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Q & A with Harold Moore

Co-owner and executive chef Harold Moore has returned to the New York dining scene with Commerce. Moore is a chef whose resume is as

impressive as his commitment to his new restaurant.  After spending time in both Daniel
Boulud’s and Jean-Georges’ kitchens, Moore further developed his
classic approach to contemporary American cuisine at Montrachet and March.  At Commerce, his repertoire includes a porterhouse steak with cipollini onions, creamed spinach, and red wine
shallot sauce as well as oysters
with champagne, potatoes, leeks, and a decadent touch of caviar.

Status: Single/Married/Divorced

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was always
drawn to high-stress occupations that were financially rewarding. I
used to think about working on Wall Street or being a lawyer. Clearly,
those thoughts didn’t last too long.

What was your first job in food?
I was the very busy
“Toast Boy” at a diner in New Jersey. It was my sole job to make the
toast during the breakfast and brunch rush. And it was a rough gig. You
have no idea how picky people are about the “doneness” of their toast.

Much has been made about the restaurants $100,000 Anthanor oven and range in Commerce’s kitchen. Do brag about it…
have to say that it’s the best. It’s French, custom-made to my
specifications, and it give off perfectly even heat. It’s really a

What compelled you to take a year off from cooking to work on a
tomato farm? Would you recommend the farm experience to all chefs at
some point in their careers?

Honestly, I had just left
Montrachet and was in between jobs and I wanted to earn some money to
buy Springsteen tickets. Looking back it was a great experience though.
I gave me some perspective on where the ingredients come from and how
much work is put into getting it right. I would recommend that
experience of other chefs.

How has the experience of being an owner at Commerce been different then being the chef in your previous restaurant stints?
always been a little too involved in things other than the kitchen. I
would comment on the service sometimes…especially if it affected the
food.  As an employee, it got me into trouble sometimes. But as an
owner, I have that right now. It’s definitely more stressful being an
owner. You think a lot more about money.

You earned your first real recognition at Montrachet where you
were able to step out from behind the shadows of chefs like
Jean-Georges and Daniel Boulud.  What do you learn from that experience?

was always shy and at Montrachet I couldn’t be anymore. Drew did a
great job urging me out of that and making sure I got out into the
dining room to talk about the food and make my personality known.

The restaurants bread basket has gotten quite a bit of acclaim.
Which bread is your favorite?  Do you participate in the 5pm pretzel
rolling before service every evening?

My favorite bread is
the Roasted Pepper Olive Roll. But I also love the burnt ends of the
Epi. I try to get in on the pretzel rolling everyday, but sometime I’m
caught up with some other prep. It’s fun though.

You worked for two of the best chefs in the city (and country) in
Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges.  Which chef’s style of cooking would
you say is closer to yours?

I think I’m closer in style to Daniel. I really draw on that experience as I was there at a formative time in my career.

What was your intention by the section of the menu devoted to sharing?
section gives diners a chance to eat in a way they don’t get to at a
lot of other restaurants. It’s festive to share and it gives the food a
homestyle quality. It’s also fun for my guys in the kitchen to cook in
an old fashioned way.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu right now, and why?
Beef Tataki is always my favorite because it reminds me of my
Grandmother. She is Japanese and used to cook beef tataki for me as a
kid. I could eat it everyday.

What’s your least favorite dish (and yes, you must pick one)?
My Salad of 20 herbs sells like crazy. I like the dish, but I don’t really get what all the hype is about.

What is your junk food of choice?
Smartfood Popcorn.

Other than your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
I really like Babbo. I’ve been there 8 times or so and it’s always consistent, easy and the food is really good.

What culinary trend do you most embrace?
Sous-Vide cooking. There’s nothing like it.

What trend do you wish would die already?
I’m a little sick of hearing about everyone’s meat balls.

What’s next on the horizon for you?  Any new ventures or restaurants in the
works?  Spill the beans…

I’m just trying to keep up with service at Commerce…

Address: 50 Commerce St.
Phone: (212) 524-2301

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