In the short time Chef Ming Pu has led the culinary team at Brooklyn and the Butcher, he’s already had to navigate a global pandemic, labor market shortages, meat prices fluctuating almost daily, and two new menu changes. He’s done so with a style and grace that has become expected from him by his colleagues, who universally praise his ability to lead, adapt, and inspire while under pressure.
And while his Taiwanese heritage has certainly left an unmistakable mark on the culinary side of Brooklyn’s modern steakhouse menu (think the verlasso salmon crudo with yuzu ponzu and sambal jam), it has been Chef Ming’s commitment to working with small farms that he credits for truly elevating the flavors of some of his favorite dishes.
“It makes a big difference in the end product,” Chef Ming told me while plating up his now beloved lamb meatballs. Featured on the small plates portion of Brooklyn’s menu, these delicious, shareable bites are served on whipped goat cheese with a cucumber salad. The lamb is sourced from Freedom Run Farms, a sustainable, Kentucky Proud lamb consortium.
“Using farms like Freedom Run let’s us be really specific about the flavors and textures we’re going for, as opposed to using a mass commodity. We know the farmers, the hybrids, the way they’re fed, and we don’t have to worry about the quality being there when the truck shows up.”
In addition to providing the rich, bold flavors Chef Ming needs at a restaurant known for big steaks, working with sustainable farms also had an unexpected positive result during the initial phases of the Corona pandemic. While commodity meats were fluctuating in price almost daily due to major processing plants shutting down, Chef Ming discovered that some of his favorite smaller farms were actually seeing less changes in the amount of meat they were able to deliver.
“In a time when some of the bigger farms were seeing premium steak prices double or triple in cost, the farms I worked with were offering cuts that tasted amazing and at a stable price point.” Chef Ming particularly fell in love with the meat from Black Hawk Farms in Black Hawk, Kentucky. “The American Wagyu Black Hawk sirloin baseball cut is everything our guests love about a prime filet at a fraction of the cost. And Black Hawk are able to deliver this every time because they share a common commitment to quality with us.”
Chef Ming Pu also features sustainable farm products from the likes of Joyce Farms (a succulent roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes, curly kale, pickled green tomatoes, and a zhug emulsion) and the Creekstone Farm burger (expertly grilled with Tillamook cheddar, habagardil pickles, grilled onion, tomato, and truffle frites). It’s a choice Chef Ming says goes beyond simply putting food on a plate.
“It’s about building relationships, and in times like we’re going through now, that’s more important than ever. When relationships are strong, we all lock into the same goals and same expectations,” Chef Ming said. “The result is an experience that is truly unique to what we do here at Brooklyn and the Butcher.”
You can try Chef Ming’s farm first menu at Brooklyn and the Butcher. Reservations can be made at BrooklynandtheButcher.com