Twice a week, Black Barn’s Executive Chef Mateo Bergamini makes a trip to the Union Square market to pick up fresh produce for the restaurant. And each week, amid joyful greetings from vendors, he straps his purchases to the bike and, the child seat on the back overflowing with fruits, herbs and vegetables, he walks them carefully back to Black Barn.
Today he is joined by Chef/Owner John Doherty. Under a gray sky that threatens rain, Chef Doherty walks briskly through the city to the Union Square market, commenting on architecture and developments in the neighborhood, enthusing about the menu for that night, and dodging incoming pedestrians like a true New Yorker.
Despite the darkness of the clouds above, the market is a rainbow of color.
Black Barn may be far more elegant than a real barn, Chef Doherty explains, but the restaurant’s commitment to fresh ingredients is what brings Chef Bergamini to the market every week. There is a mix of old- and new-world charm as the two chefs explore the market together. Bergamini props his bike outside each stall and begins the process of checking the produce – smelling, touching, even tasting whatever is on display. The vendors are excited to see him and greet him by name. His friendly Italian accent and intimate knowledge of what makes good food endear him immediately to anyone in the industry.
Chef Doherty is excited by the vendors this week. Strawberries have just come into season and he encourages Bergamini to pick up a package. “We’ll find a way to incorporate it into the menu,” he says. “These are too good to pass up.” The two chefs each taste a strawberry, smiling to each other. The strawberries will be used that night in the Black Barn Orange Éclair, their sweetness playing off the citrus of the orange.
“I forget that what we do here is special,” says Doherty, trying to look at the market with the eyes of an outsider. To him, purchasing fresh food every day to incorporate into Black Barn’s menu is second-nature. It is only when he really takes a step back and thinks about this process that he sees it for what it is – “magic,” he says.
It’s incredible to watch the two chefs in their element. Their understanding of food – what is fresh, what needs a few more days, and what can be incorporated into a brand-new dish – means that they don’t see ingredients before them, but potential recipes.
Every ingredient at Black Barn is carefully selected to ensure that the resulting dish is perfectly delicious. Look through our menus to see if you can recognize any of these ingredients in their final form.
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