Despite earning the nickname “Shorty” among his peers in the industry, Josh Eden has always risen above the challenges presented by cooking on the world’s biggest stage. A mentee of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, his notable previous employments include executive chef positions at JoJo and Dune Restaurant. Eden is currently the head chef of August in New York City’s West Village. We caught up with him at Food Republic’s Test Kitchen to talk about Thanksgiving memories, cooking tips and the tiring trend of using yuzu. Say those last two words five times fast. We dare ya.
What are your earliest Thanksgiving memories growing up?
My earliest Thanksgiving memories would be with my aunt and uncle, at their house in Long Island. We used to go out there and do Thanksgiving dinner out there.
They would cook?
My aunt would cook.
Do you cook at home usually for Thanksgiving?
I normally do a big Thanksgiving dinner at home, but this year I think we are going to do it at the restaurant, and maybe I’ll invite some family or something like that.
So August is going to be open on Thanksgiving?
Yes, for dinner. We’re going to offer a prix fixe menu of sorts: we’re going to have four appetizers and four entrées. We’ll be open from around 1 to 6, with two seatings and it should be fun. We will definitely offer turkey and all the proper fixings but there will be other items as well.
Has the menu been changing at all at August?
Oh, yeah. It’s in the midst of changing right now. I got some sunchokes, some chestnuts, a bunch of things.
How are you going to use the chestnuts?
I’m going to roast the chestnuts and serve them with lobster.
Do you like turkey yourself?
What’s your favorite non-conventional side dish for the holiday?
String beans with garlic, but cold. Fried garlic, string beans, salt and sugar: it should taste a little bit like day-old Chinese food.
In a good way…?
In a good way. What’s better than Chinese food cold the next day? [laughs]
Speaking of day-old food, what’s your go-to leftover recipe?
How do you make that?
The same way I make chicken soup, but with turkey [laughs]. Pretty easy.
What’s a tip you would give someone inexperienced cooking turkey for Thanksgiving?
Don’t stuff it and don’t overcook it.
Why not stuff it?
It’s an easy way to get people sick, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. Make your stuffing on the side, put it in a casserole with bacon.
What’s most important with turkey?
Certainly get a fresh turkey, free-range if you can. Not everybody has the opportunity to – if you’re not going to get a free-range turkey, brine it overnight. If you cook it the right way, very slowly and properly, you shouldn’t have any problems with it.
What’s your favorite protein outside of turkey?
I’m a meat man. I’ll get down on a dry aged prime sirloin or ribeye any day!
What is a food trend you are sick of hearing about?
I am over drinking yuzu, how does that sound?
Why do people put it on their menus?
It’s something that I think people thought was interesting for awhile, but come on. It’s just a fancy word… It’s just a different type of citrus.
What have you seen it on that has made you skeptical?
I’ve just seen it on everything. For a while there, everyone was just using yuzu, yuzu, yuzu. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use it and that there are some fine applications for it, but I think we have just seen it all the time.
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