My wife and I make a good balance as we think very differently about how to approach day to day operations. She is much more practical and action oriented, which I appreciate very much. In her mind, most everything could and should have been done yesterday. I, too, like results, but for some reason, deep in my DNA, appears to be etched a need to answer the “why” questions first. I want to be clear on why I am doing a particular activity before I throw myself into it fully.

As we come up on our third anniversary, and as I involve new staff, I have been reviewing some of the reasons behind how our restaurant works. At the foundational level, I have summarized what I believe the food at bread&cup represents. Simply stated, my food is:

“Handmade with Midwestern ingredients and a European influence”

Handmade

We make everything from scratch, if we didn’t, it wouldn’t be our food. Why do I want to serve you something that a machine stamped out by the millions in a large industrial, commercial kitchen? If someone else makes it, it’s not our food.

This may seem obviously elementary, but if you could pull back the curtain on many of your favorite corporate franchises, you would find very little cooking going on. Instead you would find a system that has been dumbed down and recorded in a manual that can be executed by an employee without possessing much skill or thought. What’s really going on in that kitchen is heating and plating. Making your food by hand allows us to rely on cooking fundamentals and actually cook your food

Midwestern ingredients

I will favor a local product whenever possible. I have worked diligently to source all of my beef, pork, and chicken from local farmers. I now have a supply of game at my disposal (rabbit, quail, and duck) and hopefully by this fall, my turkey will come from a local source.

This is why you don’t see fish on my menu. Here in Nebraska, we are about as far from the coasts as we can get, and by the time that lobster or scallop gets here, the cost goes up, and the quality goes down. And with so much other good available protein, I don’t need it.

Seasonal vegetables will always be front and center on my menu during growing season. Turnips or beets might not be your first choice as a vegetable, but since they are in their prime right now, I will try to present them in their most flavorful form.

I will make a deal with you. If am serving a vegetable with which you have a problem, like kohlrabi, or fennel, or turnips or kale; please try it. If you still don’t like it, I’ll bring you something else. The flavors of vegetables are best experienced in season with simple preparation

European influence

With a country as young as ours, and with so many cultural influences by founding immigrants, American food is at best an amalgam of these factors. Your favorite dishes most likely are a form of some kind of ethnic source different from your own that made its way here long ago. The same is true with the food I serve at bread&cup

I love the French for their breads, their use of sauces and for their disciplined cooking techniques. Knowing what a brunoise or julienne is standard information that can lead to better prepared food. The pastas of Italy are so simple, but so versatile to work with. The Spanish idea of tapas and small plates make sense to me, and thus this finds its way on my menu.

I appreciate the aspect of slower preparation and slower consumption. Americans tend to look at a menu in isolation, without thought of the rest of the party with whom we are dining. I don’t expect to create a revolution, but I do like pointing out to customers that our menu is designed to avoid the question, “what will I eat” and instead ask “what will we eat?”

How would you describe your food?

One thought on “How would you describe your food?

  • June 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm
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    Hi Kevin,

    I've recently caught up on your blog (I am the fellow lover of A Very Small Farm). I am sorry to hear of your wife's illness – I wish her strength, peace and healing.

    Your post makes me want to road-trip from Chicago to eat at your restaurant.

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