When realtor Bill Campbell, reached out to Tom Colicchio, restaurateur/chef owner and award–winning cookbook author to do a restaurant at the former Bull’s Head Inn space in Bridgehampton, the very confident and composed Tom agreed. Colicchio, however needed the entire project to be part and parcel with the restaurant. Along with a 47-seat dining room there is a 20-seat bar, a 40-seat private dining room, and a future inn with outdoor dining in season.
The Topping Rose House opened in early fall of 2012. Although the restaurant opened after the so-called Hamptons season, all the moving parts went very smoothly, according to Colicchio. An experienced restaurateur with his Craft restaurants in New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas, Colicchio understands how to “think like a chef.” In fact he wrote a book about it, and his mission is to find and train the most creative professionals in the field to work at his restaurants. With a great management team he has the confidence to give them free range to create. To wit, Ty Kotz, a professionally trained CIA graduate, now Chef de Cuisine at Topping Rose, works with Colicchio’s farm–to–table concept—a concept that has crept into the culinary ideology throughout the East End. The restaurant is certainly in the right place to realize the mission.
I was delighted to learn that Tom Colicchio is a great fan of Jacques Pepin, a man I worked with at my cooking school for the 12 years after founding it; and my mentor. He was given Jacques book, La Technique at age 16. “It wasn’t about recipes,” Tom said, “but about techniques, and it completely changed my life.” To his credit, Colicchio is also a food policy advocate and voices his food safety issues to Federal lawmakers. And I say “bravo Tom, to Bravo’s Top Chef.”
SAUTEED SWISS CHARD
For this recipe, Tom Colicchio sautés the leaves and stems separately, as it should be done.
2 pounds Swiss chard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled and sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Trim only discolored leaves from the chard. Separate the leaves from the stems, then wash in several changes of water. Cut the stems into 2 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanche the leaves (plunge them into the water; remove them with a slotted spoon as soon as the water returns to a boil), refresh them in ice water, then blot dry with a clean towel. Add the stems until they are almost tender, about 3 minutes, then refresh them in ice water. Blot dry and set aside with the leaves.
3. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet and warm over low heat. When the garlic begins to color, add the chard leaves and stems. Warm the chard in the garlic-infused oil just until tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.
Cod is mild and meaty, so it pairs nicely with the tangy acidity of a sauce like salsa verde, which is an option.
4 tablespoons peanut oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 1 1/4-inch thick 7 1/4-ounce skin on cod
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
About 1 1/4 cups salsa verde, optional
Warm 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to each. Salt and pepper the fish fillets and place three, skin side down, in each pan. Pan-roast the fish until the skin is crisp and the flesh is opaque about a fourth of the way up each fillet, about 7 minutes. Turn the fish fillets over and reduce the heat to medium. Add half the butter and thyme to each skillet and cook, basting the fish with the melted butter. Cook the cod (which is best cooked through) about 5 minutes more.
The fish can alternately be cooked in batches, wiping the pan clean in between. Serve with salsa verde, if desired.
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
2 anchovies, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the parsley, capers, anchovies and mustard in a bowl. Gradually mix in just enough olive oil so the sauce holds together. Shortly before serving add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper. Using two spoons form the salsa verde into quenelles.
Above recipes reprinted from Tom Colicchio’s Craft of Cooking, Clarkson Potter, 2003.
Visit Silvia’s website, www.savoringthehamptons.com to see her blogs and more recipes.