Gramercy Tavern chef puts spotlight on vegetables in new cookbook

Michael Anthony, chef and partner at three restaurants in the Danny Meyer empire, at home (Photo by Maura McEvoy)

Michael Anthony, chef and partner at three restaurants in the Danny Meyer empire, at home (Photo by Maura McEvoy)

By Sabina Mollot
The executive chef as well as a partner at three Danny Meyer-owned restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, has just released a cookbook devoted to the art of cooking vegetable-based dishes.

For Michael Anthony, this book, V is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks from Artichokes to Zucchini ($25 at bn.com, hardcover), is his second. The first, published in 2012, was The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook.

This time, Anthony said he wanted to focus on dishes that, while not necessarily vegetarian, are cooked around vegetables, instead of relegating them to sides. Both he and Meyer will be discussing the so-called “vegetable forward” concept, now a norm at two of Meyer’s restaurants, at an event at Barnes & Noble on November 30.

Anthony also discussed the concept with Town & Village this week, saying the idea of the book was to make veggies enticing — and easy — for anyone to cook at home.

“V is for Vegetables is not about restaurant cooking,” said Anthony. “We all lead busy lives. It’s hard to work a full schedule and then have to get to a cutting board and cook for a hungry family. I have three kids and if it’s not done in 25 minutes, everyone’s upset.”
Additionally, he said, “Cleanup shouldn’t take more time than it took to cook the dinner.”
V is for Vegetables is not however, a vegetarian cookbook.

“Meat and fish are in some of the recipes to show it’s not a style of cooking that involves any deprivation,” he said. “It’s about pleasure, but vegetables dominate the idea.”
For Anthony, the effort to highlight vegetables came from wanting to prepare foods that were distinctly New York.

“For the last nine years at Gramercy Tavern we’ve been challenging ourselves to cook vegetables, which we consider a direct gateway to looking at how distinct eating can be in New York and in our region,” he said. “What’s different about eating in this city compared to all the other wonderful places we’ve eaten? How do we create lasting memories? At Gramercy Tavern, we do this in the main dining room menu using vegetables that are seasonal, not necessarily vegetarian but expressing our feelings of what it is distinct of here at this time and in this place. It’s not just an option out for people who don’t eat other stuff. If we talk about vegetarian, we’re talking about excluding some things we love to eat.”

In keeping with eating locally, shopping for groceries at greenmarkets or through a CSA is something Anthony recommends, adding that this can be done affordably with some planning.

“For less money than it takes to go to the supermarket, you can actually cook for your family using fresh food from the greenmarket,” he said. “People leave (the greenmarket) with a big heavy bag of vegetables. How do you then turn it into three meals instead of one recipe from a cookbook? We need to look at food not as a collection of recipes, but a continuation, a constant. That allows us to eat economically and healthily. There should be a continuation from the last meal. Re-purposing and preparing foods that make the next meal easier and faster.”

Anthony also delved into the subject of organic vs. inorganic vegetables and whether it really makes a difference.

“It’s a question I get all the time,” he said, adding that while “it is a big deal,” he feels buying locally grown produce is more important than whether an item is organic.

“The organic movement historically has always deserved our attention,” he said. “But we’ve been cheated as consumers. The American organic label has been so watered down, so twisted, it’s no longer a source of confidence. What I tend to do is encourage people to eat real food from close to home. If you buy at a farmer’s market you can ask questions and decide for yourself if you like how it’s grown without pesticides. It’s very expensive (for farmers to get organic certification) so I do not use the organic label as a reference point for making my decisions. The story of what it is to eat in the northeast is much more important to me than what its carbon footprint is or what its label is.”

Anthony is also a fan of CSAs (Community Sponsored Agriculture) and gets a box of produce from a CSA he belongs to every Friday.

Nov26 V is for VegetablesIn V is for Vegetables, he included recipes based on some of those items.

“People pull vegetables out of their CSA box and say what is this?,” he said. “I’m not sure everyone’s familiar with a Jerusalem artichoke or a kohlrabi.”

As for the latter vegetable, “Not only is it grown all over the northeast, it’s one of the most delicious things you can eat because it’s super crunchy and mouth watering, kind of like water chestnuts,” said Anthony. “You can throw it into a stir fry or cut it into wedges and roast it. Just the way a potato is irresistible when you take it out of the oven, kohlrabi is, and it’s not as starchy.”

He hasn’t forgotten about more traditional foods though. The book includes a recipe for coleslaw, which is actually inspired by a recipe from his wife’s grandmother.

“I make big batches of coleslaw so it’s easy to pull out for a quick lunch or a side dish with dinner. It’s a very practical dish.”

He couldn’t choose a favorite recipe but noted that in cookbooks the recipes that tend to get duplicated the most are soups. His favorite in that category is a soup made from carrots “with coconut and radish to make it zippy and exciting.”

Anthony is hoping that the ease of the recipes will help home cooks resist the urge to cater to picky eaters by making different things for different members of the family, or just giving up and ordering out.

He cited statistics that show Americans today eat more out of their kitchen than they do in their kitchen.

“We go to restaurants or order out more than we cook our own meals.” The veteran chef added that he recognizes that for many, himself included, “It takes courage to cook.

“If you’re the one to cook and put your ideas out there for your friends and family, you’re up for all kinds of criticism. I have three daughters and my white chef’s hat doesn’t mean a thing to them. We need people to be encouraged and confident so they’ll do it more often.”

In V is for Vegetables, over 140 recipes are laid out from A to Z, and also include colorful illustrations painted by Anthony’s wife, Mindy Dubin.

Dubin, Anthony and their children live in midtown Manhattan. When not there or at Gramercy Tavern, Anthony can also be found at Untitled, a new Danny Meyer restaurant at the Whitney Museum, as well as another less formal eatery in the same building, Studio Café.

Anthony will be discussing and signing copies of his book and speaking with Meyer at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street, on Monday, November 30 at 7 p.m.

Harvest in the Square, now 20, raises $350K

Lillie’s Chef Thomas Contessa (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Lillie’s Chef Thomas Contessa (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Union Square neighborhood gave fall an early welcome last Thursday at Harvest in the Square, the annual culinary event that raises funds for the park’s maintenance and programming, this year bringing in $352,000 and over $5 million since the event began.

The event celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and Coffee Shop co-founder Eric Petterson, who worked with restaurateur Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group to launch the event in 1995, said he was happy with what it’s become.

“It’s just an amazing event as far as raising money for Union Square Park,” he said. “It’s weird how time flies. This was really hard work when we started.”

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Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event to return on September 26

Paul & Jimmy’s, pictured at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood in 2013, is one of 20 participating restaurants this year. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Paul & Jimmy’s, pictured at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood in 2013, is one of 20 participating restaurants this year. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, an annual food festival/fundraiser organized by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, is returning this year on September 26.

This is only the third time the event’s been held, but it’s already become a yearly event due to popular demand of both local foodies and neighborhood restaurants.

Ironically, when first presented with the idea for a food festival by a group member, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, was against it, thinking it would be too big for the organization to pull off.

On the decision to go for it and then keep doing it, Krevis said, “Truthfully the neighbors like it. The restaurants like it. The restaurants would not come back if they didn’t feel it helped their business. And that’s what it’s about. Promoting our local businesses, promoting the GNA and our love of the neighborhood.”

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Police Watch: Man wanted in East Village attempted rape, pit bull bites father and son

MAN WANTED IN ATTEMPTED RAPE AND ATTACK ON ANOTHER WOMAN
Police are looking for a man who tried to rape a woman in an East Village building on Sunday and also, in a prior incident, attacked a woman in another building. On Sunday, cops say he followed his 22 year-old victim into an apartment building on East 6th Street and sexually assaulted her in the stairwell. The victim sustained minor injuries from the attack, which occurred around 6 a.m., and was taken to Beth Israel Hospital in stable condition.
Police say he also, on Tuesday, December 16 at 12:45 a.m., followed a 19-year-old woman into the elevator in the lobby of her building located on the FDR Drive. He then grabbed her buttocks and breasts and tried to forcibly kiss her. The woman struggled and managed to get out of the elevator and the building. The creep chased her and managed to grab her buttocks again before fleeing the scene,
The suspect is described as dark skinned, approximately 25 years old and 180 lbs., with short cut hair. In the second incident, he was wearing a dark baseball cap, black bubble jacket, blue jeans and black sneakers. In the first incident, the victim said he was wearing a Yankees cap.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637 (CRIMES). All calls are strictly confidential.

tktk

Freida Yakubov

FLORIDA WOMAN MISSING
Police are looking for a 37-year-old woman, Florida resident Freida Yakubov. Yakubov was last seen last Thursday in front of 111 West 16 Street at 8 a.m. when she arrived with her boyfriend from Sarasota. Yakubov dropped her boyfriend off at the location and then left to park her vehicle, a black 2009 BMW 1 Series 4-door sedan with Florida license plates, but she never returned.
She is described as being 5’7” tall, weighing 120 lbs., with a light complexion, long blonde hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white sweater and gray sweat pants.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER HIS PIT BULL BITES A FATHER AND SON ON EAST 28TH
Mister Parrish, 36, was arrested after police said he was involved in two assaults, including one in which he sicced his pit bull on a father and his son.
Last Saturday at around 10:52 p.m., at East 28th Street and Lexington, Parrish was standing on the corner with the dog when a child, who was under the age of seven and standing next to Parrish, became frightened by the animal. Parrish then yelled, “It’s only a dog.”
The boy started crossing the street with his father when Parrish allegedly removed the dog’s leash and steered it towards them. Police said that the dog bit the boy on the leg, causing the skin to break and bleed, and Parrish did nothing to intervene. The dog also allegedly bit the child’s father on the arm.
The victims were taken to the hospital and the dog was removed to Animal Care and Control. Parrish (whose first name really is Mister, police confirmed) was was also charged with assault, as well as harassment and dogs to be restrained.
Around the same time, police hit Parrish with additional count of assault along with arresting another man, Jamie Sloan, 34.
Police said Parrish and Sloan were involved in a fight at Third Avenue and East 28th Street around the same time as the other incident. They allegedly punched another man in the face and head, causing cuts and bleeding to the victim’s ear.

MAN ARRESTED FOR STOLEN BAG AT GRAMERCY TAVERN
Police arrested 51-year-old Nathaniel Green for grand larceny in front of 915 Broadway last Monday at 7:16 p.m. Green entered the Gramercy Tavern at 42 East 20th Street earlier that day and allegedly removed a black bag that didn’t belong to him from a chair. Police said he left the restaurant with the bag and was stopped outside the building. He allegedly resisted arrest at the time, ran and dropped the bag, which landed under a nearby car.

MT. SINAI BETH ISRAEL PATIENT’S CREDIT CARD STOLEN AS SHE SLEPT
Police arrested 38-year-old Paulino Camacho for grand larceny inside Mount Sinai Beth Israel at 281 First Avenue last Thursday at 11:12 p.m. The victim, who is a patient at the hospital, said that she was sleeping in her room and when she woke up, she went to look for something in her bag. Camacho had allegedly taken her credit card and $30 in cash from the bag.

‘POT DEALERS’ BUSTED ON WEST 28TH
Police arrested two people for the sale of marijuana and possession of marijuana near the intersection of West 28th Street and Broadway last Friday. Twenty-year-old Usman Jalloh was busted in front of 34 West 28th Street at 3:40 p.m.
Jalloh allegedly sold pot to an undercover officer and after searching him, police found that he was allegedly in possession of additional marijuana.
Lamin Kamara, 24, was arrested at the intersection at 4:45 p.m. He allegedly tried to sell marijuana to an undercover officer and police said he was in possession of marijuana.

‘SHOPLIFTERS’ BUSTED AT BED BATH & BEYOND
Police arrested two people for shoplifting at Bed Bath & Beyond in separate incidents last week. Denise Mulcare, 45, was arrested last Monday at 1:09 p.m. and Anthony Dantico, 33, was arrested on Saturday at 3:54 p.m. Both were charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Mulcare allegedly took items of the shelf and placed them in her bag, attempting to leave the store without paying. Police said that Dantico took property off the rack, put it in his coat pocket and attempted to leave without paying.

‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED FOR SWIPING MACBOOK
Eighteen-year-old Isaiah Ravenall was arrested for burglary last Monday at 11:50 a.m. inside the 13th Precinct. Police said that Ravenall entered the victim’s apartment without permission and swiped an Apple MacBook Pro valued at $1,100. Information about the location of the burglary was not available.

MAN ARRESTED IN HIT-AND-RUN
Police arrested 25-year-old Salvador Colula inside the 13th precinct for leaving the scene of an accident last Monday at 9:45 a.m. Colula was driving at a previous date and allegedly hit someone with his car, causing a sprained ankle. Colula did not stop when he hit the man and left the scene of the accident, police said.

THEFTS AT THE GAP LAST WEEK
Police arrested four people for thefts at the Gap Store inside 122 Fifth Avenue last week.
Timothy Read, 23, and Angel Vega Jr., 39, were arrested last Monday at 7:56 p.m. Read was charged with grand larceny and Vega was charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Read allegedly attempted to steal three jackets, which were valued at $1,044. Vega allegedly attempted to steal two jackets.
Twenty-six-year-old Christian Pena was arrested at the same store the next day at 2:06 p.m. for petit larceny and possession of stolen property. An employee at the store said that she saw Pena take items from the shelf. He allegedly concealed them and attempted to leave the store without paying.
Police arrested 53-year-old Elvin Quinones for petit larceny and possession of stolen property in front of the store last Friday at 11:54 a.m. An employee at the store said that Quinones took clothing off the shelves and then attempted to conceal it in his coat. Police said that he then tried leaving the store without paying for the items, which were worth $94.99.

