I’m Now The Known Chef

Saturday, October 8, 2011

So I think the time has come for me to reveal myself.

On March 2nd of 2009 I started this twitter account during a time of frustration. I had just eliminated two partners and was in the middle of a divorce. I was up to my ass in lawyers and litigation and unable to create. My days were filled with the horror of losing everything I had worked so hard to achieve and $600 an hour ridiculous conversations with lawyers.

In the eight years prior I had opened up eight restaurants, started my own furniture design company and an Internet radio station. I just couldn’t get enough. I was designer, chef, general contractor, architect, marketing you name it. I hired friends to help me do it all.
Then I had to stop all at once. It was like my balls were cut off overnight.

Then I had this crazy idea. I’m a huge Ben Franklin fan. And I’m thinking about the silence do good letters he wrote to his own publications. Im thinking what if I instigate? What if I become something I myself aspire to be but I’m not yet? What if I re-invent myself as my ideal self? What if I rant and rave about what even I don’t always have the balls to do? I can say the things I want to say and stir the pot…

I can push myself hard in any direction just through my own rhetoric. I can be the ultimate wise ass and be honest and therefore DANGEROUS. Most of all I can see where and what that leads to. Who will want to listen, who will follow?

And know that it has nothing to do with my notoriety. It will just have to do with my tweets. With my honesty and not my restaurants success or any deeds before it. It was a renewal. It saved me.

But now its time to the charade to be over. For me to truly become this man I have pushed myself to live up to. Time for the tail to wag the dog.

My name is Frank Prisinzano. I am as imperfect and flawed as all of you. More so than most. I’m vain, I’m mercurial, I’m compulsive. I own 3 restaurants in the East Village of NYC. Some of you may know them. Frank Restaurant, Supper Restaurant and Lil Frankie’s. They are like my children. I run them myself with the most amazing staff an entrepreneur can have. My love of what I do runs through every employees veins. I infect them with my love of food and wine and every night we all make love in unison to the sounds of rock and roll and punk rock.

What we have is rare. So so rare. We vibrate about the silliest things in wines and cheese and truffles and cured meats. But it’s so much more than just the product. It’s the love. I preside over a fucking lovefest that I never really think I deserve. Who could?

We toast you all. We are perpetually packed with the best clients EVER. They all get it. They all participate and appreciate the gorgeousness of it all. I say all the time to myself “take me now” “blow my fucking brains out” “because it will never get better than this.

I can’t thank everyone enough for their crazy loyalty to my places and my staff. To the outpouring of talent to my lil radio station East Village Radio. It’s a privilege to be a part of this city I love with all of you crazy uncompromising food nuts and agriculture lunatics and wine gurus.

Thank you all for letting me instigate, and prod and VENT AND RANT AND RAVE ABOUT WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANTED. You are all princes and princesses. Thank you all so much for getting me through the hardest time and most humbling yet rehabilitating time of my life. But now it’s time to get back to work. I’m opening a new space and concept and I don’t even think I know what the fuck I’m doing anymore. It’s been 6 years since I opened a restaurant. I have missed it so terribly, so awfully, so horribly that a piece of me ALMOST DIED.

I’m Frank Prisinzano, I’m Frank. My Dad’s Frank too I tell my staff when people ask who’s Frank you tell them “We are all frank here”. We are all Frank in my world cause we are all Individuals who love what we do and love to infect others And that’s why I’m the luckiest man alive. I know I was chosen to do this. Too many ducks keep lining up for me. Too many doors swing open. I get up everyday excited to try again, break even my own preconceived notions of what food is, a restaurant is, a boss is. I’m the luckiest man alive. I have places that literally run themselves, people who work for me 14 years, I know their kids, wives, sisters, brothers. I have the power to steer trends I believe in, to turn thousands onto food I crave and watch them light up with excitement. I have employed kids that have grown up to be amazing restauranteurs (@MEATBALLERS) and I get to watch them kill it. I have empowered astounding artists and pushed them hard and relentlessly to create with me, I’ve seen them become badass builders (@changingholes). I have met incredible media geniuses and given them my babies to nurture and steer @dino_NY with my beloved (@EVRadio). I’m done it’s over no more hiding.

