­bit with saf­fron but­ter, so we liked this idea of re­fined rus­tic cook­ing, and I love Testa so I thought that would work and he loved it too. So we agreed on this dish which flowed well with the rab­bit and then for the main course, pork 3 ways was sim­ple and el­e­gant and con­tin­ued the sweet sour play.

When we did the col­lab­o­ra­tion with

Chef Ak­shay Bhard­waj from Junoon it was very nat­u­ral. We tried to in­cor­po­rate some thing that were very com­mon in In­dian cook­ing and in Ital­ian cook­ing. Nat­u­rally, you wouldn’t think that they would go to­gether, but we did a Saf­fron Risotto with yel­low lentils and lamb cooked two ways and this was re­ally suc­cess­ful and I liked the dish a lot. It was be­cause the lamb that we did, one part of it was Si­cil­ian style and the other way was an In­dian style where we had marsala and chili pep­pers and a lot of depth of fla­vor. We had Si­cil­ian style lamb belly was cooked with gar­lic and herbs. The risotto was ob­vi­ously Ital­ian, but with the saf­fron in there it had the In­dian ap­proach along with the yel­low lentils. When you ate it all to­gether, it didn’t feel forced, you just loved the taste play­ing well to­gether.

AM: Although this se­ries has come to an end, will there be an­other?

CHEF AH: I’m not sure. I mean, I know that the rest of the year maybe not, but per­haps next year. I know there is an Eataly launch­ing in Las Ve­gas so maybe this is some­thing that we could do there. It will be a new con­cept in Las Ve­gas so maybe get­ting peo­ple to be aware of this lo­ca­tion, they can bring in other chefs that are estab­lished in Las Ve­gas through this se­ries. Over­all, we loved the con­cept and I think that go­ing into the end of the year, we will be more fo­cused on truf­fles and get­ting our menu ready for the win­ter.

AM: How many times a year does the menu change at Manzo?

CHEF AH: Con­stantly ha! It’s an or­ganic thing. You change the menu based on sea­son­al­ity, avail­abil­ity, for ex­am­ple we re­cently took off sum­mer squash be­cause it’s fall and even though it’s a bit early to put win­ter squash on the menu, we can’t call out to sum­mer squash be­cause it’s not sum­mer. Tomato sea­son is wind­ing down so even though we love sell­ing heir­loom toma­toes and cap­rese, we can’t run it all year and it’s not true to the Ital­ian cook­ing phi­los­o­phy.

Some­things that are on the menu are main­stays and they don’t change too much like some of the steaks we have – it doesn’t go out of sea­son. But it’s the gar­nishes that might change and as we go into the win­ter, we want to make our menu more com­fort friendly, so tomato based pas­tas aren’t so friendly with truf­fles so we do more but­ter and cheese sauces be­cause it goes great with truf­fles. Just keep­ing the menu flex­i­ble for things like that is key.

AM: What are your fa­vorite dishes that you like to cre­ate at Manzo?

CHEF AH: Well that’s a tough ques­tion! I like do­ing some­thing that is tra­di­tional but a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. A good ex­am­ple of this is the lamb shank that’s on the menu right now. In the spring time in Italy, much like we do a bar­beque here in the US with a whole roasted pig on a spit, they will do lamb in the same way over an open fire. You eat it as soon as it comes off the fire. You dig into it when it is so hot that it burns your fin­gers and it’s so hot, but you eat it any way be­cause it is so de­li­cious. The dish trans­lates to “lamb that burns your fin­gers” – we do a ver­sion of that, but it’s not the whole lamb be­cause we’re not go­ing to sell a whole lamb. So we do lamb shanks and it’s mar­i­nated with white wine and olive oil, thyme, rose­mary, lemon zest and a lit­tle an­chovy. These are all tra­di­tional fla­vors and we slow cook the lamb for 24 hours and then we cool it down. When the cus­tomer or­ders it, we coat it with salt and sugar and we roast it so it gets crispy on the out­side and when you cut into it, it’s crunchy and juicy and falls off the bone. When you dig into it, it burns the roof of your mouth or your fin­ger­tips and it pays homage to the orig­i­nal. There's a story to it and

it’s kind of mod­ern­ized in a way that makes it ap­pro­pri­ate to sell into a restau­rant. You might sell 10 a day or 2, but if you cooked a whole lamb ev­ery­day, that wouldn’t be sus­tain­able.

AM: That sounds re­ally good – we’ll have to try it!

CHEF AH: Well you should come in soon as we’ll be tak­ing it off of the menu soon as it is more of a spring or sum­mer dish.

AM: Oh no!

CHEF AH: Re­al­is­ti­cally, we prob­a­bly could change the gar­nish on it to make it feel more win­tery, but the over­all story of eat­ing lamb in the spring or the sum­mer time out­side in the pi­azza where peo­ple gather around – is just like hav­ing a suck­ling pig for a bar­beque – you think of it as more of a sum­mery thing.

