This week, we debut another new column for the print edition of the Voice, Family Meal. Basically, I decided to invite myself to some restaurants for free meals. Well, that sounds worse than it is. I’ve been curious about staff meals ever since my own days as a restaurant employee, when I had to rely on my feminine charms to get the cooks to make me something better than steamy leftovers that were hauled out at 4pm every day.
In Daniel Boulud’s book, Braise, he talks about being inspired by dishes made by cooks from around the world. These were meals prepared not for paying diners, but for the servers, busboys, and other cooks. I loved the fact that he was so taken with the home-cooking of his various employees, and that so many of the dishes were united by the braising method. Obviously, I’d love to eat at Daniel, but the meals consumed by bar-backs sound just as interesting to me as the the ones on the menu.
A few months back I had a chat with Andrew Tarlow, who co-owns Bonita, Marlow & Sons, and Diner, about the family meals at Bonita. Most of the cooks there are Mexican women, and their home-cooking for staff-meals sometimes run as specials on the menu, with varying success. (These are often the lesser-known portions of the pig, which the restaurant sometimes buys whole.)
I still want to eat with them, but first, Tarlow thought I should hang with his staff at Marlow and Sons. I’ll be horning in elsewhere soon, so stay tuned for behind-the-scenes meals at all kinds of establishments.
Family meal recommendations, as well as translating services, are welcome.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 26, 2007