Lucky us! We were able to sit down with Sara Jenkins to chat. If you haven’t tried her fabulous spots in the East Village, Porsena and Porchetta, you should definitely plan for it soon. Critics and users love it on Taste Savant. Hear about her love for truffles and hatred for dairy!
1) Our readers love to know what it’s like to be a chef, can you describe your typical day?
My typical day starts with getting up at 7:30 and getting my child ready for school. Once I have dropped him off I head to Porsena. I try to spend the morning dealing with boring administrative details, scheduling, wine inventory, menus. Around 11am I work on the lunch specials with my prep cook. I try to photograph and tweet one special, at this point I sometimes have lunch at extra bar with someone who is visiting and or taste wine with a wine dealer. At around 2 my night crew comes in and I spend time with them getting the night specials together. At 5:00 pm we have family meal with all the staff, put up and discuss the specials, points of service, and taste any new wines we have going on. I usually disappear into the basement office for an hour so then to wrap up any errant paperwork I have going on or spend time dreaming up new ideas for the menu or special dinners. When the dining room starts to fill up I come upstairs and expedite (control the flow of orders) until it quiets down a bit. In the old days at this point I really liked to have a couple glasses of wine and unwind but that makes getting up again at 7:30 just about impossible so I tend to head straight home and read until I fall asleep (about 5 minutes). It sounds more rigorous than it usually is as I often step out for lunch or spend a couple hours at the farmers market in the morning on my way in or leave and spend the afternoon with my kid before coming back in to expedite.
2) You’ve got two fantastic restaurants, Porsena and Porchetta. Do you prefer one over the other?
They are so different that I do not prefer one over the other.
3) Can you describe Porsena and Porchetta individually in three words or less?
Porsena is slow cooked Italian fast food, Porsena is a more traditional old school Italian trattoria
4) What is your favorite dish on the menu at both your eateries?
Strangely at Porchetta I really love the Porchetta…its famous as a sandwich but I like the plate with beans, greens and the pork. At Porsena my favorite thing to eat is the wilted escarole salad w/ hot anchovy dressing
5) Any plans to expand? And if so, can you give us an idea of what’s to come?
No plans, concentrating on making each place the best it can be.
6) What one ingredient can you not cook without?
7) Is there one ingredient that you personally detest?
I cant stand eggs or milk
8) How do you spend the little spare time you have?
I spend it generally with my child who is 6. We go to the Natural History Museum and the park and he loves to go out for pizza.
9) Any advice for aspiring chefs out there?
You have to love everything about the restaurant business. I generally do not recommend going to cooking school. Take that money and travel. Travel as many places as you can and experience as much different food and culture as you can. Work for all kinds of different chefs in different types of restaurants.
10) If you weren’t in the food world, what else could you see yourself doing? Truffle hunter!