Back Forty West Chef Peter Hoffman on the Foods He Won’t Serve: Interview Part 2


Yesterday we spoke with Peter Hoffman, the chef/owner of Back Forty and its new spin-off, Back Forty West, and he told us all about the best days to visit the Greenmarket and how he got into the locavore movement. Today he looks back on his long career in New York City and reveals his all-time favorite meal.

You’ve been in the restaurant business a long time. What have been the important lessons you’ve learned?

Staying flexible is important, and having transformed Savoy into a new restaurant is an important demonstration of that. Our work is always changing, and we can’t stay stuck in what we do and what we think. This corner [where Savoy was and Back Forty West is located] is a very different place than in 1990 when we started, and even very different than it was in 2002.

What would you say makes a restaurant concept successful in New York?

There’s something about tying together all the elements. That the style of food and the style of room and the feeling of the service, from the greeting at the door or on the telephone, relate to each other. Sometimes you go to a place and the food concept doesn’t match the room or the services. Integration is important.

What’s your all-time favorite thing to eat?

My wife and I keep coming back to a great salad, a great roasted piece of pork, and a type of pie.

And you know, Pi(e) day was yesterday! What’s your favorite type of pie?

Well, what’s available at the moment now is apple, and that makes me happy.

Do you have any foods you don’t like or have banned from the restaurant?

Let’s see — well, there are certain endangered animals that we don’t serve here, so no bluefin tuna or Chilean sea bass. I’m not really interested in foie gras. And people shouldn’t eat brains since we don’t really know what’s going on with that.

Finally, what are some professional kitchen tips that you think work in the home kitchen?

One thing I always do is I always cook more than what I want so I get another meal out of it or I don’t cook the entire cut that I buy. If I buy a shoulder of pork, I don’t cook the whole thing. I’ll cook off a piece so it’s not about leftovers from the night before but getting trimming that then goes into a stir-fry. I always want more than one meal from my protein.