Chef Chris Cosentino’s educational and inspirational tool for those who are interested in learning about and cooking with offal.
mike friedman

mike friedman chimes in on his head to tail stage

All I can say is it was our pleasure to have you mike, you are welcome back anytime!!! Read what mike has to say about his experience with us, I was speechless when I got this.  Thank you.

As cooks, we are bound to the mundane. It is not so much by choice, but by nature; a sear performed with every order and a brunoise precisely cut before every service. It is within this repetition that lies the keys to our success as cooks – before the art comes the craft.

However, every once in a while we have a definitive moment in our careers. We, as cooks, fervently wait for these opportunities to present themselves – sometimes it blooms from a successful night on the line, or maybe it’s a seasoned chef giving you weathered advice that guides your career down a certain path. Yet, these chances prove difficult to anticipate, nor can they be planned. For this young cook, cooking for a week at Incanto was a crucial moment in my career, and one that will have a lasting impression on the way I cook, think and lead in the kitchen.

If you have a keen eye when you come to Incanto to work, you’ll see it’s not entirely about guts. It’s certainly not about ego or recognition either, even though Chef Cosentino and his stellar crew perform at the highest level every night and have received numerous accolades and nods from every successful chef in the industry. From my experience, the Incanto kitchen revolves around cooking and the thought behind every dish. Why do a venison liver crudo? Because the product is ridiculously fresh, the flavors go perfectly together, and well, nobody else is doing it. Literally – nobody else. Why pair pig snouts with snails and watercress? Well, pigs live on farms, right? And what do farms have? Creeks! And what grows near creeks? Snails and watercress!

To a cook like me – this was mind-blowing. It took the idea of terroir to an entirely different solar system. The once popular term, if it grows together it goes together, immediately shot back into my brain after years of dormancy. At the end of the day, Chef Cosentino’s food tastes fantastic. Some dishes are unctuous and rich, others have layers of flavor to peel back, and all are decidedly delicious. Plus, the food will make you think – maybe not right at the table, but perhaps days after you’ll realize why there’s a lemon fluid gel on the rim of that plate featuring kidneys and asparagus.

Throughout my time at Incanto, I sliced a good amount of beef stomach, braised pigskin, peeled liver, and seared quite a bit of lamb tongue. But like I said, it wasn’t all about the guts, but also about relationships. I became a part of the team at Incanto, and for that I am most grateful. Chef Cosentino has compiled some of the best young cooks I’ve come across, and some of the funniest as well. Their kindness and assistance throughout my time in their kitchen is indicative of the way they work, and the way Incanto operates.

It is a difficult task to calculate the impact of an experience so soon after it occurs. I didn’t want to leave Incanto on my last night cooking. I basically had to be escorted out to change and enjoy the dinner we all had worked so hard on creating. Upon landing in Washington DC, I still yearned to be back in San Francisco and even now I look forward to cooking there again very soon.

As cooks, we are bound to the mundane. But every once in a while, we are reminded why we are in this profession and why we work as hard as we all do. I thank you, Incanto – you and your team have reminded me that I truly love my job.

Leave a Comment (2)

  1. Wow…a very heartfelt post. No wonder why it left Chris speechless. Awesome!

    Stacy | | Reply
  2. I had the same experience cooking rabbit ears that you served with a carrot aioli when I was an intern there. That’s funny that this seasoned cook could have the same profound paradigm shift in approaches to cooking. “why carrot I asked.” and Chef Chris said: “Because what do rabbits eat?” Some people might take that as a pun, but jokes like that often make the most sense

    Andrew G | | Reply