The entire staff at Take Root, a 12-seat restaurant in Brooklyn, numbers two: Elise Kornack in the kitchen, her wife Anna Hieronimus out front.
Kornack does the ordering, the prepping, the cooking, the plating and, often the serving. She then washes all the dishes, locks the door, walks 25 feet down the street to their apartment, sleeps, wakes, drinks a cup of coffee in bed (from Gowanus shop Crop to Cup) and does it all over again.
Plenty of chefs claim to understand the plight of the home cook--the lack of an immersion circulator, the notable absence of a kitchen staff--but Kornack is one of few who really knows. She singlehandedly produces every bite of the 10-course tasting menu served at Take Root, a feat that requires both mindful planning and smart shortcuts.
We were instantly charmed by one of Kornack's tricks: blanching soft herbs (like mint, cilantro and basil) then packing them into ice cube trays, topping them with a little water and freezing them. When she wants to add herbs to a dish, she uses a Microplane-style grater on the frozen herb blocks, which means there's no cutting board or knife to clean.
We're also smitten with her recipe for Beans and Greens (see the recipe), a meal she and Hieronimus eat at least twice a month and a recipe Kornack calls "near and dear to my heart."
Though it isn't representative of the food she serves at Take Root, its underlying philosophy of coaxing big flavor from humble ingredients--in this case, cannellini beans, kale, sage and garlic--is straight from the chef's playbook.