You have a fine dining background, right?
Yes, I spent most of my life in fine dining. When I was in school and in the beginning of my career, I was focused so much on fine dining, wanting to work in Michelin-starred restaurants. Then, when I was working for Takashi Yagihashi, I sort of went into a more casual spot and realized I wanted to split the difference: I didn’t want to do super casual, and I didn’t want to do fine dining. I wanted to do both. And for me, that’s what I love about The Dearborn, where I’m able to incorporate fine dining elements in a casual, approachable space. We joke about it: if we had a 40-seat restaurant with white table cloths, we could serve the exact same food in smaller portions and it would fit right in.
Do you have some examples of what you’re doing with the menu?
We have this burrata dish that we serve with different Japanese ingredients. We make a miso vinaigrette and use oba leaf like a Japanese medley. Then, we marinate beets with a citrus creme fraiche and take tomatoes and marinate and char them. That dish has everything you could want. It’s sweet, salty, creamy, and rich. People don’t understand that mozzarella cheese and miso go so well together. The dish was originally seasonal, but it became such a huge seller that we just kept it on the menu full time. It’s one of those dishes that I think speaks to who I am. It’s super finessed, really clean flavors, but you get all these different elements with it.
We always try to keep a gnocchi on the menu. I’ve been making gnocchi my entire career, so we have this killer recipe, but—this spring—the elements of the dish are all fresh spring vegetables. We plate it up with snow peas, morel mushrooms, corn, and heirloom tomatoes. We make this edamame puree and then pour that tableside. The idea is simple and delicate. Concepts in fine dining follow the ‘less is always more’ motto; if you find fresh food, do as little to it as possible, and just let all the ingredients speak for themselves.