We're always searching for the "Worthy Difference" in the foods we prepare for our
customers - something elemental that turns our high quality, locally raised ingredients
into a special experience. For us, there's nothing more elemental, or transformative,
than cooking with the high heat of a hard wood fire, whether it be on a grill or in an
oven. This ancient way of preparing food creates unique flavors you just can't get with
gas. On meats it adds a better crust, helps seal in the juices, and imparts a satisfying
crunch to every bite. Even more important, wood fired cooking infuses all our foods with
smokey flavors that can be manipulated in different ways, coming off as either strong or
slight, depending on the dish. For us, that taste of wood smoke is a Worthy Difference, a
signature flavor that sets our food apart.
Cooking with hard wood brings other benefits as well: Because every wood fired grill and oven seasons differently over time - like a cast iron skillet - each will produce food with subtle differences. In effect, your wood burning oven or grill acquires its own terroir, infusing food with flavors you can't get anywhere else. And the various hard woods available bring different profiles as well. For instance, the wood used in New York City is different from ours here in Vermont, which, thanks to our colder weather, grows slower, is much denser, and consequently burns hotter and longer. We use hardwood from Barnard, which we think has a smell and flavor all its own, thanks to our higher altitude and wetter weather.
There is also the effect that wood fired cooking has on the atmosphere of our restaurants. When people enter our spaces, they pick up the underlying smell of wood smoke, and it heightens their appetite. Their eyes are immediately drawn to the fire, which is the central focus of our kitchens. They can't take their eyes off it, probably because cooking with fire resonates deep within us. It seems to draw them into conversations as well, maybe because there is a communal aspect about gathering around a fire, watching the food come out. Whatever the reason, we think wood fired cooking adds something to our foods, and our restaurants, that we can't get any other way.