Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook FearlesslyBy Dan Kluger Intro: Welcome to the number one cookbook podcast, Cookery by the Book with Suzy Chase. She's just a home cook in New York City, sitting at her dining room table talking to cookbook authors.Dan Kluger: I'm Dan Kluger, and we are talking about my new cookbook called Chasing Flavor.Suzy Chase: If you enjoy Cookery by the Book please tell a friend I'm always looking for new people to enjoy the podcast. Now on with the show. You are the quintessential New York chef, you've worked under and alongside some of the great names in the restaurant world. Danny Meyer, Jean-Georges, Tom Colicchio, and Floyd Cardoz who we lost to COVID in April. Can you talk a little bit about how all of these guys influenced your cooking style?Dan Kluger: I started in the front of the house at Danny Meyer's Union Square Cafe and had really no idea that I would someday become a chef. I was really just spending my days off in the kitchen to learn a little about what goes on back there in the hopes that it would become an owner someday. I should know what goes on. And Michael Romano, who was the chef at Union Square Cafe at the time ended up offering me a job. So I started, I think it was back in 1995 as a prep cook, just peeling potatoes and frying calimari and cleaning salad greens. And it was an eye opening experience to begin with. But, you know, really taught me about the basics of food. It taught me about the basics of production of food, and it opened my eyes to some incredible Italian food. When, when Michael Romano was cooking his Italian food, it was not always you know, what we think of as Italian food. It was from areas all over Italy and he would hone in on something really specific. And so there's a lesson to go with it, which I really loved as a young cook. So, you know, I got a little taste of, of, uh, cooking, a little taste of food and flavorful food and great products from the farmer's market all while working at a place that I had originally worked in front of the house. And so I was tied to hospitality and it was tied to taking care of people. I think that really kind of spawned the interest in this for me and specifically the interest in not just cooking, but cooking to really make people happy and, and bring the whole experience. So that was my time at Union Square Cafe and towards the end of it I was really fortunate enough to be friend Floyd Cardoz who was working out of Union Square Cafe as he was building Tabla and doing menu tastings and his food was incredible. And, uh, you know, at that time it was kind of like nothing else. And Michael Romano was also a huge fan of Indian food so they shared a love for it. I think that's in part why Tabla became Tabla. I didn't grow up eating Indian food and I didn't grow up really with really any ethnic food other than going out for Chinese food and once a month with my parents, so it was really an eye opening experience and a great opportunity. And through that, I ended up going with Floyd to open Tabla and I worked actually alongside him for seven years. And again, like just every day was a learning experience, both in the culture behind the Indian food and the flavors of Indian food and then because this was not just your average Indian restaurant and it was really American and French techniques with Indian spices. I learned so much about technique and building flavor and so I would really credit Floyd as having started my taste buds and my love for this balance of flavor. That's something we talk a lot about in the book I've talked about throughout my career. And, uh, after seven years there, I went off to work with Tom Colicchio on a private club in Midtown. He was a consulting chef and he hired me as a chef and so now going to work for him, I was able to really hone my skills on what I consider American food and what I consider my food today. And then from there I met Jean-Georges and decided to go work with him. I opened a couple different projects for him, but ultimately ended up becoming the chef of ABC Kitchen, which opened, I guess it was 2009, 2010, somewhere in there, and was really based on farm to table nothing could be from further than 150 miles with the exception of our olive oil and our lemons and things like that. So I was able to really polish and hone my skills on flavor using these products and under his tutelage and within this incredible setting of a brand new restaurant. And then I opened Loring Place back in 2016. And here we are today with, with Chasing Flavor. It's a culmination of all those experiences tied into a book that I want it to act as a way for people to become more comfortable with both flavor building techniques, whether it's charring or roasting or smoking, as well as comfortable and confident in terms of building a pantry that they can use with all sorts of different products to create these really flavorful meals.Suzy Chase: Okay. Before we talk about Chasing Flavor, I have to tell you a funny, kind of New Yorky tidbit. I remember when chef Cardoz opened Tabla in 1998, and I could only afford to go to The Bread Bar downstairs, but it was amazing. It was the less expensive alternative. You kind of got a little bit of what was going on upstairs and the onion rings were amazing.Dan Kluger: Yes, they were, yes they were. Yeah. It was an incredible restaurant again, you know the right place, the right time to launch Indian inspired concept that really could speak to lots of different people, whether it was through The Bread Bar, which was this home-style Indian kind of street food menu or upstairs, which was, kind of the crème de la crème of ingredients and techniques to showcase these Indian spices.Suzy Chase: So the month that Loring Place opened, I had Mimi Sheraton on my podcast. And since she's a neighborhood gal, I asked her what her