Already well known in Brooklyn for his commitment to sustainability (having reduced 95% of waste at Colonie, and helped farm purveyors obtain certified organic status), Whitcomb caught Meyer’s discerning eye, after a meal at his Atlantic Avenue restaurant. Originally tapped to teach classes at the Melting Pot Foundation, a shared culinary philosophy eventually led to a bigger, full-time ask, and Whitcomb running the kitchen at the day-to-night eatery, in Greenpoint’s artist co-working space.
“I feel like I’m an apprentice again,” Whitcomb said of his collaboration with the acclaimed, innovative duo. “I could work on a dish 100 times and think it’s perfect, then I’ll hand it to them and they’ll take it to a whole other level, whether by adding an element or adjusting the spices, so they hit a different part of your palate.”
“Picking someone’s brain that has a huge wealth of knowledge and experience is invaluable,” he adds. “And it’s kind of honed and refined the food I’ve always been interested in cooking.”
Which, it turns out, is not that far off from Berselius and Meyer’s own, Scandinavia-borne styles, from a mutual passion for fermented items, rye breads and pickled eggs (all part of Whitcomb’s childhood diet in Maine), to a strict commitment to seasonality, simplicity and scrupulous sourcing, expressed in offerings like soured oats sweetened with blackstrap molasses and pear during breakfast, crab toast topped with dill pollen and radish at lunch, and scallop crudo teamed with mustard and apple for dinner.
“Restrained cooking presents an extreme challenge in that you can’t hide. Everything has to be bright and fresh and perfect,” said Whitcomb. “It’s also tricky working with ingredients Americans might not be all that familiar with. But having a whole new arsenal of products at my disposal is super interesting to me. It’s like I’ve hit the reset button as a chef, and have a whole world of flavors and techniques to experience and figure out.”
29 Norman Ave,(347) 966-2092, Greenpoint
Photos by Jane Bruce