Who: William Sullivan
Where: Construction site, the Bowery and East 4th Street
Occupation: Geotechnical engineer, foundation work
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
That’s going to be hard to say…My mom makes this chicken fricasse; she only makes it about twice a year, and when she does, she makes a lot, enough for two days. We had our big family party three weeks ago; my little sister, my nieces, my parents and I all got together and we had the chicken fricasse.
What do you like about that dish?
She makes it with spices and minced onion. It’s a little like barbecue, it’s a little sweet. And my mom always picks out the perfect chicken quarters. She marinates the chicken for 24 hours. That’s the best part—when you see it marinating in the fridge, you know it’s coming. And we always pick our own vegetables to go on the side, usually zucchini. We have a farm in Marbletown, New York, and I commute down here. The farm was my great-grandfather’s and we’ve kept it in the family.
What do you do?
I’m 4th generation construction. My great-grandfather helped build the Brooklyn Bridge. My grandfather worked with Robert Moses. My father was an engineer, and now I do foundation work for a geotechnical firm. That’s a relatively new term, it means we work with earth.
What do you grow on your farm?
We grow alfalfa, hay, corn for silage. It’s basically used to grow feed for our neighbor’s beef farm. We used to produce dairy for Dairylee, out of Boston. They’d come all the way down for our milk because they say the alfalfa that grows in the Hudson Valley makes the milk and cream sweeter.
Do you like to eat out anywhere in the city?
When we’re working, we call any local deli for sandwiches—whichever is fastest and has the best deals. I work around here quite a bit. But I’m not a big spender in restaurants.
What’s for dinner tonight?
Probably roast beef and potatoes.
Sounds good! Will you cook it?
No, my mom still likes to treat me like a baby! But I’ve got to water my 40 tomato plants every night when I get home. I’ve got all different varieties: heirlooms and beefsteaks and pear light salt cherries. My mom and dad like to have the low-salt tomatoes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2008