Monday, October 22, 2012

New Gatherers Cuisine

New Gatherers Cuisine is a term that I came up with while talking to a highly respected food loving friend of mine.  Because he believes my food to be "post-modern," or different than what has been done, and that it largely focuses on the land he suggested that I along with another out west are just a few in the United States to be doing cuisine such as this.  There is a food movement in the Nordic regions called New Nordic Cuisine.  He had said we were following in those footsteps so I said then I suppose we should coin the name for it here, thus after a few names being thrown out there, New Gatherers Cuisine was what we settled on.  While we don't have the actual manifesto written nor do we have the funding as they did for it truly to be a movement I think this is a lovely time for this focus considering it's become less and less taboo to eat foraged foods as people are largely becoming more conscious of what they eat and much more knowledgeable.  I grew up foraging and was use to cooking found mushrooms, cracking gathered nuts, so for me it seemed completely reasonable to have it incorporated into the cooking I did for others.  I also grew up in a house where mostly everything we consumed was from our garden, my mother constantly processing foods for the winter.  My favorite she said was peaches from our tree that she canned with simple syrup.  Our pantry was wall to wall Ball Mason jars.  I think it is Maya Angelou that says something to the effect, you don't have to go further than your own backyard to tell a good story.  This is also true I think for the story of food.  So I do gather some of our cuisine,  I preserve a large amount of the gathered and farmed cuisine, other gatherers or foragers and hunters work with me, and we are highlighting as best we can some of those items.  They are gathered, far and wide as well as close but rural, and all from lands were they can be rightly collected.  We serve what we know.  We preserve what we can.  But this is not all we do.  This is just one facet of Elizabeth Restaurant.  We use local and/or organic produce, serve antibiotic/hormone free meats,  cure, salt, and pickle our own items.  We tried to remain as sustainable and local as possible.  We know exactly what we are going to serve each week to our guests so that we have as little waste as possible. We are and intend to be as earth conscious as possible.  We are still a work in progress as we navigate our best avenues.
However, New Gatherers Cuisine has a larger meaning to me, to us.  It has always been that fine dining establishments have a flair of pretense, stuffiness, and separation by space.  We've purposefully eliminated all of those elements.  I wanted to open a restaurant that was all of who I am, all of who Elizabeth was.  The gathering goes beyond food and it's the gathering of people.  I wanted guests to come into Elizabeth and feel like they were in my home.  I wanted them to feel more than welcome.  I also wanted them to experience dinner as a party.  I wanted guests to meet new people, eat near one another as a family.  I want strangers to become family, just for a few moments in time.  I feel interaction with each other, even strangers around food allows one to feel enchanted. With all the Internet and connectedness yet separation I think this is a lovely way for people to be face to face.
New Gatherers Cuisine means so many things to me and I believe it's working.

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