Bruce Kalman, former head chef at The Churchill, left the stress and strife of professional kitchens earlier this year for a more Zen-like pursuit.
In other words, he became a professional pickle-maker.
"I've always loved pickling," says Kalman. "When you put great ingredients in the jar you get a great result."
Those who remember The Churchill's popular pickle plate will be delighted by Prime Pickles' six varieties ($10 to $13 a jar), made from the chef's personal recipes.
The pickling process (Photo: Bruce Kalman)
In one jar, Kalman amps ups hulking kirby cucumbers with horseradish and garlic, a riff on the delicatessen half-sours he grew up eating. In another, he pairs cauliflower and golden raisins with aromatic curry spices. The crunchy "Chi-town" giardiniere, a staff favorite, is an ideal topping for a salami sandwich.
We couldn't get enough of the Bloody Mary asparagus spears flavored with tomato juice, celery and fresno chiles--equally delicious as a garnish for their namesake drink or out of the jar as a midday snack.
Kalman's new venture hasn't relaxed his standards either: He insists on hand-packing each jar using high-quality ingredients, such as Hepp's Salt, Sparrow Lane vinegar and produce from local farmers he's worked with for years.
"I approach it just as I did when I was chef," he explains, "which means doing just about everything yourself."
You can take the chef out of the restaurant...
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