How this Dynamic Chef Duo are Electrifying, Shocking New Start-Up —“Honest Plate”
Nicolas Reisini, Co-founder, Co-Head Chef,‘Honest Plate’
Jon Albrecht, Co-founder, Co-Head Chef,‘Honest Plate’
Behind the Line — Top Hampton Chefs Headline at ‘Honest Plate’
Did you ever meet someone really impassioned — even fervent — about a cause? You know… that toe tapping, leg jittering, jaw twitching, knuckle cracking type — chomping at the bit — desperate to tell you about their love — their lives’ work? Desperately dedicated to their art, their energy only barely allows them to be contained by a seat? Well, if you have, then you know exactly how I felt meeting Nicolas Reisini and Jon Albrecht — the fiery, feverish, fanatical, frenzied — chef team, who are bringing their formidable talent to new and growing Hamptons gourmet food delivery system, ‘Honest Plate’.
What we know about Honest Plate is that this striking start-up is taking the Hamptons by storm. Following the tenants of the Whole30 food program, this brilliant little company (brain child of Southampton serial entrepreneur, Ashley Heather) brings you the very best in local fare. Its dishes are prepared using vegetarian bases, and offered with customizable proteins — all for less than the cost of shopping for, and preparing, the dishes yourself!
We also know that Honest Plate is doing their part in fighting for our environment. Every meal is served in heatable and re-usable glass containers — completely eliminating the use of plastics — while vastly limiting waste. What we might not have known about ‘Honest Plate’ however… is that two super popular chefs, from the Height of The Hamptons Culinary Hierarchy, are the ones behind the line, blasting out all that beautiful food!!Yup — food gurus, Nicolas Reisini and Jon Albrecht, and their brazen bromance, is the force behind break out food business, Honest Plate!
Lightning in a Bottle — X3
Nicolas Reisini and Jon Albrecht need no introduction amongst the ‘Foodie Network’ of the East End. They have been behind the line together at top Hamptons’ restaurant, (the original) Tutto il Giorno, on and off, for 12 years, bringing us some of the best dishes this area has to offer. These two masterful chefs fluently finish each others sentences — so we can only image what they can get up to, designing dishes using the freshest produce and proteins available out East.
“The old saying is you can only catch lightening in a bottle once,” explains Albrecht, “but Nick and I have done it three times! Two stints at Tutto together — and now we’re loving it — and killing it — at Honest Plate.” The excitement is palpable!
Into the Kitchen… and Above my Pay Grade
I could tell I was in over my head when I started speaking to these two about food. It was immediately obvious I had entered a different realm. I showed my ignorance immediately while innocently asking about the weekly setting of their menus, and recipes. “Weekly?”, they repeated, incredulously, eyes bulging, “We change our recipes on a daily basis.” Reisini explained, very, very, patiently. “You see”, he taught me, “You have to respond to what nature brings to you. You never eat the same asparagus twice, do you?” (Hhhhhmmm…I thought, He’s right!’)
He continued, “Often, after we prepare for our Honest Plate clients during the day, and then work as Chefs by night, we get together in the late evening just to compare notes and discuss recipes, given the foods available — locally, currently.” “Yup”, adds Albrecht, “I take notes all day while I cook. It’s non-stop.”
Is “Food Savant” like… a thing?
Reisini continues with his artful articulation, “We don’t take only the season into consideration — that’s easy — braised meats in the Winter, light salads and cold soups in the Summer. We go deeper than that. What is the weather? The temperature? What is good about your tomatoes, say, that you want to extenuate? What is the texture? The smell? The acidity? What types of spices, temperatures, flavors will bring out the best in the food you’ve been given??” He had me at tomato! Reisini seemed to be in some sort of enraptured state, just thinking about the endless possibilities unleashable in a kitchen — and I was right there with him. Now things started to get really interesting…
If I didn’t feel, um… ‘under informed’ already, now I was really heading out of my depth. Five minutes into our conversation, with my head swimming and my pen scratching, I tried to keep up with the pair’s steady stream of endless info about famous chefs, and their particular contribution to modern culinary science. And I do mean science. These guys are not just throwing a pinch a’ this and a pinch a’ that into a pot !— they are seriously studying levels of salinity and saccharine, and the repercussions and reverberations of nature and food and chemical reactions and well — everything! As Nicolas likes to say, “Perfection is not to be attained, but to be pursued infinitely.”
The Foraged Food Revolution — Fighting Our Way Back to the Land
ForageÂ : a wide search over an area in order to obtain something, especially food or provisions.
Now my culinary education was really getting under way and — I loved it! Seems both Reisini and Albrecht hail Danish chef, Rene Redzepi as pretty much the King of modern culinary arts. His restaurant “Noma”, in Copenhagen, Denmark was famously voted ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ 4 times. Redzepi, is seen by many as the founder of the ‘Wild Food Foraging Movement’, which apparently has shaken the very foundations of fine cuisine. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Reisini asks, “You have heard of the ‘Foraging Movement’ in culinary arts, haven’t you???” So hopeful was he, that I wanted to lie, and scream, “YES!!!” But I didn’t. So the poor thing had to continue.
Foraging, or the act of ‘scavenging for food in the wild’, reconnects us to food knowledge and skills that our not-so-distant ancestors honed and used to survive — but that have almost completely disappeared in the modern age.
Rene Redzepi, however, sought to change that, remembering and revisiting instead the beautiful meals of his childhood in Macedonia. There, his multi-generational family foraged and prepared food together, always staying close to the land, and what it could supply. Redzepi is largely credited with inspiring ‘a foraging craze around the world’, concentrating on local, natural fare, and elevating the ‘field-to-table” concept for both chefs and customers globally.
Reconnecting with our Land
“Think about what happened”, Reisini says, “In most of the world, wild food foraging is a way of life that’s been passed down from generation to generation. But, in America, post-WWII life changed all that. In the 1950’s we saw the growth of agribusiness, an explosion in preservatives, and the ability to save foods for longer periods of time in your home refrigerators.
What we got as a result were foods full of chemicals, and designed by big business to last. Food companies touted the fact that they were helping the American people save time and money by allowing them to eat easily, quickly and without regard for food sources. No wonder cooking was filled with creams, butters and sauces!”, shouts Reisini, “The tastes and flavors of the preserved foods couldn’t hold their own! Foraging, using the best in local, available, fare — is giving us our fresh food back.”
Food Forward, Honest Plate
Well, the future looks bright for renowned culinary partners Reisini and Albrecht. What was once thought of as a passing culinary trend, looks more like a cemented commitment by chef and customer alike, to eating better, being healthier and appreciating what we have been given by the good, green, earth. “As Chefs we are like artists”, says Albrecht, “We are constantly adjusting — we always want to make things just a little bit better. There’s something about being on a team like this, that makes you want to be a better person — makes you want to do the best that you can do.”
What’s next for Honest Plate? “We would really like to see this movement spread across the country — and around the world.”, says Reisini. “We dream of collaborating with other Chefs, adding our 40+ years of knowledge to their local expertise and seeing what we can create…We’re just happy to be part of this health and food awakening.
We think of it as ‘stick to what you do well’. We have the skill, the knowledge, the desire and the time to prepare these incredibly beautiful, whole foods meals for our customers. In turn, we want our clients to stay healthy and happy so that they can do what they do best”. Makes sense. Honest Plate — Delicious. Healthy. Easy. Affordable. Ethical. Local. With two killer chefs! Looks like they might just be here to stay.
Written by Bethelle Desmond. Published on Mar 21st on Medium.com