I’m Frank. Frank. Frank. Just a stupid Italian kid from Queens and Long Island with the most common Italian American name.

For my next act I give you Sauce Restaurant. A simple Italian place built around the only thing I ever really want. My grandmas Sunday Sauce. I will be butchering only whole animals and starting a Internet only food channel. I have a TV studio slash on the rail butcher room on Rivington street that will be for all to see and enjoy. A fully transparent restaurant. I will reveal how I make everything. I will teach you it all I promise. I dare ya to make it better than me. I will be asking many of you to come on our channel and do what you all do best. Cook, eat, drink and talk about it. Every Thursday the steers and hogs show up. All local, all visited by me and approved. All broken down whole in front of your very eyes. 100% old world restaurant. Just like it used to be. We will use everything on the animal. I honestly have no idea how to do it yet. I will figure it out. I need a challenge. When I do figure it out I will teach all of you. It has to be doable if I’m using everything. I got balls and I got Sauce.

It’s a backwards concept. The steaks are actually the by-products. With Italian food it’s all about the braising and the sauces and the ragus. The steaks are a bonus. I know I can make it work. I can redefine the model. I can make an impact on what’s broken. I can steer food back in the other direction cause I’m inspired. Next week begins the real fun of figuring it all out. Stay tuned cause now I can finally tweet it. #igotballsandigotsauce.

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What Steve Jobs Means to Me

Thursday, October 6, 2011

While Steve Jobs gave the world a great many things, his lasting legacy will live in his products. Products that changed the world. The most remarkable of these was certainly the iPod.

The iPod ushered in modem communication by creating a sleek, personal device where we can all get lost in our own chosen content. What you had on your iPod quickly became more important than almost anything else going on in your life. And it was a turn of the tide globally towards “everything in one place”. We started accepting that idea as sensible, powerful and expressive. The follow up of that w/connectivity (iPhone) and better readability (iPad) was a 1-2-3 punch knockout of epic proportions. A satisfying life has always been about better more communicative tools with which to create and enrich the lives of the people around us. We feel better when we are able to express ourselves. When language grows and becomes universal thru devices the world is better.

Simplicity is the single greatest word known to man. Simplicity means all are included, all are welcome, all can do. Simplicity moves mountains. You can have the greatest idea in the history of the world (arguably the iPod) but if it’s not simple to use and intuitive it’s useless. Simplicity is Steve Jobs’ single greatest achievement. This is what we all need to learn from Steve Jobs, take simple ideas, make them simple to use and simple for others to collaborate on.

And that’s all I have to say about Steve Jobs and the Steve Jobs legacy. Rest in peace, my friend.

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Sea salt madness

Monday, May 2, 2011

ON SEA SALTS

I was asked to talk about sea salts tonight. There are so many that have hit the market lately it’s insane. What you are looking for is always added flavor and complexity from every ingredient you use. Sea salt is an excellent way to complicate the simplicity. Regular salt is created in a lab. Sea salt is created naturally by the earth with a little help from man. There are really only a few types of regular salt:

1. Iodized table salt
2. Uniodized kosher salt (slightly coarser)
3. Rock or coarse salt

But there are hundreds of sea salts, some manipulated by man and some just pure as the driven snow. Real sea salt also has many many more available textures than regular salt. This opens up again more possibilities for more complexity. If you don’t allow time for salt to dissolve in or on the product you’re salting, you can really take advantage of those added sea salt textures.

Let’s talk about some of the sea salt textures out there.

1. Slate – Literally flaky like slate with sharp edges and inconsistent size.
2. Shattered tempered glass- literally like automobile glass that has been shattered. It’s like rubble. Coarse crunchy and dense.
3. Rock – Super coarse with big and small pieces. Completely inconsistent in size with big “crystal” like hunks
4. Kosher ground – Same size as kosher salt but made from real salt. This is what I use most. I use a Celtic sea kosher ground.

