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Chef & Partner Markus Glocker Talks Opening Bâtard, Reinterpreting Classical Cuisine, and Memories of Charlie Trotter
- Sunday, 06 July 2014 19:41 | Written by Moemu C. Seo
Austrian-born Chef Markus Glocker is no foreigner when it comes to the kitchen world. You may last remember him as the former executive chef of Gordon Ramsay at The London, where the restaurant retained two Michelin stars during his tenure. With other names such as Eckart Witzigmann and Charlie Trotter in his multinational résumé, Chef Markus Glocker has made a grand return as Chef de Cuisine and Partner of the newly opened, Bâtard in Tribeca, New York City.
His menu is an unique juxtaposition of old world versus the new, serving European-centric cuisine with hints and dashes of his very own Austrian heritage. While some dishes are strikingly one of a kind, (e.g., Octopus “Pastrami” with ham hock, pommery mustard, and new potatoes) others such as the off-menu Sachertorte, evoke a certain nostalgia to classical cookbooks. The cuisine speaks for itself, establishing the identity of Bâtard as casual while remaining elegant— far different from the previously held Corton, which was a fine dining orchestra conducted by the avant-garde mastermind, Chef Paul Liebrandt. No longer will you see an elaborate $155 tasting course option on the menu; Bâtard serves an uncomplicated two-through-four course format, which Chef Glocker calls it “more forward thinking” in this age of dining out.
Join World Gourmet Society as we sit down with Chef Markus Glocker, Partner and Chef de Cuisine of New York City’s Bâtard:
I just overheard you have 90 covers tonight.
Markus: Yeah. Every day, it’s about 90 to 100 people. We could probably do about 130 to 140 but we want to make sure we’re in an area where we can push ourselves and at the same time, not lose any control.
How long has it been since opening day?
Markus: 4 weeks. We started pretty strong right out of the gates. We really wanted to make sure we can open up and start with 40, then 60, then 80. And that’s where we’re around right now, 80 to 100 covers. The most important thing for us is to have a lively, energetic restaurant that serves well executed food. Energy in the dining room for me these days are the most important.
(Author’s Note: Interview took place June 25th, 2014.)
How did you cross paths with restaurateur Drew Nieporent?
Markus: Ah, of course. Everybody knows Drew in New York. I was always intrigued by his passion. One of his strong points is that he loves food. He loves the whole aspect of the restaurant world. He knows everybody, he treats everybody with respect, and those are the same values I have. When I departed Gordon Ramsay at The London last May, I was actually working in Florida for a little bit. Drew came along and he thought we would be a great team to start this here in Tribeca. I wasn’t sure at the beginning but John Winterman (Managing Partner of Bâtard) and I, gave him the business plan and it was sort of the same thing he (Drew Nieporent) wanted to do as well. And I said, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
Restaurateur Drew Nieporent on quality control. Instagram: BatardNY
I keep hearing the phrase, “Less finicky than Corton.”
Markus: This was my business plan with John Winterman. What we talked about for the last three years. I’ve been to restaurants where I really liked the food but for me, there was a sort of pretentiousness which usually is done by the front of house in order to make an experience over the top. Over here, we all have the fine dining background but we can still give good service, great food, have a good wine list AND make the people feel in charge and let them do their thing, you know, without the waiters being all over the guests and trying to get an extra bottle of wine out of them. If they need something, we’re around but … let them be.
This address here has housed quite a history of restaurants. Montrachet first opened in 1985 and obtained 3 stars from the NY Times for 21 years. Then in 2008, Corton earned 3 stars from the NY Times as well, in addition to two Michelin stars. Do you feel a certain pressure of keeping up with Mr. Nieporent’s track record?
Markus: The pressure’s there. But I did not go in here to make everyone besides the guests, happy. We’re really here to make sure that the restaurant’s busy, that we are serving great products, and that we have repeat guests—those are one of the biggest focuses I have. It’s more about the functioning of the restaurant than to please every critic on the planet.
The Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Instagram: BatardNY
In your history of working in kitchens, who has made the largest influence in terms of your culinary style, foundation, and execution?
