Dante Boccuzzi has a tasty trifecta of restaurants right in Tremont. Last month, the chef opened his latest eatery, Next Door, beside his namesake, Dante, and sushi bar, Ginko. At the helm of the city's newest brunch and lunch spot is Jay Plourde, who worked with Boccuzzi at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco. We talk to the 48-year-old chef de cuisine about the menu and his traditional cooking style.
Q » So you and Boccuzzi have stayed in contact since you worked together?
A » I've always been in touch with him. He's always been my go-to chef with any questions — especially with food. But I also consider him a personal friend.
Q » He is known for bringing new techniques to Cleveland. Are you similar in that regard?
A » He likes the cutting-edge thing, staying ahead of the game and having people look at him and following him. Me, I'm older school. [For instance,] I don't sous vide [slow-cooking vacuum-sealed bags of food in water at low temperatures] as much. Some things are definitely better, but some things you do the old-school way, like short ribs. You braise short ribs the old way, and you get the fond [flavorful bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan during cooking] in the pan with the wine. You can do it sous vide, and it's tender. But where's the love and the sauce and all that? Some of this stuff doesn't work, and [the young guys], they don't get it. ... But I'm also learning from them.
Q » What are you most excited about on this menu?
A » I'm mostly excited about those two [wood-fired] ovens. We're going to do stone [pizza] pies in one, but there's two of them. Down the road we're going to do cedar-plank roasting, like cedar-plank salmon. Being out in the dining room like that when you're cooking on those cedar planks, it just fills the room with that smoky cedar smell. All the oak and the wood as well as those cedar planks, it just creates a really nice smell. And you can smell it outside — the whole neighborhood will be smelling it.