A few weeks ago I told you guys about my connection to Hamersley’s Bistro. Well, as I mentioned, Mr. Hamersley was kind enough to answer a number of questions via email…I wanted to learn as much as I could about the award winning chef before spending the day in his kitchen.
He’s cooked for the President of the United States and has won a James Beard award, ladies & gentleman, Gordon Hamersley. (Am I dreaming?)
Q & A
Has the recipe for your legendary roasted chicken changed in the last 26 years?
GH: The chicken has surely changed over the years but I’ve never changed it on purpose. We try to change the cook so that it stays fresh and thus many cooks have prepared it over the years. Remember, there are a certain number of people who come to Hamersley’s and never order anything but the chicken so we really have to be consistent with the dish. It’s actually fun to do one thing over and over the same way. It has tradition, a story, and people know when it’s not quite right.”
Hamersley’s Bistro received a Best of Boston award just after its’ first year in business. How has HB maintained it’s notability in one of the toughest industries?
GH: For me…I feel that having one restaurant that I work at everyday is what has kept us focused and good at what we do. That said, I am never content and I’m always workong either to teach and maintain our standards or make things fresh and new and better than before
Was there ever a time you felt you were losing momentum?
GH: I hope not! We try to create momentum by changing things all the time. We do 4-6 new menus per year and this creates an inner sense of movement forward. When I can’t come up with new ideas (given the style and context of how I cook in general) then it might get stale…but I can feel that very fast and I work at change again. The team at Hamersley’s has stayed very consistent over the years and so we are always aware that we need to stay fresh…the inner core of people inspire each other to be creative.
Did you create a special menu for President Obama’s visit?
GH: For President Obama, we had the entire menu available to him plus a tenderloin of beef, alaskan salmon and a burger. I was told he had very conservative tastes and was pretty sure he wasn’t going to order say…the rabbit with persian spices…he ended up having the grass fed beef with local asparagus, potatoes, and a french style red wine sauce. No dessert. He eats desserts only on Saturdays!
Thoughts on the current trend: Pop Up restaurants?
GH: I like all the new trends…pop up sure…I love the food trucks! Fiona and I actually almost did one back in 1987 instead of the restaurant…I just wanted to drive around and cook wherever it looked like a good crowd. (Little did I know you can’t do that!!) but I do have a whole little business plan for a truck a la 1987.
If you weren’t a chef, you’d be…
GH: Hmm, many things. I like to train my hunting dogs…music, if I could play! I always thought I’d be a good photo journalist. I like telling stories. So if I could write I would…all these are similar to cooking in restaurants in many ways really.
Where does your inspiration come from?
GH: I usually ask myself, “What do I feel like eating tonight?” when thinking about new menu stuff. I do have a style of cooking which does not change much but sometimes I come up with a truly new idea for me and other times I do a variation on themes. I often try to think like a country French housewife…what would she cook for her family? Then I make it work for Hamersley’s.
Two ingredients you couldn’t live without?
GH: Garlic and salt…I kinda like butter too…
If you’re in the Boston area, make sure to stop by Hamersley’s Bistro for an unforgettable experience. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed.
Stay tuned for my post about my day in the kitchen with GH & his staff!
Disclosure: I did not receive anything for this post…just bragging rights 😉