Some of my favorites:

1. Celtic grey sea (rubble)
2. Cyprus black (slate)
3. Hawaiian sea salt (rubble)
4. Norway smoked sea salt

Search “salt traders” or “Selina naturally” and check out the incredible selection for yourself. Get samples and play with them. The great thing about this surge in sea salt is something as simple as grilled fish with olive oil and lemon leaps to new heights with a great salt. And a salad of fresh vegetables becomes and otherworldly experience with the crunch and burst of coarse saltiness.

In a cold or room temp soup, or on top of a hot soup. Over unsalted seared greens. Over chocolate cake. On a savory ice cream or sorbet. Mixed with breadcrumbs as a substitute for parmigiano cheese over pasta. On fresh ricotta crostini with a little bit of honey. Over a braised hunk of short rib Sprinkled over fresh cold roast beef with olive oil and cracked black pepper. On a giant nest of shoestring French fries. On a fresh baked yam or potato. On your lovers belly. Around your margarita glass. On fresh baked rosemary focaccia. Folded into the whipped cream just before you put it on your devil’s food cake. On watermelon. On warm, crusty bread with raw milk butter.

In other words, no one should be using table salt.

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What is a real chef? Some raw ramblings..

Monday, May 2, 2011

What is the definition of a chef? What skills should a chef have?

Let’s start with what a chef isn’t.

A chef isn’t someone that works for two years in a decent kitchen then somehow ends up on Top Chef cause he or she will make good TV.
A chef isn’t a guy that has charisma but no real experience, and works the media and a few wall street dudes until they all back him.
A chef isn’t a guy that writes a good book about the “inner workings” of NYC kitchens but never actually runs a kitchen, then does TV well.

Let’s move to what a chef is.
A chef is someone who has a full working knowledge of every tool available to him to prepare food.
A person with the presence of mind to keep every dish being produced in his kitchen on his mind at once with the 6th sense to direct it.
A chef is a person capable of managing and leading large groups of people towards the goal of a flawless food experience for every client.
A chef is a person who, as soon as she enters a room, the entire room vibrates from her passion and presence.
A chef is teacher whose primary goal is to improve the palates of everyone around him by juxtaposition of flavors nuances and language.
A chef is a person who dances through a kitchen striking all the right beats and all the right cords on his way to a perfect service.
A real Chef finds all the satisfaction he needs on the face of a happy diner.
A real chef doesn’t use any pre-prepared foods. He doesn’t trust anyone but himself and his crew to prepare his mise en place.
A real chef loves to discuss and defend his methods and shares them openly because he is constantly trying to improve cuisine.
A real chef is completely transparent and is the best salesman for his own cuisine.
A real chef has an immense amount of natural stamina and energy. Their passion can literally knock you the fuck over.
He can be thrown into any real kitchen situation and kick motherfucking ass immediately and without any excuses. A real chef can design a menu that wastes nothing and doesn’t have a single unsuccessful dish.
A real chef has a style that is all their own that comes from years and years of hard labor in other great chef’s kitchens.
A chef is an ambassador of food, cuisine, nutrition, sanitation, craft, method, history, labor, equality, equipment and service.
A real chef would never sell out cuisine, world nutrition or agriculture for TV ratings, more money, more notoriety, or more sex.

A real chef works in complete harmony with their surroundings and engages his local community as much as possible. He or she would never be a spokesperson for a diet soda or any soda because he is food/drink role model condoning a false food system. A real chef takes on apprentices and guides them, tutors them, and encourages them for the rest of their lives. Chefs are mentors, always.
A real chef designs and creates his own methods and tools to get the results he dreams and obsesses over every night.
A real chef maintains a realistic food cost, doesn’t self-promote at the expense of others and makes money for his partners.

A real chef is a shepherd of the earth’s bounty while at all times keeping in mind her limits and her sustainability.

And that’s all I have to say about that… (for now…:)

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“Should I open a restaurant?” #ifuckingdareya

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So the plans are done. Now it’s time to dream themes and colors and emotion. What do I want you feeling when you walk in?

Like you just got home.

This new space has to tell 75% of the story instantly as you walk in and deliver the remaining 25% slowly over the next 25 visits, a slow burn. Details are key.

