Articles / Peter Hoffman and the 'High Fashion' of Food

Peter Hoffman and the 'High Fashion' of Food

Published February 1, 2023

How the “trend” of sourcing well has changed, cooking beans in the fireplace, and embracing seasonality to the fullest

Time for Food with Mark Bittman! Melissa McCart joined me as co-host on today’s episode, and we have with us my old friend Peter Hoffman.

“My cooking has been about wanting to reflect the seasons and the changing of the seasons. The rotation of the earth and the tilt of the earth is where the seasons come from, and so as an urban dweller, the way that I stayed in touch with what was happening on the planet was by going to Union Square [Greenmarket]. And seeing that variation — what was coming in, what was going out, what was no longer available, and building menus, cooking for myself, and cooking for others.” — Peter Hoffman

Peter ran the wonderful Savoy restaurant in Soho — it was a real go-to for me — and other restaurants as well, but is even better known for bringing real farm to table food to New York City restaurants. We talked about that, and we talked about Peter’s book, What’s Good, and we talked for a while about culinary “fashion shifts,” which is an interesting phenomenon to consider.

Please listen and subscribe, and please review on Apple if you’re so inclined. Peter’s recipe for Beans al Fiasco, which was featured on the podcast, is below. Thanks for listening, and reading.

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Fireplace Beans (Beans al Fiasco)

Cooking in the fireplace doesn’t require any fancy equipment. This recipe can be done with a mason jar in any living room fireplace. Lacking a fireplace or a campfire, the beans can be cooked in a covered pot but it is less dramatic and magical. The slow, even cooking produces wonderfully unctuous and flavorful beans. It is fun to watch them cooking before your eyes. The method depends on utilizing the heat from a mature but not roaring fire. Traditionally this is done in a wine bottle (fiasco in Italian) but using a Mason jar dispenses with the issue of getting the beans out of the narrow neck of a bottle. Serve with grilled meat and wilted greens. I prefer to use Sorana beans but scarlet runners, cannellini, or Jacob’s cattle varieties will all make a great pot of beans. Try to avoid the white navy bean as it is an inferior bean in flavor and texture. — Peter Hoffman