New Chefs Rising: Jess Shadbolt & Clare de Boer of King

New Chefs Rising: Jess Shadbolt & Clare de Boer of King


I’ve got very furry legs. Oh my God! No, my hair’s longer, I’m sure. I was walking back from the bathroom yesterday, and I could feel the wind bristling in my hairy legs. I was like, “This is what it’s like to be a man.” *laughs* It’s horrible. My name’s Jess Shadbolt. And I’m Clare de Boer, and we’re at King. We both went to Ballymaloe Cookery School, but we went a semester apart. It’s like, the most magical place. The cooking school’s set on a farm in Cork in Ireland. The whole kind of idea behind the cooking school isn’t that you just get sort of taught how to cook. You get taught an appreciation of ingredients and seasonality and where the food comes from. So you pick the vegetables on the farm in the morning. You milk the cow and then you later make cheese. That’s what makes it so special. We love it. And I think one of the lasting kind of influences of Ballymaloe is Darina Allen, the woman that started and runs the place. And she was the first woman in Ireland to pioneer the farmers markets. And she’s really Alice Waters’s contemporary in Europe. And she’s there teaching every day. Picking up rubbish off the floor from the students’ demos and training you how to season. She’s just an absolute inspiration and a powerhouse, and she’s created an absolute…you know. Magical place. I don’t think, at that time, either of us thought that we’d be opening a restaurant in New York, but it definitely was the beginning of our journey. Yeah, there have been so many moments where we look at each other and we’re like, “What would Darina do?” *laughs* So this is a really simple kind of Provençal rendition of a roast bird. A roasted guinea hen with capers, olives, bay, and lentils. And they’re incredibly fatty. It’s sort of much gamier than a chicken. And they’ve just got a really wonderful kind of farmy, farmy flavor, and the fat is bright yellow and really creamy. Favorite part of coming in every day is just cooking. Like, you know, you can be in a horrible mood, you can be sleep deprived, you can be whatever, and then you just start cooking and it’s all OK and you’re completely present. There’s no looking at the clock, there’s no wishing you were somewhere else. You’re just…you’re just cooking. Sometimes the gas doesn’t come on, so I just have to give it a blow. So make sure you lay the bird really flat. Once you put it in the pan, you don’t want to move it at all. I’ve got three really heavy pans here that I’m just going to put on top. And this just helps get a really crisp skin. It’s almost the best part of the bird. And we’re going to be serving the guinea hen with lentils today. We’re incredibly partial to Castelluccio lentils, which are from Umbria. And I’ve just rinsed those and then put them into cold water with a tomato and some aroma — sage, a little bit of chili. The capers, you actually want to fry. You want them to bloom in the fat, release some of their flavor and get a little bit crispy. They’re all opening up. Annie Shi is our general manager, and the three of us all met in London. We decided very quickly that we were going to do something incredibly foolish and open a restaurant in New York. Being a team is just the greatest thing. I think we’ve learned that — This whole experience has been, obviously, incredibly exciting but it’s been really hard as well. And being able to share that with two other people is what makes it even more thrilling. You can really kind of tell how far your guinea hen’s cooked by the smell. You can smell these amazing flavors of the farm coming out of here, and that’s all that luscious guinea fat that’s rendering. Bay burns very quickly, that’s why I’m putting it in now, and you can smell the perfume. It’s kind of permeating the air at the moment. And the olives aren’t going to release a huge amount of flavor. They’ve got very thin skins, so you don’t get a lot of bite. You just get a really wonderful, kind of mild flavor that’s quite varied, actually, because they come in all different colors. Splash of wine in there, just for a little bit of acidity. Thinking back to opening, it was such a — an extremely emotional challenge to get the doors open. And one of us was always having some kind of emotional crisis. Like, you know, we took it in turns from day to day to be like, “We can’t do this. This isn’t possible.” Without two people being like, “No!” You know. “It’s all going to work out in the end!” I can’t imagine possibly doing that alone. So the lentils are perfectly cooked now. They’re slightly al dente. And everything we serve at King has this Capizzano olive oil on it. I think that a guinea hen is so nostalgic for most people because everyone’s used to eating roast chicken, the fragrance of the bay, and the capers and the olives, so I think it kind of brings together a couple of elements which are very nostalgic. Sometimes we turn to each other and we’re like, “Are we getting paid for this?” *laughs* “This is our job, right?” I think it’s allowed us a lot more confidence in doing things that we think are bold in their simplicity.

One thought on “New Chefs Rising: Jess Shadbolt & Clare de Boer of King”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *