Ariane and I have known each other for about 25 years. In addition to both loving food and our crowd of U.S.-based French chefs, we are a fierce team—tough to beat—when we are partners in Belote, a French card game, together. This was the first time we sat down for a serious interview, and I got to ask her some questions I have been wondering about for years.
Gerard has been quite sick these past few months, so to cheer him up, some of our dear friends came up to spend the day on Saturday. Being chefs, they each brought and/or cooked something for the meal, which started as soon as they arrived at 11:30 a.m. and did not finish until 4:30 p.m. We were a dozen "foodies" who cooked together, joked together and ate and drank together for those five fabulous hours. Three of us were professional chefs: Christian Delouvrier (La Mangeoire), Jean-Louis Dumonet (The Union Cub) and Ariane Daguin (D’Artagnan).
Where were you raised? How did you develop an interest in wine? I am a product of the Hudson Valley. I grew up in Pleasantville, New York. While I went to college, I worked in a restaurant. It was the Depuy Canal House Tavern that had just opened. I was 19. Chef John Novi was 29. Craig Claiborne, the then New York Times food critic, came up with an entourage of eight people, including two chefs. He gave the restaurant a star rating and we jumped from serving 30 people a night to 130 a night. We suddenly needed a full time bartender, and I was given the role. I had to learn about distilled spirits, beer and wine.
My brother and I once ruined the family Thanksgiving with arguing about whether sweet potatoes and yams were the same or different types of potatoes. Turns out we were both wrong. They are members of different families, and neither is actually a potato. Neither of them would have been eaten by the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving, because neither had yet been introduced into New England. In any case my mother smothered whichever one she used with brown sugar, marshmallows and maple syrup, so that it mattered little what lay under all that.
Since we downsized, I have had a kitchen with just one oven, which has truly cramped my cooking style. Longing for a second oven but not having the space to install it, I was struck last year by a commercial for what looked like a toaster oven on steroids. Thirty seconds later I went to my computer and ordered one as a Christmas present for myself. It turned out to be a gift for the entire family, because it has allowed me to prepare many meals I couldn’t have turned out with just one oven. So while I get no commissions, I am happy to share with other cooks my complete satisfaction with this purchase. This Breville Smart Oven toasts, roasts, broils, bakes and keeps dishes warm. It has a large enough oven for me to make gratins and casseroles 12 inches long and 4 inches high. It came with a 13-inch pizza pan and 12-inch-square baking and broiling pans. I use this small appliance almost every day.
With prices ranging from 40 cents to 9 dollars per pound, it is very difficult to decide what kind of bird it makes sense to buy. Today's legal and marketing terminology makes the choice confusing. I have put together a glossary along with some facts that are important to best determine which turkey to buy so that you and your guests can enjoy the culinary experience Thanksgiving can and should be.
Josh is a very talented chef, a successful caterer and restaurateur and one of the leaders of the Hudson Valley fine-food scene. His style of "New American" cooking blends classic French technique with the tastes of Italy, Asia and the American Southwest. I finally caught up with him last week for this interview, in which he explains his new approach to cooking.What made you become a chef? It was the family business. My grandfather, an Italian immigrant, was a chef. My uncle had a restaurant in Pleasantville, New York—Vinny's, where I worked after school. I went to college and earned a degree in engineering, but once I started in that field, I realized I yearned to get back in the kitchen. So I returned to work at Vinny's, attended the French Culinary Institute and became a chef.
Did you start your own place right away? No, no. I worked in other kitchens and saw how it was really done first. One of the chefs I worked with was Bobby Flay. In 1998 I opened a small restaurant in West Hurley, and in 2003 I moved it to the current location in Rhinebeck.