How did your time at Amass change your perspective?
Working at Amass opened my eyes to the world of fermentation, hyper-recycling, composting, product utilization and sustainability. I also learned so much about how restaurants operate, how the decisions we make each day as chefs impact the larger picture and how, when we are surrounded by like-minded individuals, the possibilities of what we can accomplish are endless.
What tasks were you assigned?
I was one of five stagiaires, and each of us was assigned to a different station (hot, cold, bread, pastry and garden). I got to work at each of the stations at some point during my eight weeks at Amass. I really enjoyed the fact that every task given to me was an opportunity to be involved in other tasks with greater responsibility and to build trust with the team. I also got to assist with the staff meal, which is something that the chefs at Amass take very seriously and put a lot of effort into.
What differentiates Amass from other restaurants?
Fermentation at Amass is done to utilize product. For example, they ferment herbs that are left over from earlier in the week and use them in their famous potato bread, which is the only item that has been on their menu since the day they opened.
Recycling is taken very seriously at Amass. They have six different trash cans that are separated into compost, non-compost, trash, hard plastic, soft plastic and chicken feed categories. Their system took a little getting used to at first, but eventually it became second nature. What most other restaurants consider to be vegetable and animal "waste" (i.e., vegetable peels, juice pulp, herb stems, fish roe, small fish found inside larger fish when being cleaned, etc.) was salvaged and utilized at Amass whenever possible.
Amass frequently changes their menu in order to take advantage of the best organic, locally-grown foods. They deliberately work with farmers and producers who are committed to growing only the best organic products using the most sound practices. And Copenhagen has some of the best produce I have ever seen. For instance, their English peas are so delicious that they are eaten like candy...people just walk around and snack on them like chips.
What did you learn at Amass that you will carry with you going forward?
Being surrounded by other chefs, cooks, restaurant workers and stagiaires who all share a common goal of creating great food in a way that is environmentally responsible, good for the community and true to themselves is something that I will never forget. It has helped me to come back to Per Se with the confidence and knowledge to make suggestions about how we can do things in a more responsible, ethical and environmentally-friendly way.
I consider being awarded the ment'or Grant one of my greatest career achievements. It allowed me to experience something special, something that will forever shape the chef and person I want to be. I am so grateful to the team at Amass and to the folks at the ment'or BKB foundation for making my experience a seamless one. Aloha!