Top chef JJ Johnson wants to bring the spork back to Harlem

Top chef JJ Johnson wants to bring the spork back to Harlem




At the new restaurant FieldTrip, the utensil of different could ship prospects on a nostalgic journey.

“We’re bringing back the spork!” says the fast-casual spot’s mastermind, James Beard Award semifinalist chef JJ Johnson.

The spoon-fork hybrid is a superb provide methodology for the Harlem restaurant’s star participant: rice. The menu choices 5 kinds of the grain from spherical the world, each paired with a particular sauce-drenched protein. Salmon ($11.99) comes atop chewy China Black Rice, and is served with pineapple and zesty Piri Piri, whereas crispy hen ($9.99) is smothered in barbecue sauce and paired with Carolina Gold, beloved by cooks and recognized for its rich, barely sweet model.

“The rice dictates the flavor of the bowl,” Johnson says.

FieldTrip is decidedly additional casual than Johnson’s completely different ventures, which favor standard utensils. The 34-year-old put his title on the culinary map as the chef at Harlem’s the Cecil, the place he cooked vibrant, elevated dishes impressed by West African and Asian cultures. He left that restaurant in 2017 and went on to perform head chef at Henry at Life Hotel, reworking the historic Nomad home proper right into a Pan-African scorching spot with an R&B soundtrack. Now, with FieldTrip, he’s aiming to make his worldwide fare accessible and fairly priced, offering healthful, zesty bowls amid the neighborhood’s sea of fast meals.

“There [are] so many Chipotles and Popeyes, but you can’t eat that every day,” says Johnson, who lives in Harlem alongside together with his partner and 2-year-old twins.

‘Most Americans are eating rice that’s each mushy or undercooked.’

The chef hasn’t always been a fan of what’s develop into his main grain.

“I hated rice growing up,” says Johnson, who was raised in Pennsylvania by a family with roots in Harlem, the South, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico. He not-so-fondly remembers the bland packaged stuff his “aunties” used to make. “I wasn’t eating rice cooked right.”

But on a go-to Ghana with restaurateur Alexander Smalls, who owns the Cecil, Johnson had a perfectly prepared, flavor-packed jollof rice dish that changed his ideas about the staple meals.

“Most Americans are eating rice that’s either mushy or undercooked,” he says.

At FieldTrip, he sources his rice from small farms, and most are freshly milled and by no means enriched, so it requires refrigeration and, in accordance with Johnson, is additional nutritious and easier to digest. The starch is cooked slowly — usually for up to an hour — and left to steam to get hold of the right consistency.

“It’s toothy, and that’s the way it should be,” Johnson says. “It has to have a bite to it.”

Open Wednesday by the use of Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 109 Malcolm X Blvd.; 917-639-3919, FieldTrip NYCTop chef JJ Johnson wants to bring the spork back to Harlem




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