Chef’s Kitchen: Late-Summer Recipes with Heirlooms

September is the time to savor the best specimens from the heirloom garden.

  • Beautiful and flavorful heirloom vegetables come into their own in late summer and early fall.
    Photo by Karen K. Will

September is the great confluence of summer and fall ingredients to savor from the garden, farmers market and farm stand. Tomatoes are abundant, hot peppers zing, garlic is well cured, squash, melons, greens, sweet corn, potatoes and dry beans are amongst the late summer bounty. It’s all happening in the garden and fields.

It was all happening when I encountered Mark Firth and Stephen Browning hard at work, paint rollers in hand, at the Bell & Anchor, in Great Barrington, Massachussets — Mark’s newest venture as a restaurateur.

Mark had established a solid reputation with Partner Andrew Tarlon at several food establishments in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York: including Diner, Marlow and Sons, and Marlow and Daughters, a butcher and grocery shop. Their restaurants were well respected for unpretentious locally based eclectic menus, with dynamic selections, and constantly evolving offerings based on seasonal and daily ingredients and great atmosphere.

Mark wanted to move himself and his family closer to the source of food, away from the city life and to start a farm. With the help of a local farmer, he found an ideal location in the Berkshires. His newest venture promises to be a true farm-to-table restaurant replete with simply made cherry tables from two trees near his garden site.

He teamed up with Stephen Browning, “the other half of the brain,” who had been sous chef at Marlow and Sons. Stephen started cooking at the age of 11, worked in New Jersey delis as a teenager, and then trained at the Culinary Institute. As a chef he began in New York landmarks such as Lutece and Bayard’s. At Marlow and Sons the formula was straight forward: “Create a few good dishes to build around, keep it simple, keep it seasonal …”

That guiding wisdom will be applied at Bell & Anchor. According to Browning, the plan is to “Use ingredients that come in the door together. Tweak classic dishes to be seasonal. There’s not just one approach and one right way …”



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