American cuisine is constantly evolving, and each generation adds a unique twist that leaves a lasting impression. Chapter One, located in Manhattan’s West Village, reflects on the origins of American culinary delights with the Heritage Dinner Series. Spearheaded by executive chef Warren Baird, the first dinner pays homage to the Colonial Harvest Dinner on Sunday, November 2.
Focusing on 1620s New England, when the first settlers colonized Plymouth, Mass., Chapter One embraces the ingredients Native Americans used during harvest time. “It was a unique moment of cultural exchange as they turned to the Native Americans for information about what could be grown, trapped, and ultimately cooked,” chef Baird said.
Through extensive research, he discovered ways to bring the past dishes back to life. Some of the enticing entrees include roast venison with maple and cranberry, and venison, which was a common gift Native Americans gave settlers because of the abundance of deer in the area. One of the interesting selections on the menu is the “Three Sisters,” which pays homage to an old agricultural technique of growing corn, pole beans, and squash on a single mound. “It is also the origin of the first succotash dished called msickquatash, introduced by the Narragansett Indians to the Pilgrims,” explained the chef.
“Ryaninjun” bread will also be served during the Colonial Harvest Dinner, which is a bread made of rye and cornmeal. Since wheat didn’t grow quickly in the hilly area of New England, bread was imported from England. In order to have enough bread for daily consumption, the settlers needed to find other ingredients to use, such as cornmeal and rye. “This bread is also called rye and Indian bread,” Braid said. “It would become Boston brown bread with the addition of molasses.”
Even during the time of the first pilgrims, dessert was something that could not be missed. Baird will be serving “Indian Pudding,” which is influenced by a mix of Native American and English culture. “The introduction of corn by the Native Americans impacted every facet of the meal, including dessert. This was a sweet variation of the multitude of hasty pudding recipes so common in English life that include maple syrup and cornmeal.”
Take a trip back in time at Chapter One and explore the roots of American cuisine. Served family-style, the dinner costs $32 per person and reservations are accepted for the Colonial Harvest Dinner and other Heritage Dinner events.