Because building restaurants is like telling stories. It’s just like making a movie. You have layers and layers of depth and imagery. If you design a space that delivers the whole story on the first visit you will not have any longevity, because you are only giving one story to tell. Word of mouth is the best possible advertising. Hands down. And there is no word of mouth if you do not give stories for people to tell. Basics, really.

This is where the fun is anyway. The real fun in building and designing a restaurant concept is in the storytelling through food and design. And that’s also where you will find a good restaurant’s soul. Second and just as important are the people you hire to run it. Who are they? The people you hire have to be your disciples. You have to have convinced them completely that what they are about to work on is special. You have to pick staff more for personality and energy than for experience. You can teach someone how to open wine but you can’t teach him or her how to smile. It’s hospitality. H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L-I-T-Y. As in hospitable. As in happy to see you.

“Welcome back, Jameson rocks again? Light on the ice? How’s the wife?”

You can’t teach someone hospitality. You either like people or you don’t give a fuck. You can’t force a smile. It just doesn’t work. And I’m not saying I’m of that breed that is naturally hospitable. I’m not. So I know not to hire myself to work as a host. No way in hell.

People with great energy make a great restaurant. It’s infectious. You take a great warm space add good people and consistent food? You’re packed. Throw some cool fun things in to watch while you are eating, and you have now increased conversation at every table. It’s perfect for dates and groups. That same conversation is why people left the house in the first place. You see where I’m going here.

It’s the whole experience that you must consider with a new restaurant.

It’s all five senses, and most of all the sixth sense, which is simply, love.

The sixth sense in a restaurant project: it feels like someone did this place because they just couldn’t contain their love for it. It just had to happen. You had an idea and it literally took over your entire being until you finally brought it to life. It’s the only reason to do it. If you do not feel love so strongly for your restaurant project, I beg you, please do not build it. Just wait until you finally do, because you must be able to translate all that love into bricks and mortar, flavors and aromas, life and theater, style and emotion.

It’s a tall bill. That’s why so many restaurants fail.

It’s like throwing a party for the next ten years and expecting no one to get tired of attending. And it’s not always clear why something doesn’t work and why something does. There are so many variables, it’s astounding. And that’s the rush. There is nothing else, in terms of other businesses, which even comes close in comparison to opening a restaurant. It’s so fucking personal. Because you can taste love just like you can hear a smile on the phone. These are things you can’t fake. You have to create in a restaurant a completely three dimensional, fully sensual, repeat artistic performance everyday. It’s like a Broadway play you eat.

I have failed twice in the restaurant business. I will fail again. You only know why after you fail. And it hurts like a bitch. But the stories you will tell afterwards and the lessons you will learn are incomparable to any school or university or anything else you will ever know. You will learn more in a shorter period of time than in any other endeavor. The full spectacle of life is on full throttle in a restaurant.

The real question is, and people come to me everyday asking,

“Should I open a restaurant?”

My answer? I fucking dare you. It’s like having a baby. You think you are ready for it until the baby shows up and then you are like… I had no fucking idea. Yet we just can’t stop doing it, can we? I’m totally addicted to it. I can’t stop dreaming concepts. I can’t shut it the fuck down. And what better place to play this restaurant game than New York City? Aren’t we all so incredibly lucky to have this place? Thousands of spaces all crammed together all taking a shot at it. Hey, let’s open a restaurant! Why the fuck not?

Gigantic nuts all of you.

And that’s all I have to say about that for now… and for every original place that works, affecting every restaurant that opens after it, affecting the culture of food in front of our very eyes. And even for every place that doesn’t work scarring us in some ways. We feel for them. It’s a full spectacle train wreck that stays ingrained. Can anyone name me anything more incredible than to watch unfold the progression of a restaurant’s life on the streets of Manhattan? If it’s in your area and it’s good it instantly becomes a part of your everyday life. It might as well be your living room and kitchen. You meet your new girlfriend there, you propose there, you contemplate kids, you celebrate a new job, all in your favorite restaurants. You sit for long lunches and stare out at the whole city going by. You meet your next collaborators. Your waiter knows how you like your coffee. And therein lies the joy of creating a restaurant like that. When it works it’s one of the most satisfying experiences in the world.

And that’s why I do it. I do it for the people I imagine enjoying it. It’s somehow simultaneously full of self yet selfless.

