Fern Berman interviews Stan Frankenthaler the proprietor and chef at Salamander Restaurant located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and The Red Herring located in Boston.

FB: You've said that you were influenced by your grandmother's cooking as many chefs that I talk to have been. Why do you think that is?
SF: "For people our age our mothers were influenced by the supermarket. Many of us lost the home cooking tradition. The grandmothers were the home cooks. They followed tradition, I was lucky enough that my grandmother had garden and we put the produce up that we grew."

FB: You grew up in Georgia. How was your food influenced by that region?
SF: "There is a certain generosity about the food that comes from my growing up in the south. Lot's of pickling and preserving. We make a lot of relishes that accompany savory foods. And, we never shy away from serving lots of pork and we serve a lot of smoked foods. We want our customers to be in a hospitable atmosphere. We enjoy feeding and nurturing them."

FB: What would be the best way for people to smoke roast foods at home?
SF: "One of the easiest ways to smoke food is to use either a Weber Grill or a barrel shaped grill. Many of the grills for home use have a separate fire box. Build a small charcoal fire at the very bottom of the barrel grill to be as far away from the food as possible - use water soaked wood chips, adding soaked wood chips to burning charcoal creates smoke. Maintain temperature at 200 - 250 degrees using this technique. At that temperature the food is cooking slowly but picks up a lot of smoked flavors. Place seasoned or marinated foods to be smoke roasted onto the grill surface then cover to trap smoke. The secret to maintaining a temperature is by adding small amounts of charcoal and the way to maintain the smoke is to add small amounts of soaked wood chips."
"It's important to check the internal temperature. For example turkey should have an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees; beef roast should have an internal temperature of 115 degrees for medium rare - you can sear the exterior for color. The internal temperature for a whole chicken is 165-170 degrees. Salmon and sturgeon are the best types of fish to smoke, in this case a cooler fire is better so the fish cook slowly. With both salmon and sturgeon you want the internal temperature to be over 130 degrees."

FB: You seem to be very influenced by Asian flavors. You're from the South! How did you become influenced by Asian flavors?
SF: "When I was growing up in the South I had a friend who was Chinese and his parents owned the local Chinese restaurant. When I was introduced to his family I thought I wanted to be a cook in a Chinese restaurant. I loved the food, culture and philosophy...I guess I just fell in love with the food. The flavors of the food are carefully balanced...I like how quickly the food is cooked and finished...how this process is well balanced."

FB: Moving to a different subject...I've noticed that you make your own breads in your restaurants.
SF: "Yes, we make our own breads, in fact we try to make everything we serve. It gives our guests a complete picture of the restaurant. The food and ambience help to create this picture. The personality of the restaurant, the people who work in it start with the food that we prepare and serve."

FB: How would you describe your food?
SF: "It's Asian tinged exotic. We incorporate flavors and complex spicing as the underpinnings of the cuisine and then we add fragrances and aromas through smoking and herbs. We use lots of fresh herbs thrown in at the end of the cooking process. We also use lots of condiments with the meal. There are so many flavors and textures that come alive in your mouth, it's like a circus in your mouth."

FB: You are an active member of Chefs Collaborative, why is that organization so important to you?
SF: "Chefs Collaborative is an important organization that helps strengthen the roots of our community. We can educate ourselves as chefs and then in turn educate our customers and co-workers. The goal would be a more sustainable work place, industry and community. As food professionals, we take the responsibility of making food choices for our customers - we roast our own meats - bake our own breads - and make our own condiments. Our goal is to make sure that the food we serve is flavorful and is good for you. Chefs Collaborative goals cut across all lines...it's hard to argue with the fact that good food is good for you. When we take our cooks on a trip organized by Chefs Collaborative to pick fresh asparagus or beets, it's exhilarating to see everyones delight in the foods they've harvested themselves. It's an eye opening experience for everyone involved. They become like children, full of wonder and they can't wait to get back to the restaurant and start cooking the food they've just picked."

FB: What are some of the items you must have in your home pantry?
SF: "Sesame oil; tamari; coriander; chutney; Kosher salt and sherry vinegar."

FB: How about your professional pantry?
SF: "We stock over 900 items for the restaurant.They include soba noodles and chow fun. We always have six types of vinegar such as dark and light rice vinegar; sherry vinegar; aged white wine vinegar; and balsamic vinegar. We also like to use guava paste and mango nectar for sweetening food instead of white sugar."

FB: What kind of kitchen equipment is important to you in your home kitchen?
SF: "Good knives. I have a carbon steel japanese knife that I love using. Good saute pans are important. I recommend the stainless steel line Calphalon. I also recommend All Clad."
FB: What about your professional kitchen?
SF: "I rely on my immersion blender a lot, the only thing that would make it more fun would be if it had a pull cord. We also rely on our food processor as well."


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