Chefs on Chefs is a new column written by Chef Greg Gilbert of Jackson Wheeler in Pleasantville, NY. He interviewed Jonathan Pratt who owns Peter Pratt’s Inn, Umami Café and MexToGo.
Greg: How did you get into the restaurant business?
Jonathan: Family obligation; when I was 6 years old I had a choice of babysitting or washing dishes. I figured that having to help the dishwasher was a cheap alternative to babysitting.
Greg: What is unique about your restaurant/ kitchen from other restaurants in the area?
Jonathan: Peter Pratt’s Inn has a history dating back to pre-revolutionary times. You could not recreate that special feeling or ambiance of a 260 year old house. The Umami Café is simply the best utilized space. I learned to never hire a cook with more than a 29 inch waist. MexToGo is simple. I always wanted a take-out joint.
Greg: What is your favorite ingredient for this season?
Jonathan: Yorktown corn and tomatoes from Meadows Farm.
Greg:How are you using these in your menus?
Jonathan: Gazpacho with Raw Tuna at the Inn and Corn and Tomato Chowder which is a seasonal favorite at Umami.
Greg: Do you have favorite dishes on the menu?
Jonathan: I would have to say Fajitas at the Inn, Corn and Tomato Chowder at Umami and Chicken Tinga Burrito at MexToGo.
Greg: What’s the strangest or funniest experience you’ve had in the business?
Jonathan: In a major snowstorm 20 years ago we decided to open the restaurant, since we lived there. We figured that if nobody came in we would have ourselves a small party. We ended up with 25 people; the funny part about is that they could not drive so they showed up by horse, snowmobile & cross-country skis.
Greg: What one person would you best like to cook for?
Jonathan: Simple. My wife.
Greg: Do you have a favorite drink and a place to have it?
Jonathan: A glass of killer Burgundy on the porch of my friend’s hunting cabin.
Greg: What has been your most memorable meal?
Jonathan: It would be my wife’s Hawaiian Pork dish. She was my girlfriend at the time and prepared this dish at her apartment in Queens. It was so amazing that I knew I had to marry her. You can find this dish on our menu at Umami.
Greg: What do you like to cook at home?
Jonathan: I make a pretty damn good curry with all the condiments so I would have to say Indian food.
Greg: When you’re not at home or in the restaurant where do you like to eat?
Jonathan. Wild Ginger in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Greg: Do you have a favorite dish when you dine out?
Jonathan: Anything spicy. The foods that make your gums bleed.
Greg: I would imagine that friends are afraid to cook for you?
Jonathan: Yeah, what’s up with that? They get nervous or they don’t invite us. Or they say things like, "I know it is not as good as yours." Like I care, just pass the damn eggplant.
To learn more about Jonathan Pratt go to www.prattsinn.com.