favorite restaurant was and she said, Loring Place. And I was like, what? What's that? And she said, "Oh, it's on eighth street. It's my favorite restaurant." And I was like, oh my gosh, I have to check it out. And so let me just talk about where it's located. So it's located in Greenwich village on eighth street, practically across the street from Electric Lady studios and for the longest time eighth street wasn't, shall I say, the most desirable street? And I feel like you made the street, what it is today. How did you discover that location?Dan Kluger: I don't think I made it what it is today, but I was certainly able to be a, I guess, a big part of, um, it's change and what it's become today, but really I would give the credit to my friends who own Eighth Street Wine Cellar, which is right across the street from me. And they've been around, I think, uh, 14 years now. And I used to come down here a lot after work. And so for me the street was kind of become home. And then probably about seven, eight years ago, uh, The Marlton which is a nice hotel that opened up on the corner and I think really helped Stumptown coffee. And so just through those two places and, and the wine bar, I think we started to see a change in the street, New York in general, started to get a little bit cleaned up from the riff raff that was on that street before and we came in you know, right time before too many restaurants around the block and I was really excited to be part of a neighborhood that I like and a block that I had already seen a bunch of growth on and now be part of its continued growth.Suzy Chase: So I feel like the majority of your career has been centered around the Union Square Greenmarket. Can you share some of your shopping strategies for going to any green market? Like, do you come with a list? Do you have the route mapped out before you get there? Or do you just walk from one end to the other, which is what I do?Dan Kluger: It's all of the above. We're shopping for the restaurant there's obviously a list. What do we know we need? And if we need 10 flats of tomatoes to get us through the weekend, we will probably, pre-order five of them from one of our favorite farmers. And then we'll spend the rest of the time walking around finding the other five so that we kind of distribute amongst other farmers and we're able to pick up tomatoes and taste them as we go. In terms of restaurant, that's a big part of it, but it was not as targeted as that. If I'm not shopping for the restaurant, I'm shopping more for menu development or for myself, then it's really more a matter of I like to walk through with really open-mind looking for whether it's something new or something that I didn't really expect to pick up and cook with, but was sort of inspired at that moment.Suzy Chase: You believe that every recipe should leave us with something beyond a tasty dish. Can you talk a little bit about your takeaways?Dan Kluger: Every recipe as you said, has something called the takeaway .The takeaway could be that this chili sesame condiment is great on the arctic char, but it can also be used not for a raw fish dish. You can braise tomatoes in it and serve it with poached halibut, or the takeaway could be something as simple as, you know, how we cook our parmesan croutons and that's something that, again, they're, they're there for a specific soup, but they can also be used on a salad, or it could be about how we marinate something or how we roast something to get enough caramelization on it that, you know, something like a brussel sprout is still creamy, but now it's crunchy. It's got a little bitterness, it's got extra sweetness from that caramelization. So again, the idea is that we're giving you the confidence to use these skills, whether it's the key ingredient or a full dish.Suzy Chase: So normally you write a recipe for the kitchen staff, how much tweaking did you have to do for us home cooks in this cookbook?Dan Kluger: There's certainly some where we simplified them a little bit, maybe a restaurant recipe, we make an herb oil that has to hang overnight and was a little more time consuming and expensive and in this case we just chopped herbs. So the idea behind any recipe that's in there is still that dish at its best.Suzy Chase: You talk about elderflower syrup in this cookbook, which is one of your secret ingredients for salad dressings.Dan Kluger: We used a lot at ABC, but I grew up every summer going to England and elderflower is a big thing there and I remember my grandmother having this bottle of syrup and kind of fell in love with it at a very young age and at ABC, I really kind of learned the versatility of it and started using it in lots of different things from hot sauces to, to vinaigrettes.Suzy Chase: So I grew up in Kansas and corn was everywhere, but I only learned about a corn zipper on page 11 of your cookbook. Where have I been?Dan Kluger: You know I fell in love with the corn zipper many years ago and just found that it's a little bit easier and cleaner than just using a knife, but obviously a knife works really well.Suzy Chase: I need a corn zipper in my life. So let's go back to that magical day in 1995, when you were a student at Syracuse in the food service program, and you were asked to show a special guest around campus.Dan Kluger: I owe the credit to gentlemen named Leon Genet. His children went there and I think he may have even gone there. And so he had an auditorium named after his wife and a lecture series that he sponsored and he used to bring all these different people up to speak, whether it was the CEO of Macy's or Tommy Hilfiger or in this case, Danny Meyer. And Leon and I had kind of hit it off at an early stage of my time at Syracuse. And he said, I got Danny coming, Danny's great I want you to show him around and we set it up and I attended the lunch with Danny and then we took