Three Questions: Virginia Chef J Frank
J Frank is a gentle and thoughtful culinary maestro who seemed to have all the patience in the world as I picked his brains about a cuisine that was new to me when I arrived in Virginia some twenty years ago. J was a private chef when we met, after working in Germany and England, and then returning to cook in some of Richmond's top venues. Apart from being at ease with contemporary cuisine, J was embracing his culinary roots so to speak. Turning it all on its head using the freshest farm produce, barely cooked, clean on the palate, unfettered from the historically heavy fried southern fare. It was no less delicious, and unmistakable in its southern origin. I was so thrilled to eat this elevated version of the gutsy and hearty classics served up in the homey cafes and diners all over the South that I equally loved, like fatty pulled pork sandwiches, brunswick stews and creamy shrimp and grits.
J's spare time in Richmond was often spent cooking for various charitable fundraisers around town; it was a drawcard to have dinner cooked by Chef J Frank, and wealthy supporters of causes were happy to shell out big money to eat at his table.
Now relocated to upstate New York, J and his wife Danielle Francoise Goodreau, (also a noted chef) are busy, on the brink of opening a small cafe and market in a rural, beautiful part of the state, about 90 miles northeast of New York city. What one might call a sea change.....
Catching up with J by email, I asked him at the end to answer my Three Questions:
Secret naughty food obsession?
My secret food obsession is actually a beverage. What started as a carrot-pomegranate juice/ cocktail years ago has morphed into equal parts carrot, pomegranate and beet juice. It's very nourishing and makes me happy everytime I drink it.
Best thing you ate most recently?
My Brazilian friends have been introducing me to many different specialties lately. Several days ago they prepared their version of Coracao de Galinha. Chicken hearts that were sauteed with a little fresh garlic then served with cassava flour for dipping as well as sliced red onion and lime juice sprinkled
all over. Really amazing!
Never fail pantry ingredients?
There are many items in our pantry that we feel we can't live without.
Rao's Tomato Sauce. I can eat it right out of the jar!
KewPie Mayonnaise. The Japanese have perfected this product.
Turkish Baharat spice is quite addicting. I find it very difficult to roast chicken without it.
Sambal oelek and or Sriracha chili garlic seem to find their way into a lot of foods we eat.