Art of Food's Meet The Chef: Jordy Lavanderos, Chef at Seamstress
Tell me about Seamstress.We try to bring a lot of sustainability to the table. We use bamboo leaf plates, but have this industrial look going on too: we have a lot of cast iron and aluminum throughout the restaurant.
Our cuisine is mainly Mediterranean and American. We try to meet our neighborhood's needs by providing healthier options. We have vegetarian and vegan options on top of everything else—sausage, duck, and so on. Our new menu has been running for a month, and customers are really excited about it. The menu is getting more fun—while still meeting the different diet restrictions that appeal to the needs of people in our neighborhood.
How did you get started cooking?I'm from Mexico City. My mother is Mexican and my father is Italian. So growing up, my mother tried to learn Mexican cuisine by mixing up Italian flavors with Mexican flavors, which created this sort of clash and fusion of the two—but it was really nice. My friends didn't like it, but I didn't care at the time.
It was really interesting how she worked with those different flavors—and so I grew up with this idea that you can bring elements from Asian cuisine and mix them up with Latin American spices while using a French technique. Since I've had the opportunity to work in other countries and three different islands so far, I've just grabbed a little bit of something from each place and my cooking concept has really grown.
What kinds of dishes would your mother make?She used to make lasagna with mole poblano. For me, it was nice, but I knew that lasagna was supposed to go with marinara sauce. She would also make pasta—linguine, penne, anything—with cuitlacoche, which is this fungus that grows on the corn in Mexico. It's considered to be a delicacy. Normally, it would be enjoyed with tacos. For me, it was normal. But when I was a kid, friends would come over for dinner and be like—what is this!?
What's your favorite food to cook at home?My girlfriend is vegan, so one of the things I really enjoy to make is gluten free banana pancakes. It's literally just banana flour, almond flour, banana puree, flax seeds, coconut butter, coconut sugar, and a little bit of blueberries. It makes a great pancake.
I also love to cook pad thai. I go for a vegetarian version, and make it more international. I also love grass fed steak and foie gras. But everything in moderation and with a balanced diet.
What pulled you to New York City?I wanted to take my profession to the next level, so attending culinary school here was a must. I went to ICE, and learned about the professional culinary world while bringing in my cooking background. It helped build my ambition. I did a few cooking shows—had my two years of fame.
One cooking tip?Always keep the kitchen clean. I'm always cooking, prepping, and cleaning at the same time. I like to keep the kitchen spotless.
To find out more or to buy tickets to Art of Food 2017, visit artoffoodny.com.
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