On December 10th, Jarry was thrilled to present Savor the Season, a benefit dinner put on in partnership with and for GMHC. Hosted by the celebrated writer, bon vivant, and fashion commentator Simon Doonan, the centerpiece of the evening was the fresh, seasonal fare of chef and author Steven Satterfield. Satterfield is traveled up to New York from his hometown of Atlanta. We sat down with him before the dinner to discuss his projects and inspirations, and what to anticipate at Savor the Season.
In your book Root to Leaf, you write about how cooking locally and seasonally is inspiring rather than constraining. Where does the misperception about that come from? How do home cooks begin to adopt your approach?
The beauty of working with fresh produce is that there are less hard rules about cooking them which allows for more creativity and leeway. Often one vegetable could be experienced raw, blanched, sautéed, roasted, fried or pickled and all yield delicious results. Additionally, because most of the recipes in Root to Leaf are easy to execute and simple, seeing the outcome creates an "a-ha" moment for the reader, initiating "I never knew radishes could taste so good" or "who knew Brussels sprouts could be so easy to prepare" kind of moments.
If you were to cook locally and seasonally in another city or geographical region, where would that be?
I've had the great fortune to cook in Sonoma for the past three summers and I love that area. The produce is insane and there are so many micro-climates that it's like having 3 seasons in one! I also love to cook with other chefs that understand their regional resources and utilize them in everyday cooking. It's always a learning experience to share ideas and compare the foods of our regions.
Similar to our Issue 1 cover guy Blake Bashoff, who was an actor before switching to a career in food, you used to be in the band Seely before becoming a chef. Does food satisfy a similar creative itch that music does?
Not only did I play music but I also studied architecture. Both of these experiences were big influences on who I am today. They both require creative process, lots of time and energy and working with your hands as a craft. The same definitely applies to cooking.
Having worked for Scott Peacock, the acclaimed American chef who's gay (and at that point at Watershed, owned by Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls!), you're no stranger to LGBTQ people in the kitchen. Do you find that being gay informs your approach to food at all? Have you seen any changes during your career, with regard to more chefs and kitchen staff being out?
It's not uncommon to work alongside lesbian women in professional kitchens. They have been trailblazers for decades. It is less common to come across gay men. Much like the military ranks, kitchens have mostly been dominated by straight dudes, but as our society evolves, I see more diversity in the back of the house of restaurants. There is also so much less discrimination than in the past. I think the advantage of being gay and cooking is that you can be in touch with both the masculine and feminine sides of food and having that ability to toggle can make you a more well rounded cook.
What's inspiring you at Miller Union right now? What can guests at Savor the Season look forward to?
I love cooking in the fall! Be prepared for a lot of fresh produce on the table highlighting the best that the season has to offer.
Photo of Steven by Heidi Gledhauser.