AM: Are you con­stantly think­ing of dif­fer­ent dishes and co­or­di­nat­ing with the som­me­lier as well as your pas­try chef?

CHEF AH: Yeah usu­ally for pas­try, there is some sort of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the party chef and my­self, but I try to leave Chef Re­becca to have more cre­ative free­dom there and just make sure that it is some­thing that we can ex­e­cute con­sis­tently. As far as com­ing up with a new menu, we work with Cen-

tral Kitchen. It’s like a group of chefs that over­see all restau­rants at Eataly. I’m the Chef at Manzo, but then there are a team of 5 chefs at Cen­tral Kitchen which over­sees all the restau­rants as an­other set of eyes. If we weren’t all un­der one roof like Chef Wolf­gang Puck who has 10 restau­rants, Wolf­gang isn’t in ev­ery restau­rant ev­ery day, but he has a trusted team of peo­ple he meets with I’m sure that make sure things are go­ing to plan, food costs are looked af­ter and that the menu makes sense. The same can be ap­plied here with our Cen­tral Kitchen, as they are not in ev­ery­day but they are mak­ing sure things are ok.

AM: How do you de­fine your cook­ing style and how does that marry with the ethos of Eataly?

CHEF AH: That’s a good ques­tion. I like sim­ple food that is well pre­pared. I like mak­ing some­thing that is the best ver­sion of some­thing that you have had be­fore. Like, find­ing what it is that peo­ple don’t like about food or some­thing that they could po­ten­tially like. A lot of peo­ple say that they don’t like mush­rooms and when I was younger, I had a lot of bad mush­room – just thrown on piz­zas with no sea­son­ing and they got squishy and it’s a tex­ture thing that grosses peo­ple out. I love mush­rooms now and what changes them is when you get them a lit­tle crispy and mix them with a lit­tle gar­lic and but­ter and thyme. There are only 3 or 4 in­gre­di­ents but it makes a lot of dif­fer­ence. Eg­g­plant is an­other one if you eat it and there isn’t enough salt and you roast it – again, it’s a tex­ture thing. If you get it a lit­tle bit crispy and roast it in a re­ally hot oven, a good amount of gar­lic and oregano – peo­ple will eat it and the hugest com­pli­ment to me is when peo­ple tell me that they don’t even like eg­g­plant but they ask me what I put in it to make it taste so good. I like to keep it sim­ple as you don’t need to throw the kitchen sink on eg­g­plant but if you find the right fla­vors to high­light it and to make sure the tex­ture is cor­rect – peo­ple can change their minds about it.

At home, I would say that I don’t cook strictly Ital­ian. I cook some dif­fer­ent things. The other day, I was kind of sick so I made some noo­dles with a lot of gar­lic, sesame oil and soy sauce – be­cause when I’m sick I want to eat a lot of gar­lic which is good for your im­mune sys­tem. That’s not tra­di­tional any­thing – just in­gre­di­ents that I like to cook with. My style is very sim­ple and fo­cuses on sea­son­al­ity and it matches up with Eataly be­cause our whole style of cook­ing is about pay­ing re­spect to the tra­di­tions of Ital­ian cook­ing.

AM: When you’re not cook­ing, how do you take time for your­self?

CHEF AH: I like watch­ing foot­ball a lot and now that it’s foot­ball sea­son, I’m very happy! I’m a Steel­ers fan. I like to go out with friends and it’s tough in the restau­rant busi­ness as we don’t all have the same time off. Usu­ally, when we get out of work at mid­night, we’ve been cook­ing all day so we want to eat now be­cause we haven’t all day. Some­times we’ll go out for late night drinks and to grab a bite and since we're close to Kore­atown, we go there as it’s open su­per late. A lot of peo­ple who don’t work in the in­dus­try are sur­prised that when we get out of work we don’t want to cook fancy food, we want com­fort food. Like a pot of rice and bul­gogi is great. Dif­fer­ent kim­chis and veg­eta­bles that are just stripped down and it’s not messed with too much. You want to be full and happy. I love Bon­chon late night with their fried chicken wings. We try to go out once a week to go to the bars which turns into go­ing to Kore­atown for some Hot Pot or Korean bar­beque. Late night tacos are a go to for me as I love Mex­i­can food.

If I have a day off, I’m just do­ing laun­dry and re­lax­ing. I’ll clean the house and if it’s on Sun­day, then I am go­ing to be a lazy couch potato and watch foot­ball!

Lis­ten to our full con­ver­sa­tion with Chef Adam Hill of Eataly Flat­iron on an up­com­ing episode of Ath­leisure Kitchen on Ath­leisure Stu­dio, our mul­ti­me­dia pod­cast net­work.

The best way to ex­plain the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a cook and a chef is that a cook is a player on the team, but when you are the chef, you have to be the coach and it's hard for some peo­ple to make that ad­just­ment be­cause when you're the chef, it's no longer about be­ing the best player it's about mak­ing sure that your play­ers are do­ing the best that they can an that your cooks are as well pre­pared as they can be.

PHOTO COUR­TESY | Eataly Flat­iron

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