| October 19, 2015 | Food & Drink
California-based chef Michael Fiorelli of Love & Salt is in New York this week for his James Beard dinner series. We chat with the chef on his favorite restaurant in the city, what he thinks New York is missing, and why he wants to grab dinner with Eric Ripert.
Chef Michael Fiorelli.
As the driving force behind his Manhattan Beach-based resto, Love & Salt, chef Michael Fiorelli exudes California cool with respectable seriousness when it comes to cooking classic Italian cuisine. Growing up on Long Island and holding several jobs at restaurants for years, Fiorelli didn't transcend the industry until his time at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Fast forward to present day, and Fiorelli continues working with the same determination and vigor that has catapulted him to the forefront of the culinary scene.
Before he cooks dinner at James Beard House on October 22 (tickets $130 members; $170 nonmembers on jamesbeard.org), we asked the chef to share his favorite restaurants in the Big Apple, what food is truly missing in New York City, and why he wants to have dinner with Eric Ripert.
What is your favorite place to eat in New York and what do you order there?
MICHAEL FIORELLI: Charlie Bird. I usually let chef Ryan Hardy choose for me, but I do make sure that I eat every one of the pastas when I'm there.
In your opinion, who is a rising-star chef to watch in New York?
MF: I'm a big fan of chef Nick Anderer at Danny Meyer's Maialino and Marta restaurants. He's creative, progressive, and thoughtful, but at the same time he respects the ingredients and tradition. I suspect we're going to see more big things from this guy in the near future.
If you could have dinner with any New York chef, dead or alive, who would it be?
MF: Eric Ripert. The guy has held down Le Bernardin for 21 years and is still pulling three Michelin stars. He's one of the few top New York chefs that I have not met. Aside from being extremely skilled and knowledgeable, he seems to have a great outlook on life, food, people, and business. He seems like a cool guy who would be fun to share a meal with—and a couple of bottles of rosé, of course.
What New York City neighborhood do you think has the best food scene?
MF: That's a tough one. That's the thing about New York, you can't turn the corner without stumbling across a great restaurant. I have to say for concentration of great casual spots, the West Village takes the prize. You've got The Spotted Pig, Babbo, La Perla, Pearl Oyster Bar, EN Japanese Brasserie, Tertulia, Minetta Tavern, The Little Owl, Sushi Nakazawa , L'Artusi, Buvette, Barbuto, Big Gay Ice Cream, Murray's Cheese, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Empellon Taqueria... I could go on all day—and they are all blocks from each other.
What are you most looking forward to about the James Beard Foundation event?
MF: Feeling the energy of New York City. Visiting with the city's chefs, enjoying the restaurants, the Union Square Market, and, of course, the extraordinary honor and privilege of cooking in the legendary house that has hosted so many culinary luminaries through the years. It's truly humbling to take part in such a special event.
What kind of food does New York need more of?
MF: Well ours, of course. Aside from that, New York is the one city in the world that truly has everything for everyone. Coming from LA though, the one thing you don't see out here are the street tacos. It's like what pizza is in New York. It's on every corner and even if it's bad, it's still pretty good.
1 pound baby carrots with carrot tops intact
2 tablespoons olive oil
Carrot top pesto (recipe below)
Carrot Top Pesto
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrot tops, finely chopped
1/2 cup preserved lemon, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted garlic
1 1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Trim carrot tops at the stem and reserve for use in the pesto. Scrub the carrots clean, leaving the peel and ends intact. Arrange carrots in an even layer on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until brown and caramelized (approximately 20 minutes), stirring once halfway through.
While the carrots are roasting, prepare the carrot top pesto. Combine ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together until ingredients are fully integrated.
To plate, spoon the whipped ricotta on the bottom of your serving platter. Arrange the carrots over the top and finish with the carrot top pesto. (Note: You will have extra pesto left over for additional uses.)
photography by Andrea Bricco (fiorelli); Aliza J. Sokolow (carrots)