Like a background character in a Pearl Buck novel, Robert Levitt was bent over and coated in mud. He isn’t a Chinese field hand but a chef from New York. Robert has partnered with two friends and is shaping a new restaurant in the Lincoln Square area of Chicago. So why is this man, a well-practiced professional of culinary subtleties, standing in mud in Fairbury, Illinois, a 2.5 hour drive from Chicago? Ramps! He is pulling and cleaning ramps!
Ramps are from the onion family. While familiar, the flavor of ramps is unique. Like the difference between the taste of just-picked, just-squeezed Valencia oranges versus reconstituted frozen juice, the same and better. Flavor and character are contributed by both the bulbs and the shoots of ramps when prepared together with other ingredients.
What is equally unique is that Robert’s quest to examine every aspect of what he does and how he does it adds energy and flavor to each preparation. His is not a pursuit for perfection but a commitment to improvement. Each dining opportunity is successful if what he does contributes to the overall experience of the diner. By his exploration of ramps as a catalyst, adding new and different to familiar and tested, Robert and his colleagues demonstrate their commitment to themselves as professionals and to the pleasure of the patrons they serve. Robert Levitt, Fiddlehead Cafe, Chicago
By recognizing and appreciating the values, efforts and energies of those that make a difference we hope to make our own contribution.
Note, Noted, and Noticed: This is the first in a new series of email missives from Essex Two. We hope to introduce you to people and ideas we feel that, by their actions and talent, add value to their lives and to those of others. With that in mind, we acknowledge the recognition of one of our partners. In a ceremony last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art, AIGA/Chicago presented Joseph Michael Essex with its Fellow Award. This award, from the largest professional association for design in the country, recognizes Joseph’s “significant contributions to raising the standards of excellence in practice and conduct within the design community.” We are very proud of our colleague and AIGA’s commitment to acknowledging those who demonstrate leadership by example.
We see what you’re saying.SM
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