It’s art.


Lucid Dream (A spontaneous interpretation)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dream:
I’m driving fast in the left lane, guy comes out in the road out of nowhere trying to get hit, I swerve to miss him and the force of the sharp turn makes one of my breasts comes off in my hand. I woke up with the image of a perfect plump breast (not mine) with a perfect brown nipple in my hand undamaged with me imagining how to put it back on. I was driving a Porche roadster convertible.
I always have the most vivid memories of my dreams when I go back to sleep after waking up too early and I’m awakened by a noise. I’m not going to be able to shake that image of the supple breast in my hand for months (not sure I ever want to).

Now since everything in my dream is supposed to represent myself (Jung) let’s take a gander at what this might all mean.

The roadster speeding down the road? Me taking risks, looking 4 thrills, jumping into life, going head first with no safety net (convertible).
The man in road trying to get hit? Me trying to catch a bullet, me jumping on a train, or being self destructive, or trying to slow down.
The breast coming off unharmed, beautiful and healthy? A part of myself comes off and takes on a life of it’s own? Rebirth, creation by fire.
Me questioning how to put it back on myself but knowing its more beautiful now w/out me? Creation. An idea coming alive, vibrant and independent.
Wow that’s pretty crazy if I’m right about it. That’s how it felt to me also.

I’m going into a major creative phase right now with a new project. I treat all my projects the same. As an entrepreneur (in true sense of word) I bring my projects to life and then let them live on organically. I don’t always have a true idea of exactly what I want. Instead I have a feeling of what it should be so there is the risk or “speeding car” Me in the road trying to stop or hit the car is again me trying to nail the feeling or gist of that idea but I must somehow let go of it too. Because you can not be possessive or obsessive about your ideas.
You MUST allow others into it.
You MUST sell it and inspire others to jump on it.
The breast in my hand was so beautiful. It was really like a birth and me the proud parent of the creation but again a feeling of loss as well and the idea in my head of how do I put it back on. How do I now retain ownership of something that is now so independent yet a part of me.
This is EXACTLY how I feel about everything I have created and I swear to you this all just happened here on twitter in real time after my dream. I really don’t know if I am right about my analysis of the dream, but it sure feels right. All the things I have done I have had to let go of in many ways to move onto other ideas, and there is alot of separation anxiety with that, BUT I always leave the project in the hands of people I trust because I know they feel and understand the SOUL of the idea itself.

I cannot stop creating things and building things. If I do I die. The last three years have been all about this entity @theunknownchef (events that were out of my control grounded me for three years) It is very unusual for me to work like I have been here in an abstract space. Without a tangible physical creation. Just 0’s and 1’s. I want you all to understand the entity @theunknownchef is the personification of that frustration of NOT BEING ABLE to do something tangible. It also represents me in my RAW uncensored state. It really ISN’T me on so many levels. It is instead me on ONE LEVEL, but now I find myself in a conundrum. My main artistic energies now need to again be put into the physical world for a new project, and that is (unlike twitter) an all consuming thing. I must live and breathe this new project from deep in my soul. I must give it it’s due and then one day I must dispel it to live on it’s own and become what it will be organically with only my guidance and love of it. Like that soft supple breast in my hand from my dream I will look at it, love it and occasionally drink of it’s nutritious milk (pride).

and that’s all I have to say about that… (for now…)

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Recipe- fava puree

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So I made a killer fava potato purée today. Served it with seared black kale, organic fennel and pencil asparagus. The purée was easy. Fresh shucked fava bean, whole cloves of toasted garlic, virgin olive oil and Yukon golds. I cooked the potatoes in water till soft and whipped ‘em up with the chopped shucked blanched favas (that I pureed a bit in a food processor) some of the cooking water the toasted garlic and a GENEROUS AMOUNT of EVOO. To serve I made a well in the purée, floated a nice tablespoon of EVOO in it, seared the fennel quickly in EVOO and some coarse salt along with kale and the asparagus. The great thing about that fava potato purée (besides being healthy) is that it is very versatile and works with almost any seared/steamed vegetable. It’s also amazing room temp; just spread like a crostino on a great crusty grilled Pugliese bread. Doit!


