During chef Bill Telepan's recent visit to The Daily Meal’s kitchen, the New Jersey-born, New York City-based chef was eager to weigh in on the value of staying local, especially when it comes to cooking. If you didn’t know, Bill is the chef behind the eponymous Telepan, and Telepan Local.
Telepan on the Upper West Side focuses on fine dining, though the chef, who prefers a light touch to his cuisine, hesitates to call it that. The menu changes seasonally, and in July, the sustainability-minded chef offered a four-course vegetarian dinner for Meatless Mondays to highlight the most seasonal greens.
At Telepan Local in Tribeca, the menu is even more simplified, to offer casual American fare, served tapas-style. A nine-ingredient preparation at Telepan becomes a five-ingredient dish at Telepan Local, while retaining the chef’s focus on local sourcing.
It’s Telepan’s trust in sustainable farming that lets him eat raw eggs, which he doesn’t mind doing while making the recipe for the evening’s cooking demonstration, a giant cornmeal pancake. It’s a habit that makes his wife squeamish, but as Telepan puts it, “Yeah I eat raw eggs. You ever watch Rocky?”
Outside of his restaurants, Telepan has also worked for the past several years to bring attention to Wellness in the Schools (WITS), a New York City-based initiative that aims to improve both the food and food culture of public schools by inviting culinary school graduates to work alongside cafeteria employees and sharing their knowledge and techniques.
The program, which aims to provide students with at least one healthy meal a day through public school lunches, will reach 60 schools in the next year, including three in Florida.
“I think all kids should eat well,” said Telepan. “For me it’s about, ‘how can we do it better?’”