From the Kitchen of: Graham Duncan

From recycling to choosing fuel-efficient vehicles, being “green” is quickly becoming a focus in every part of our lives. Finding such “green” fare just became much easier for Washingtonians, with the opening of Founding Farmers. With sustainable agriculture at the heart of its menu and environmentally safe measures built into the 8,500-square-foot space, Founding Farmers is designed to meet Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) certification criteria, and Certified Green Restaurant operational standards, noteworthy efforts that will distinguish this restaurant from others claiming ‘farm fresh’ or ‘green’ in their descriptions. Led by Chef Graham Duncan, Founding Farmers will offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and Sunday supper with menus that include all homemade traditional American classics inspired by the heartland. We were able to snag a few minutes of Chef Duncan’s time to learn more about him before the restaurant’s grand opening tomorrow!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A good maple wooden spoon – you can use it for anything in the kitchen.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Foam. It was a novel idea when it was first practiced in Spain, but eating foam as food is just silly to me.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Definitely Italian Mediterranean. My wife and I spent two and a half months in Europe for our honeymoon, and once we tasted that food we said to each other that we should never go home.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Trickling Springs Farm, who supplies most of our dairy. The people are extremely nice and their product is phenomenal.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
That’s difficult to say in a customer service field – but I’d have to say people who season their food before they taste it.

What do you drink/eat after work?
Last night I had cold pizza and a Blue Moon – that’s pretty much as far back as I can remember in the midst of opening the restaurant!

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Bread and roast chicken. I have a great bread recipe where you mix flour, water, and yeast at night – no stirring, no kneading – and in the morning, pop it in the oven and watch it rise. With roast chicken, I just put it in the oven and walk away, which gives me more time to spend with my family.

Click below for Chef Graham’s recipe for Cornbread-Crusted Strawberry and Rhubarb Cobbler

Cornbread-Crusted Strawberry and Rhubarb Cobbler

For the fruit:
1 pound rhubarb, thick stalks halved vertically, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices (4 to 4 ½ cups)
1 pound strawberries, hulled, large ones cut into eighths, medium ones cut into quarters, small ones halved (about 3 cups)
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the topping:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat or regular buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the fruit: combine the rhubarb, strawberries, almond extract, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl, mixing to coat the fruit.

For the topping: Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, mixing well.

Whisk together the buttermilk, egg and melted butter in a large measuring cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and stir just until combined to form a thick batter.

To assemble: Pour the fruit into a shallow, medium baking dish (2 ½-to-3-quart capacity), then spoon the topping over the fruit; it should not completely cover the fruit. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the topping begins to brown and fruit juices are bubbling at the edges of the cobbler. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

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Filed under Food, Interview, Recipes, Restaurants

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