Doug Katz needn’t travel far to stock his larder. The chef and owner of Shaker Square’s Fire Food & Drink is blessed with a weekly farmers market directly outside his front door. And that pretty much guides his every move. “I have access to ingredients that were grown so close to my restaurant,” he says. “My goal is to enhance those ingredients without covering up their flavors.” And with a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration, Katz never runs out of uses for that seasonal bounty. “There are so many ways to recombine ingredients to keep the dishes fresh,” he notes. “I have had at least 10 different beet salads on the menu.”
As with most experienced chefs, Katz prefers to keep things simple — almost minimal, really. “I tend to think in threes,” he says. “It’s a good number of components to have in one dish.” To highlight the season’s first asparagus, for example, Katz will couple the vegetable with a simple vinaigrette and a few shavings of high-quality Parmesan cheese.
But at Fire, simple doesn’t mean conventional. Katz is fond of pairing surprising tastes for delicious results. “Oranges and pink peppercorns go really well together,” he notes. “So does fruit and salt.”