him for a walk around Syracuse campus and we took them to the Carrier Dome and up in bright lights was welcomed Danny Meyer. And we kind of hit it off and after that, I applied to Union Square Cafe to be a summer intern.Suzy Chase: That's a crazy story.Dan Kluger: Yeah. I lucked outSuzy Chase: Totally well, no, you made it happen. You made the magic happen.Dan Kluger: You know, I think I've talked about this other people for when I've said, you know, I lucked out or I was lucky, then they said, no, no, no, you, you made it you've you you've made these things happen and I think I've made things happen and I've used my opportunities to make the best of them. And I certainly not just been handed a silver spoon at the same token. I got very lucky with these things. I got lucky in meeting Danny. I got lucky in meeting Floyd and I got lucky in meeting Tom. I got very lucky in meeting Jean-Georges and you know, those things, I, I truly believe are luck I mean, I worked my tail off to get to those places, but if I hadn't met any of those people, you know who knows where I'd be today. So I do think luck does have something to do with it.Suzy Chase: This cookbook teaches us some new cooking techniques. So why should we use a wire rack when roasting vegetables?Dan Kluger: So the wire rack sometimes called an icing grate, goes on a normal sheet tray is really great for roasting vegetables because you toss the vegetables in some oil you put on top, and as it goes into a hot oven, the hot air of the oven is not only cooking the top of the vegetables and the sides that are exposed, but because it's on the rack it's going underneath and cooking the bottom of them whereas if you just had them on a tray or on a piece of parchment, they're actually going to steam in part. So this, this makes them become, depending on what you're cooking and how you're cooking it. I kind of refer to it as like raisinating them and it starts to dry them out a little bit and intensifies them and that's what I really like about it is you can take something like a butternut squash and roast it on there, and I just find it, it takes more moisture out and it just makes it more naturally intense.Suzy Chase: That's so smart because there's nothing worse than one side that's kind of crispy and caramelized and nice. And the other side is just kind of like wet and goopy a little bit.Dan Kluger: Yep. Exactly. That's what we're trying to avoid.Suzy Chase: I made your recipe for Heirloom Tomato Toast on page 39. And it took me back to the Union Square Cafe days. Can you describe this recipe?Dan Kluger: Yeah. So it's funny that you talked about Union Square you know, every season we had the tomato bruschetta, uh, where we just took ripe tomatoes and tossed them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and garlic, and put on toasted bread. I thought it was great, obviously very simple, but for me, it was just a little too simple. It was always missing something. And so at one point I decided to make this heirloom toast where I bought, obviously some of the best tomatoes you could find, but then took the toast and rather just grill it we actually toast it with parmesan so you get this crunchy layer parmesan on it, but it makes this like really great layer to put the tomatoes on it, lots of flavor and then we build the tomatoes up. They're sprinkled with salt and olive oil. And what actually happens is they, they leach out a little bit of their liquid. The bread has been toasted, so it's a little bit dry and can take the liquid. And so now you have this like parmesan bread with soft tomatoes and the bread is starting to soak up some of that juice. And so it just to me becomes an incredible flavored toast.Suzy Chase: Now to my segment called Last Night's dinner, where I ask you what you had last night for dinner.Dan Kluger: I made vegan ramen last night. I built this broth by really caramelizing, deep caramelize, the onions and garlic and ginger, and then add it in miso, which is really one of my favorite products and some Korean chili paste and tomato paste and even some vegetable Marmite basically cooked all that together and then finished it with soy and vinegar and all these things by making this really flavorful base. You wouldn't have known that there's no pork fat in there. I mean it was like still really jammy and rich, just like if it was a deep, normal ramen base. So again, it's, to me, it's always about building flavor in stages.Suzy Chase: Before we wrap it up. I want you to tell us about your Thanksgiving dinner kit at Loring Place. It looks delicious and I'm going to order one for my family.Dan Kluger: Awesome. It's all of my favorites, obviously turkey and then we take the breasts we cook that separately, the legs we braise and we bake into an incredible pot pie and then we have roasted spiced acorn squash, we have roasted brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, which has, you know, this sort of Tabla Indian note to it, then stuffing and then last but not least a gravy that I've been making for years with Apple Jack Brandy and apple cider. So you can have dinner on the table and probably a half hour with not a whole lot of work.Suzy Chase: I'll say hey, look what I made everyone. They'll say, this is delicious. Where can we find you on the web social media and your restaurant here in the village?Dan Kluger: Website is firstname.lastname@example.org. Social media is Dan_Kluger, LoringPlaceNYC,on social media, as well as our new restaurant opening this December called Penny Bridge LIC and then both of them are PennyBridgelic.com and LoringPlacenyc.com.Suzy Chase: Thanks so much Dan, for coming on Cookery by the Book podcast.Dan Kluger: Thank you. It really a pleasure talking to you.Outro: Subscribe over on CookerybytheBook.com. And thanks for listening to the number one cookbook podcast, Cookery by the Book.