Sous Chef Pete Bobris weighs in.
Staff meal food costs:
We prefer to make everything from scratch, rather than purchasing things like pastas, sausage, and dumplings. But we’ll order any required items for specific meals, spending a maximum of $100.
Size of staff meal:
20 to 25 people
Time of staff meal:
We usually eat between 3:15 and 3:30.
Worst staff meal:
In France—we’d buy frozen Croque Monsieurs and put that up.
Favorite staff meal ever:
This [pork carnitas tacos], which we eat every other week. And fresh pasta.
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Corton may be a temple of modern cuisine—a place where you’ll find everything from rockstar Chef Paul Liebrandt’s high-concept French menu to the delicate and dreamy desserts of 2011 New York Rising Star Pastry Chef Shawn Gawle. But when it comes to staff meal, the grandiose gets pushed aside in lieu of ethnic specialties and good old fashioned home cooking. After spending their mornings busting butt, the crew at this Tribeca locale take their break noshing on Korean fried chicken, pot pies, or spätzle. And a clear favorite for everyone, both front and back, is the semi-weekly appearance of tacos, complete with homemade tortillas and spicy pork carnitas.
While the ideas behind the staff meal at Corton may be simpler than Liebrandt’s detailed tasting menu, the prep time is surprisingly thorough. It’s all about planning, says Sous Chef Pete Boboris, who makes it his mission (along with the help of the family-like group of cooks) to make their break a special event. “I always thought if you eat well, you cook well,” says Boboris, who gets his team to help out with the side items—salsas, rice and beans, and churros courtesy of Jeff, Nick, and Michelle, respectively—while he focuses on the main meat. “Most people will only eat one meal a day, so why eat shitty?”
For the time-intensive carnitas, Boboris brines the pork for 12 hours, rubs it down with a spice mixture to marinate overnight, stews the meat for another 10 hours, then shreds the pork and fries it until crispy. Paired with his homemade tortillas (prepared at nearby Centrico), a few tangy salsas, and a refreshing pina colda (thanks to left over pineapple sorbet), it’s a meal bound to pick-up the staff and pull them straight through the craze of Friday night service.