Ocean Farms & Better Burgers

Shout outs here. First, as a Connecticut boy myself, I say with some homestate pride that this is the coolest thing to come out of the state in my lifetime. Mr. Smith, our hats are tipped to you. Click the image above to see what he is doing.  Great stuff.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.17.53 AMNext, take a look at Mr. Headley’s creation by clicking the image to the right, a place which we first read about here; and then again more recently here. The reason both of these came to my attention today, and why I am compelled to share these links, is worthy of 20 minutes of your time if you care about food-related sustainability issues. For that, in the form of a podcast, click here. A summary of the podcast:

Seaweed is one of the world’s most sustainable and nutritious crops. Bren Smith, owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm, one of the first sustainable 3D ocean farms in the United States, and chef Brooks Headley, former pastry chef at Del Posto and current owner of Superiority Burger, will tell us how delicious and versatile seaweed can be, and explain how it’s grown and harvested.

If that all has your attention, one more story you might enjoy about Mr. Headley is here:

When you flip open a cookbook called “Fancy Desserts,” you don’t expect to find a photograph of two elephants mating.

You don’t expect to find expletive-peppered punk-rock fliers. Or an image of sugar being heated up on a spoon like heroin. Or a recipe for candied carrots in which purple, yellow and orange greenmarket delights are shown lying side by side with a roll of Life Savers and a Zagnut bar.

“This recipe is inspired in part by the Looney Tunes episode where Bugs Bunny buys carrots out of a vending machine,” writes Brooks Headley, the author of “Fancy Desserts,” which will be published in October.

HEADLEY-master180Mr. Headley is the pastry chef at Del Posto in Manhattan, the most formal of the restaurants in the Mario Batali empire. So it might come as a surprise when readers turn to Page 29 and dip into a tribute to the scabrous punk band the Dead Kennedys, followed by a disquisition on the influence of the New Nordic cuisine of Noma in Copenhagen, capped off by a snapshot of two cute green Gummi Bears who seem to be gearing up for hand-to-hand combat.

Oh, and the header at the top of that page? “Sugared Green Strawberries With Toasted Fennel Cake, Candied Fennel and Mint Gelato.”

Pretty soon a few questions come to mind: Who is this Brooks Headley person, and how did he ever get a job at a four-star restaurant? (And is he the same fellow who’s behind Superiority Burger, that veggie-burger pop-up that had hungry customers clogging a New York sidewalk? Answer: yes, same guy. We’ll get to that.)

Mr. Headley, who is 42 and having something of a moment in New York food circles, might be even more taken aback by his circumstances than you are. Although he won a national James Beard award last year for Outstanding Pastry Chef, he doesn’t think of himself as a pastry chef. “He doesn’t even like that term,” said Mark Ladner, the executive chef at Del Posto.

Those rococo, spun-sugar, Mousetrap-style sculptures that look like candied swans and vampire castles and space stations? The ones that shatter into thousands of heartbreaking pieces in the documentary “Kings of Pastry”?

Read the whole review here.

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