Cook, educator and activist Andrew Gerson is the house chef at the Brooklyn Brewery. He is a graduate of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, a member of Slow Food and a supporter of local food systems. He is currently touring with the traveling food festival, The Brooklyn Brewery Mash. If you ordered the Roast Chicken, Steak with Carrot Citrus Hash, or Shrimp with Panzanella you are cooking his recipes this week!
Q: What made you want to become a chef? Was there an element of your family life growing up that led to this career choice?
A: When I was younger my mother worked evenings and I would cook for my sister, Leigh, and myself. It started off as dishes left to reheat and then slowly I took over and began cooking and experimenting. I was raised in a secular Jewish household where the table was the center of our universe and food was an extremely important part of our lives. The table was where we laughed, yelled, screamed, cried and shared our experiences together while breaking bread. Food has always played an integral role in my life as a form of communication and expression. I wanted to become a chef because I thought it was cool. I had worked as a busboy and a waiter starting around 15 and was always mesmerized by the kitchen – plus, I thought it was a cool way to impress girls (as my girlfriend can attest, it still is).
Q: What’s the best cooking advice you’ve ever received?
A: Keep your workspace clean and organized, but have fun and be creative.
Q: Who or what is behind your culinary inspiration?
A: My mother, nature, local farmers and producers.
Q: What are three tools you can’t live without while cooking a meal?
A: Chef’s knife, pincers, side towels.
Q: What ingredient are you most willing to splurge on?
A: Local mushrooms and craft beer.
Q: What’s one budget item that should be on every home gourmet’s grocery list?
A: Sesame oil.
Q: What is the best dish you’ve ever made?
A: Ask my girlfriend, sister or mother – I am way too critical of my own food.
Q: Is there a chef you really admire or look up to?
A: There are many, but I would say Chris Shepherd of Underbelly (Houston) and Landon Shoenefeld of Haute Dish (Minneapolis) because they have fostered some of the most creative and driven kitchen crews I have ever worked with. Harnessing the passion of their cooks, creating amazing food and an atmosphere conducive to learning expression and the pursuit of deliciousness. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those guys.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to an amateur chef?
A: Buy great local ingredients and cook them simply, respect your ingredients and you can make great food. Serve your meal with good friends and great beer.
– Emma Stratigos