"Eggs are a crutch for pasta made with the shittiest white flour you can get," proclaims Kevin Adey, as he readies for Wednesday night dinner service at his acclaimed Bushwick restaurant, Faro. "And what does it taste like? Chewy egg. Which is delicious, don't get me wrong. But pasta at its core isn't about eggs — it's about combining water and flour made from wheat or some sort of grain, and kneading it for a long time."
That's precisely what he plans to demonstrate at his upcoming workshop at Taste Talks; hand-milling spelt to form twisted tubes of nubby caserecci, which truly showcase the superbly nutty flavor of the grain (yes, there will be samples!) But Adey's impassioned pro-wheat stance — which has effectively put him on the front lines of NYC's burgeoning grain movement — doesn't apply solely to pasta. He's actually made it his mission to expand on the ideals of local and sustainable sourcing, by ridding Faro's kitchen completely of lifeless, tasteless and terroir-free white flour; partnering with New York State farms to supply everything from the emmer and oats in his savory porridge, to the fresh freekah-formed bulgur in his vegetable salad, to the barley that gets crisped into crackers, for topping pastured beef tartare.
"Listen, there have always been farms growing organic carrots. And back when America was the breadbasket of the world, everyone grew grain too," Adey begins. "Unfortunately, that was the first thing to go with automation, which left us with enormous agricultural multi-million dollar machines doing the work that people used to do. Small farmers couldn't survive growing grain, which meant the practice died out, and now it's been gone so long that people don't miss it."
"Most people can tell the difference between a farm-raised and commercially-grown carrot," he continues. "But no one says "Hey! This bread doesn't taste like it does when I was a kid."
America's fractured relationship with wheat really hit home during Adey's tenure at Northeast Kingdom, when he spent 10 months helping raise a pig upstate, in advance of a whole animal feast. Under the tutelage of a Danish farmer at Hudson Valley's biodynamic Triform Community, he milled grain to order, so that the piglets could fully benefit from the variety of vitamins, minerals and 'life forces' within. "All of this thought went into feeding pigs," stresses Adey. "And for the most part, we don't put that kind of effort feeding people!"
Which is why Adey vowed that as soon as he had his own restaurant, he'd do his part to bring locally-grown grains to the forefront. And he more than kept his promise at Faro; structuring menus around earthy amaranth, spicy rye and heirloom einkorn wheat, obtained from purveyors like Orwashers, Champlain Milling and Cayuga Pure Organics (casual cooks need look no further than the Union Square Greenmarket, thanks to their Regional Grains Project; an initiative to revitalize and sustainably scale up the production of grains in the Northeast).
"Another 'aha' moment for me was realizing that when it comes to recipes nowadays, not one of them uses the word wheat. They just say flour. Think about that," Adey exclaims. "You know those man on the street interviews where they ask people who the Vice President is and no one has the answer? I bet there are people out there that don't get that flour is actually made from wheat. It's crazy."
"Want to sample Kevin's whole grain cecamariti? Secure your front row seat to the future of taste and buy your ticket to Taste Talks Brooklyn today!"