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Q & A with Craig Hopson

Craig Hopson inadvertently stumbled
into the kitchen as a means to supplement his daily surfing habit while
growing up in Australia.  From there he traveled through Europe,
training in such esteemed kitchens as Restaurant Guy Savoy in France before returning to Australia to launch his own eatery, Circa Restaurant.  He moved to New York City to work alongside Terrance Brennan at both Artisanal and Picholine, earning himself a reputation for injecting bold and innovative flavors into French classics.  Tapped to run the kitchen at One
if By Land, Two if By Sea
,
Hopson has successfully transformed the menu from American to
continental French fare with inventive global influences, such as beef
Wellington with foie gras sabayon and soft shell crabs with squid ink
linguine and paella broth.

Single/Married/Divorced?
Happily involved.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Professional surfer.

What was your first job in food?
It was in a hotel/ motel in Geraldton, Australia, there was a restaurant and we also did pub food.

You
inadvertently stumbled into the kitchen as a means to supplement your
daily surfing habits in Perth,  Australia.  How did growing up on the
coast of Australia influence your cooking?
I was exposed to a lot of fresh seafood and also a lot of diverse cuisines.

You’ve
spent a significant amount of time traveling around the world honing
your craft, and many of the dishes on One if By Land’s menu reflect
both Asian as well as European flavors.  What cuisines and travel
experiences have been the most influential for you?
I
have always worked in french  restaurants   , here, Australia and in
France, but I love flavors from all around the world and that is what I
seek out to add to my cooking. I cook with the French technique that
but I aim to make every dish exciting and memorable, so I use flavors
and ingredients from around the world.

Prior to
your current position at One if by Land, you worked with chef Terrance
Brennan at both Artisanal, then Picholine.  What did you learn there
and how has working in Brennan’s kitchens shaped your present cooking
techniques?
Attention to detail. Bringing out the maximum
flavor in evrything that is on the plate and to use bold assertive
flavors. Also to taste, taste, taste!

After four years as chef de cuisine at Picholine, what compelled you to make the move to One if By Land, Two if by Sea? 
I was ready for a change. I was very happy with what I achieved there, but it was time to take on another challenge.

How do you feel One if By Land has changed since you’ve been there? 


I believe
that the food has obviously changed for the better, but as well the
service and the hospitality of the staff has improved. We freshened the
decor so the room is still the classic but it doesnt look or feel old.
The way the kitchen operates on my part, is completely different, the
way we work has changed 360 degrees.

What is your favorite dish on the spring menu?
Large
local sepia, its grilled a la plancha and served with a pineapple, pink
peppercorn salad with thai basil and a pineapple jus.

What is your least favorite (and yes, you must pick one)?…

What is your least favorite (and yes, you must pick one)?
The beef wellington, i do my best but its such a hard dish to execute perfectly every time.

Which culinary trends do you embrace?
Sustainabillity, we are depleting our natural resources, so
alternative farming/fishing/grazing tecniques must be found, and
exploring aquaculture especially.

Are there any trends you wish would just die already?
Over-worded menus, we dont need to know where the carrots came from
or that the duck was cooked sous vide, its expected that we get good
carrots and cook the duck the best way possible.

What’s your junk food of choice?
Corn chips and salsa.

What’s next on the horizon for you?
To continue to improve the restaurant and myself, try new things and see where the next stage in this profession will take me

Phone: (212)255-8649
Address: 17 Barrow Street, btwn. Bleecker St. & West 4th St.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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