Markus: I would say working with Eckart Witzigmann was definitely one of my groundbreaking experiences. Just to stand with him in the same kitchen was amazing. I think Charlie Trotter was a very, very forward thinking man in terms of giving people a lot of freedom in the kitchen. Young cooks would be able to touch the products at that time -which was about 12 years ago when I was there- and he allowed them to make mistakes. And that’s a big thing. He used expensive ingredients. All of Charlie’s fish were directly from Japan. To be able to put my hands on a product like that, at 23 years old, felt pretty amazing. I learned a lot and I’m really thankful for him. Gordon is Gordon. He made his career in a different way. However, his structure and his organization, I definitely took a lot from how he runs his kitchen. Although I’m not a shouter like Gordon Ramsay, he was definitely organized and had a different approach to the kitchen in terms of cleanliness, quality control, and consistency.
Your cuisine here is defined as “Modern European” according to OpenTable. Where do you stand between preserving classical cuisine and creating an evolution in modern execution?
Markus: Classical cuisine is so old and it’s so forgotten. How many of our generation knows what a “Beef Rossini" is? But I think classical cuisine is also evolutionary. These dishes, of course, we’re not going to play it the same way with heavy sauces, but you definitely take all these aspects out of flavor profiles and you’re going to interpret it in your own style. I like to have one or two classic elements in my dishes, because the flavors, they all make sense. Then you can still tweak it a little bit with modern influence and modern technique. But the (classical) flavor profiles make sense and it’s proven to work. Classic is new again; it’s just a fashioned in a different way.
(Author’s Note: You can find out what a “beef rossini” is here: http://alturl.com/jhv2s)
Inside the kitchen. Instagram: BatardNY
Which dish on your menu are you currently most obsessed with?
Markus: I have one dish which is off the menu now-- it’s a sachertorte. It’s a classic Austrian dessert, which I think I made last when I was in culinary school. My idea for it was plain and simple. A beautiful sachertorte using the best chocolate we can buy, the best almonds, the best apricots. Then, we have the three dairies: an ice cream which is made from sour cream; the second is pasteurized whipped cream; the third is a crème fraîche which is whipped. Everybody is just obsessed with it because the individual flavors are just so good.
Veal Tenderloin “Tramezzini”?
Markus: Tramezzini is a white bread. It’s sandwich bread used in Italian cuisine. In Fatty Crab, they have these beautiful tea sandwiches with sliced pork bellies. They use very soft, spongy bread. When you roast it, it becomes so crunchy and you can easily wrap it around meat because it’s made with vegetable oil. What we do is take raw veal, a little bit of mousse, and wrap it around with tramezzini bread. Then we sear it in a pan so it gets the color and crisp. It’s a technique from an old dish but it’s packed with beautiful flavors.
Veal Tenderloin "Tramezzini." Instagram: moemuseo
It looks kind of like a Beef Wellington.
Markus: Yes, but it’s not as heavy. That’s what we’re going for. Most of our dishes are very light in terms of olive oil and vinaigrettes. Same thing as the sauces for the veal which is a chicken based sauce, but we lighten it up with vinegar. It’s more like a vinaigrette style sauce.
How does wine go into effect of your cuisine?
Markus: Chef Trotter always used to say, “The kitchen is 30%, service is 70%. As good are you’re going to get in the kitchen, you’re never going to be more than 30%.” Which, I don’t 100% agree with. However, he also used to say, “You have to cook for the wine.” Let’s say you have this thousand dollar bottle, for example, and you have something on the plate where 80% of the elements don’t work well with the wine-- it just doesn’t make sense. You have to be sort of user friendly and maybe switch the sauce out on the plate, just to make sure the wine fits with the dish. That’s the kind of flexibility you want in the kitchen. It just has to fit with wine.
Lastly, what direction do you see for the future of Bâtard?
Markus: I want this to be a restaurant where people can come in the kitchen, say hi to the chef, and come back for dinner two or three times a month. At the same time, we want to have the flexibility of celebrating anniversaries, and having more courses, and big bottles of wine. I really want this restaurant to be seen as flexible, detail oriented, and fun.
"Provoke emotion, leave an impression." Instagram: BatardNY
239 West Broadway New York, NY, 10013
Cuisine: Modern European, Contemporary American
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 5:30pm - 10:30pm