A Chat with the Culinary Masters Behind Blue Hill at Stone Barns’ Sausage and Beer Festival
As the kitchen of Blue Hill at Stone Barns was heating up for the 10th and final Sausage and Beer Festival, kitchen director and vice president Adam Kaye, guest chef Jonathan Adler from Franny’s in Brooklyn, local brewer Kelly Taylor of KelSo Beer Co., and fellow brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin Brewing had a lot to say about the event and future plans. Filled with cooking demonstrations, beer tasting, and endless eating, the event showcased what local farms and breweries have to offer.
Adam Kaye, why is this such an important event for the community and restaurant?
In many ways, it is an opportunity to showcase just one aspect of what we do on a nightly basis at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Celebrating the art of sausage making, meat curing, and brewing, and paying homage to the artisans and producers, is really central to the whole event. The dinner is as much about the food and drink as it is about the people behind that food and drink and their stories. Also, to me, finding and celebrating the connections that farmers, brewers, and chefs have is so great — we’re all cut from the same cloth in so many respects.
How did you come up with some of these dishes?
I try to find a good balance between cured, fresh, and smoked meats. Also, given the communal seating at the dinner, I always try to start the night off with a bunch of fun and interactive shared courses — it’s a great way to break the ice and set the tone for the night. And then there are the food and beer pairings; we work with our brewer partners to really have a broad spectrum of styles and flavor profiles and then see how to best fit those styles with the dishes. Sometimes that may mean changing the food around a little — at the end of the day, we want the event to be the best representation of both the food and the beers, many of which are unique to the evening.
What's the outlook for 2015 at Blue Hill at Stone Barns? Any other events or special dishes you’re planning?
We spend a lot of time in the winter in dialogue with our suppliers on the upcoming growing season — seeing what worked the previous year, what’s new. It’s these discussions that will shape so much of menu ahead. In the short term to get us through the next few months of winter, we’re digging deep into our supply of preserved and stored fruits and vegetables from the past year. And, lots more grains! Beyond the restaurant per se, I’m also exited about Blue Hill’s line of savory Yogurts. So, lots to do!
Jonathan Adler, what have you taken from your experience while working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns?
This restaurant changed my life, is the simplest way to put it. First of all, there is the exposure to the product and the respect for the product. There is the relationship with the farmers, which has become intimate. You learn about the benefits and the challenges of cultivating relationships with producers. With this meal, I never made sausages before and I approached Adam and said to him “I want to learn from you.” He gave a lot of opportunities for that to happen. I always said to myself after I left “I will be somewhere in my career where I can make cookery,” and that is what I did and that’s what we do at Franny’s.
What are some of your favorite dishes of the night?
All of these are amazing. Adam’s speck is perhaps my favorite to eat. I am really excited for people tasting grilled-calabrese-style pork sausages from Franny’s. I love the approach to sausage that Adam has, it is more international than what we have at Franny’s. I’m excited for people to try the pork sausage empanada, the bologna with corn beef, and “squashamole.” It’s true to the idea that anything is possible if you work for it; when it comes to food it really opens the world to possibilities.
Any plans for Franny’s in 2015?
I hope we continue to get better. Right now, we’ve reached a point where developing food is less a challenge and more a possibility. Hopefully we have a few new salami and sausages to offer on the menu. I hope to take what we learn as a staff together and our experiences elsewhere and continue to develop.
Kelly Taylor, what are you brewing today for the event?
This is our Kelso Pilsner infused with lemon verbena from the farm. Our pilsner is more malt-forward than other micro pilsners, so the malt character lets us put a lot of different herbs to emphasize the character. This is a very citrusy and floral flavor herb-infused in the beer, and it pops and really comes out.
What makes good brew?
We are looking for the beer to be clean, free from defects, and have a lot of flavors, which means it needs to be fresh and typical brewed locally. The other thing is structure: the pilsner is more malt so it’s sweeter and nutty and when we add herbs we want it to hit different parts of taste. When it does that it makes for a clean and not a bitter taste.
What’s brewing for Kelso Brewery in the following months?
We are playing more with barrel-aged and sours with a blending program like what they do in Belgium. You get the stout and you blend it with the fresh stuff, which is what you want, and it give structure. We started to do large bottles of 750 ml, like the size of wine bottles for barrel-aged sours. The laws in New York State just changed, which now allows microbreweries to have a tasting room and sell their products. We are located in Clinton Hill, and we’re fixing up the space to house barrels and create a tasting room.
Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, what makes Evil Twin Brewing different than the rest?
We are a gypsy brewery so we don’t own, one we use other breweries. We brew in South Carolina and Connecticut, and I have traveled the world and started brewing in Japan, Taiwan, and Brazil.
What is one of your favorite brews?
One of them is the Sour Bikini, which is a weird style. It is a sour IPA, a new style that doesn’t really exist, but it’s a cross between an IPA and vanilla ice. It’s hot like an IPA, but refreshing with the vanilla ice and only three percent alcohol.
Where are some of the places you are looking to expand?
We are constantly making new beers all the time, and we are looking to expand to Texas and Arizona. We are want to see what is out there and brew different styles of beers.