Here at the FreshDirect headquarters, we’re lucky to work with many interesting people who share our passion for food.
One great example is Chef Tina Bourbeau, Executive Chef/Senior Director of Research and Development here at FreshDirect.
I sat down with Tina to find out why she went into the food business in the first place.
FD: What was the inspiration to make food your business?
TB: Cooking is the only profession I’ve ever had, and I am grateful that I get paid to do what I love and am deeply passionate about — anything else seems like torture.
FD: What was the road that led you to FreshDirect?
TB: After studying at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now I.C.E.), I started cooking my way through various NYC kitchens. My first job was at Oceana – while still in school. This was when anything less than a 6-day work-week wasn’t even a consideration. I was the first woman to work in that kitchen (boy, times have changed!).
Later, I worked my way through the kitchen at C.T. until I was Chef Claude Troisgros’s sous chef. I was very determined to work at Nobu after this (it wasn’t easy getting through the door), and after finally proving myself there — working through the stations and learning the “Nobu Way” — I had the honor of being asked to be head kitchen chef at Nobu Next Door.
When Laurent Tourondel returned from his stint in Vegas, he asked me to work with him again (he was my Chef de Cuisine at C.T.) to open Cello, which was an instant critical success! After that I found a real passion for the über-seasonal as the chef of Nicole’s.
FD: What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?
TB: The biggest challenge for me has been the transition of adjusting my thinking from small, fine-dining restaurants to large-scale, mass production. Honestly, I had barely touched a microwave when I first started working here. And now I make full meals in them with amazing results! To wrap my brain around the scale of what we do and believe that we can execute on this level of excellence has been a hump. The philosophies behind fine dining versus mass production are completely different, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel between both worlds and bridge the gap as I see fit.
FD: What’s your favorite thing to cook?
TB: I have no singular favorite thing to cook; I love many things. When you make the conscious choice to cook with the best available ingredients, it’s easy to let the food shine for what it is. Good is good.
FD: What would be your perfect last meal?
TB: Food that reminds me of my summers growing up: The best rib-eye I could get my hands on. A salt-baked potato, mostly just the skin (with 200 pounds of butter). Local corn on the cob (with 200 more pounds of butter). Now add coarse sea salt and pepper, more salt than pepper. For dessert, strawberry shortcake or pineapple upside-down cake. Or maybe even both.
FD: What is your best cooking tip?
TB: The smallest amount of extra effort is what tips the scale to transform food from good to great — and it’s what makes the difference. Go the distance for the best ingredients. Spend the time to do the best mise en place (i.e. getting all the ingredients prepped, ready, and in place before cooking). If there is a problem (over-seasoned, burned, overcooked) — start over.