One of the recurring fantasies for most chefs is the idea of going into your own garden, digging up some vegetables, washing the dirt of them, putting them in a pan and serving them moments later. We all approach that ideal in many different ways, trying to imitate that closeness with our products in multiple different ways: Some restaurants have their own garden, some go foraging for wild products, some have farms rear their animals for them to their own specifications.
At Amass this desire is built into the core concept – and even the name – of our restaurant. As Matt has said so many times before, one of the driving ideas behind our menu structure is that we want our purveyors, the people we deal with every day, to tell us what is good right now, what is going on in their fields and gardens, or at their abbatoir, or on their fishing boats right now. That ideal comes at a price, of course: it takes a lot of work on both parts to stray from the more trodden path of using one protein or a few main vegetables for a month, or two, or three, and instead to be constantly ready to take in and cook whatever is at its peak right now. A fishing boat goes out to catch mullet and finds them in beautiful form, and full of roe. ‘Do you want 3 kilos of mullet roe?` Yes, we do. A lemon cucumber tree towards the end of the season still gives off a dozen cucumbers – will we take them? Yes.
Christina and Steen, our passionate providers of egg with an intensity of flavor and color we have found nowhere else, have a small farm about an hour outside of the city.
They keep their chicken in the same fold as their lambs – because they enjoy each other’s company. And their two old horses keep watch over the mixed flock. Christina brings in eggs two or three times a week and everyone looks forward to seeing her. This is in no way dependent on the fact that she also sometimes brings us homemade drømmekage (the best coffee cake you ever had), though, of course, that is also appreciated. One time she brought us 5 kilos of cherries from her garden simply because she couldn’t stand the thought of them going wasted. We tasted them, and put them on the menu the same day. For a couple of weeks she kept bugging us to come pick her elderberries that were ripe and ready – otherwise they too would go wasted.
So we went to the little village near her farm and she picked us up and drove us to the farm where we spent a beautiful autumn afternoon picking elderberries, and digging up horse radish, and picking sunchoke leaves, and a few other herbs to take home.
And of course we also had drømmekage, and jams, and coffee, and talked about their lamb that was up for slaughter over the coming weeks.
At Amass we work with people who are excited about their products, and who go out of their way to bring it to our attention – and to bring it to us, at any odd hour of day. Their excitement becomes our excitement, and a large part of the energy of our kitchen.
This is a thanks to them.