Chefs on Chefs

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.

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About the Author: Chef Greg Gilbert