Recipes – Puttanesca

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So quick Puttanesca method for you guys… Love this pasta. Choose Penne or even Bucatini for this sauce.

Puttanesca (the pasta of the whores)

Capers from Pantelleria, anchovies packed in salt, Gaeta and green Sicilian olives, chunky tomato sauce, shaved garlic, oregano and s spicy EVOO.
Lightly chop the capers and olives.
Put your EVOO over medium heat in a saucepan, and when hot add your anchovies, mash them into the oil till they dissolve into it (this is important)
Then add your garlic and sweat it for a couple minutes.
Add your tomato sauce, bring to a boil then add the olives and capers, oregano and torn parsley.
At this point your sauce is ready to be tossed with your freshly cooked ALDENTE pasta.
NO CHEESE PLEASE.
Just finish with more spicy olive oil and/or fresh pepperoncino
Now a few notes:
Amounts are equal parts capers to olives and you can go heavy or light on the two depending on your salt tolerance
Anchovies are INTEGRAL to the dish (it is called puttanesca afterall,) and you should figure minimum about 2-3 anchovies per pint of sauce needed and max to your taste (I live for great anchovies)
To vary the dish slightly (especially in the summer) use halved cherry tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and thank me profusely immediately after
If you really feel like you need to put cheese on this pasta (please don’t tell me who you are) put well seasoned toasted breadcrumbs instead. Puttanesca is not for wimps who claim they hate anchovies and omit them
It’s the best version of tomato sauce EVER.
It’s a great late night pasta for after the clubs or after work or after sex.
I even like it cold the next day for breakfast just fry and egg into it when you heat the pasta up in a nice sized sauté pan add more oil and a lil liquid to the pan and you are GOLDEN


Rants – CONTRIBUTE to the BALANCE of the BOUNTY of nature

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thinking about eating watermelon in the summer and then I start thinking about how much that just makes complete sense and is so healthy… And then I start thinking about eating seasonally and how healthy that JUST MUST BE for like obvious reasons and that should be the norm for us. But it’s not.
Its not even a concern to consider an EVOLVED NORM for our species as far as listening to the earth and our own bodies. And why would there be an EVOLVED NORM for diet and agriculture when we are still arguing about WHY we should bother to stop polluting our home? It is a soulful decision to eat locally and with the seasons and a trendy one but make no mistake a good one, nonetheless.

Cooking and Rhyming with the seasons is a gorgeous life to live. Full of watermelon in Summer and squash in Fall… It seems so anatomically correct to eat and enjoy these things with others; to share the experience of the bounty, the bounty of nature. It also seems good to give thanks.
And mean it.
Thanks for the blessings of this bounty of nature we all seem to take for granted at times. And it also just seems respectful to contribute.
To CONTRIBUTE to the BALANCE of the BOUNTY of nature.
That just makes sense. Yup.
So how do we contribute? EASY, so easy. Eat seasonally. Do it in groups. Enjoy it. Talk about how to make it better. Eat again. Drink well. Oh and one more thing… try and grow shit. As much as possible, wherever possible. And we mean it. Why is it too much to ask to have an EVOLVED system? How can we still be arguing about the silly stuff? We know what we should eat yet we don’t, so why? Imagine a system designed to work in harmony with our earth and our species. Something so perfect can be nothing but the answer for us all. That system is surely a NATURAL ONE. Void of commerce but rich in good minds and ideas. Minds devoid of incentives other than mankind itself. I just don’t think it’s too much to ask to have an evolved agriculture system in place by now. Incas/Romans/Etruscans all had it.
Why don’t we?


RECIPES – PASTA POMODORINI

Monday, August 16, 2010

So a quick pasta pomodorini recipe for the summer with pictures… Start by cutting all your cherry/pear tomatoes in half with a sharp knife. Then in a sauté pan or a shallow wok pan toast slices of garlic till brown on edges in extra virgin over low heat. Add in your tomatoes and sauté them till they are soft enough to smash with a potato smasher, then add a lil’ water and reserve. Finally, cook your pasta (farro penne is pictured) till a nice al dente and then toss immediately with the tomatoes!