Chefs deliver gourmet meals to seniors

Citymeals-on-Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro with chefs and restaurateurs, Scott Conant of Scarpetta and Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird, deliver meals to homebound seniors in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Citymeals-on-Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro with chefs and restaurateurs, Scott Conant of Scarpetta and Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird, deliver meals to homebound seniors in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
As part of a new program launched by Manhattan chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud, on Tuesday, nearly 50 seniors in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had gourmet meals delivered to their doors that were prepared by five well-known, Manhattan-based chefs.
The residents were all recipients of meals that are regularly delivered by Citymeals-on-Wheels and on Tuesday, a handful of those meals were not only prepared by but delivered by two of the chefs, Ryan Hardy, who owns the restaurant Charlie Bird, and Scott Conant, owner of Scarpetta.
The visits by chefs were part of a citywide, monthly event that was launched in January by Boulud, who’s also come to Stuyvesant Town to bring meals to homebound seniors. Boulud’s visit to the community was in the days before Christmas in 2012 and was done in partnership with Citymeals, which is an organization that delivers meals to seniors who are physically unable to shop or cook for themselves. In Stuy Town, there are 40 recipients of Citymeals deliveries; in Peter Cooper, there are seven.
According to Beth Shapiro, Citymeals’ executive director, who also visited a few of those residents along with the chefs, the average age of those receiving meals, citywide, is 83 and more than half of those people are living at or below the poverty level.
“We have people who have to decide between cutting a pill in half or eating,” said Shapiro. “These are the people we’re feeding on a regular basis, and in neighborhoods you wouldn’t think of, like the Upper East Side.”
Income doesn’t factor into eligibility for getting meals though and Citymeals’ work is mostly privately funded (with just 10 percent of its budget coming from the government). Primarily, its mission is to feed New York’s homebound seniors on days when the city’s Department of Aging, via senior centers, does not, which are weekends and holidays. Boulud, who owns several restaurants, is also a co-president of Citymeals’ board of directors.
For Hardy and Conant, the delivery trip to Stuy Town was a first, but both indicated a desire to return to deliver again.
Conant, armed with a bag full of takeout trays of pasta with sausage ragu and focaccia bread and ricotta, said, “I’m happy to help people in need. I have two little girls and as they grow older I think they should see how important it is.”
Alongside him was Hardy, who’d brought trays of roast chicken with farro salad.

Stuyvesant Town resident Mary Petrone (center) with Chefs Scott Conant (left) and Ryan Hardy (far right) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town resident Mary Petrone (center) with Chefs Scott Conant (left) and Ryan Hardy (far right) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The first stop of the day for the chefs was the apartment of Mary Petrone, who told them she’d lived in Stuy Town for 50 years. After making a point to warn them that she would not be eating anything with white rice because it was her least favorite food, the 86-year-old woman then had them breathing a sigh of relief with her next statement. “I love Italian food,” she purred, “because I’m half Italian.”
“We both own Italian restaurants,” Hardy said in response. “You should join us,” Conant added.
However, that didn’t seem likely after Petrone informed them that she had arthritis, which was getting worse and was also still recuperating from a cancer-related operation she got two years ago as well as glaucoma in her right eye. Still, Petrone said she still exercised faithfully every day and tried to get outside for appointments.
The conversation managed to turn to travel when she mentioned she’d been to Italy more than once. Conant said he had as well, and Petrone revealed she’d also been to 16 different countries over the years. But, she added, “My favorite place is right here in Stuyvesant Town. There’s no place like the good old U.S.A.” She then told the chefs, “I give you fellas credit. Opening a restaurant in New York ain’t easy.”
The chefs didn’t argue and soon they were heading off for their next delivery at the apartment of another resident in the same building, Catherine Sweeney.
Once inside the chefs commented on a photo of Leonardo DiCaprio that was tacked up on the wall outside the kitchen.
“He’s a family friend,” she replied, before noting the entourage of Citymeals employees and reporters in her living room and adding that it was “nice to see smiling people.”
There was also no shortage of smiles during the last delivery of the day for the chefs when at the apartment of another resident, Catherine McCloud. McCloud had also been to Italy, she informed them, having studied there for conservatory “in the beginning of time,” she joked. “The 50s.” While there she also found that though she’d complain of being sick of “pasta and red sauce every damn day,” whenever she went home to cook, that’s what she’d instinctively end up making. “I couldn’t do without it,” said McCloud with a chuckle.
In her case, she became a Citymeals recipient after getting cancer. She’s also had a husband, an actor whose picture was opposite the couch on the wall, who suffered a bad stroke. When she told him about her own illness, she recalled how his response was to be “annoyed” since he would no longer get to be the center of her attention.
“The types who like to be on stage like to be on stage all the time,” she joked, adding that she wanted to thank the chefs “for bringing me goodies.”
McCloud also noted that she thought an important part of life was eating well.
“When you get to my age, some of the pleasures of life are no longer available to you,” she said, “but you can still get a good meal.”
Including the aforementioned residents, 425 seniors living throughout the boroughs got meals on Tuesday prepared by chefs such as Marc Forgione of American Cut, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern and Amanda Freitag of Empire Diner, along with Hardy and Conant. Since January, different chefs have lent their talents to Citymeals on the first Tuesday of each month.