With such an intricate and evolving menu at Columbia Room, how do you keep things fresh and innovative each season?
It’s pretty simple, really: We just try and pull the thread on weird, interesting, and challenging ideas we have. We try to surprise ourselves and chase things that we’re unfamiliar with. A big part of what we do with the tasting menu is pass on the sense of discovery we felt with certain ingredients, techniques, and drinks to our guests. Also, always write down inspiration and ideas. The oddest, most hare-brained concept can pop into your head at any moment, and you had better record it, because you never know when it might come in handy.
Which aspect of your career is the most rewarding?
I’m not going to lie, some of the perks of my particular job are amazing -- trips to far-flung corners of the country and globe, access to the best spirits, wines, beers, and food in the world -- but there are two aspects of this business that I treasure above all. One is the pleasure of having a guest lose themselves at the bar for a while and take pure, simple joy in something new that they drank, ate, or learned. The second is the camaraderie of our industry. This is an intense, stressful, and draining job, and the friendships and connections you make with your colleagues are forged in fire and battle-hardened.