- Chef Adam Ben’Ous, in his element
- The final dish of seasonal summer vegetables: sugar snap peas, roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled eggplant, garlic scapes and smoked corn purée
- Field flowers at The Green Thumb farm in Watermill, New York
- Fresh berries from the farmers’ market
- The day’s harvest
- A colorful medley of ingredients
- The countdown begins: dinner party prep
For most of us a dinner party starts with, well, dinner — not so for New York Chef Adam Ben’Ous. His day begins with trips to the local farmers’ market, fishmonger and cheese shop, followed by the big menu brainstorm with his sous-chef and then actual prep and cooking. Here, Adam shares what it’s like to spend a day in his shoes — plus, his own personal playlist for those hard-at-work-in-the-kitchen hours.
Wake up! Stretch out and prepare my body for a day on my feet and constant movement.
I make myself an extra-dark French press coffee and skim the paper. This is the calm before the storm. I try to enjoy the peace and quiet before the hustle and bustle of my day begins.
Drive to Watermill and head to The Green Thumb farm. I talk to the farmers, Patty and Joe, about what new arrivals they have just harvested. This is also the first step in my menu preparation. I let the seasonal ingredients decide the menu. I always leave the farm with a game plan on what to prepare for the weekend. It’s impossible to leave the farm without inspiration.
I start my drive to Sag Harbor and head to Cavaniola’s cheese shop. This usually doubles as my breakfast. A cheese tasting is always in order before I pick out what to purchase for menus and cheese plates. I always leave full.
I then head to Wainscott to my fishmonger. I scope out all the locally-sourced seafood and pick and choose what I feel like preparing for the next couple days.
I head back to kitchen to show my sous-chef Robyn all the amazing ingredients I purchased.
We display all the ingredients on our work area, take a step back and brainstorm ideas together. Robyn and I will also discuss what desserts we will run as the menu begins to develop.
After a menu is devised, I start prepping produce, breaking down proteins and getting ahead with stocks and knife cuts.
Family meal. I cook a meal for everyone and sit outside and take a breather. This is also when I go over what needs to be accomplished to make dinner service seamless, elegant and delicious.
Show time. Time to execute dinner service. This is when the kitchen gets quiet and all focus on the task at hand: executing the perfect meal.
Garnish. At this time I prepare all the finishing touches for each dish. I’ll shave vegetables, cut chives, finely chop herbs and organize all the attention to detail.
Wine pairings. Dan, the front-of-house manager, and I will talk about standout flavors of the meal and decide a wine pairing.
Pulling plates. I pick out which plates and platters will go best with tonight’s plating.
I begin plating the meal with the help of my sous-chef.
I present the meal to the guests and explain all the components and flavors before everyone digs in.
Robyn and I begin to execute dessert. We wait for Dan’s signal that the guests are finishing up entrées.
Dessert is out and we begin deep cleaning the kitchen so that everything is spotless for tomorrow.
Leave the kitchen, sit outside, unwind and laugh about all the funny things that happened during the day.
SLEEP and get excited to do it again the next day.
Adam’s In the Kitchen Playlist
Listen now on Spotify.
1. Embryonic Journey — Jefferson Airplane
2. Salt Peanuts — Dizzy Gillespie
3. Madame George — Van Morrison
4. Rollercoaster — Bleachers
5. Uncle John’s Band — Grateful Dead
6. I’m on Fire — Bruce Springsteen
7. Another Saturday Night — Sam Cooke
8. Sloop John B — The Beach Boys
9. Is There a Ghost — Band of Horses
Download the full playlist on iTunes.
More to explore in Entertaining
- Entertaining 1.14.20 Cocktail of the Month: New Year, Timeless Margarita
- Entertaining 1.13.20 At Home—To The Very Max—With Tory Burch’s Filipa De Abreau
- Entertaining 12.19.19 A Creative Director’s Take on the Holiday Table
- Entertaining 12.9.19 Entertaining with an Entrepreneurial Twist
- Entertaining 12.2.19 How-Tos: Seven Tips for Creating the Ultimate Holiday Tablescape