FOOD PERSON is From Clive’s interview series celebrating chefs, tastemakers, and founders in and around the food world. Focused around creativity, entrepreneurship, and personal origin, Food Person explores the unique and beautiful connections we all have to food and dining.
Resident merges Michelin Star-quality dining with the intimacy of a dinner party, curating chefs from the world’s best restaurants to cook multi-course tasting menus in luxury spaces. I recently sat down with Chef Connor Kaminski, Culinary Operations Manager at Resident and one of the amazing chefs on their roster, to talk about what it’s like to be a Resident chef. Resident provides a truly unique dining experience where each delicious course is brought to life through storytelling, all in unforgettable and transportive New York City spaces. Meet Connor below, and don’t miss the Sous Vide Pork Belly recipe he shares at the bottom!
What formed your love and connection to hospitality?
I think through my restaurant experience it became so evident to me that I really enjoyed connecting with people. I think that I love the industry because of all the people that I’ve worked with. Everybody is just such a unique person. There’s so many unique personalities out there, and we kind of gang together to serve the people and have a fun time doing it. There’s a lot of camaraderie around hospitality. I really love that and the creativity behind it. Seeing some of these restaurant spaces that people build out, I mean, you walk into some restaurants and you’re just floored by the design. I’m so intrigued and inspired by the kitchens people build out… the NoMad kitchen was insane.
What are some restaurants in the city that you think have an amazing space?
Don Angie is one of my favorites. That place. I mean, that’s just like a sexy dining room. It’s like James Bond-esque in a way. It’s such an amazing atmosphere. You walk in there and you feel like you’re walking into a movie scene almost. That’s my favorite place at this moment.
“It’s not just about the food sometimes. It’s also about showing who you are.”
What kind of kitchens did you work in prior to joining Resident?
When I was 18 and working as a server, one of the chefs at the restaurant would go through the menu and the methods behind each dish at our pre-meal, and he would talk about food in this way that was very inspiring. I was working as a server and bartender for awhile, and then at a point, I felt I needed to really round out my education. I knew I really loved food, and what was going on in the industry. But I wanted to understand how flavor really comes together. That’s when I decided to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and that was just a super fun experience.
After that, I cooked at The NoMad. I also got to work at Uncle Boons, which is another great restaurant. Unfortunately, both of those restaurants are closed now, which is very sad. I think when I saw The NoMad closed, I did cry. That was a very nostalgic place. Then I started working as a chef de cuisine underneath my fiancée, who was the executive chef at a place up in Westchester. Last year, she started doing events with Resident and introduced me to the team here.
What was it like working under your fiancée?
We really enjoyed that time because we got to bounce ideas off of each other a lot. I always like to think I have a better eye for plating and she’s got the palette. So we’ve always been a good team. Whenever I’m making something, she’s like, ‘you know, what if we added this to that?’ So we kind of worked a lot in tandem when we were like developing the menu for that place. It was really cool. She’s an absolute badass. I admire her so much.
“At the end of most of the dinners, we get to go around and talk to everyone. I think it’s super unique to be able to spend a bit more time with guests on that level.”
Something that is so cool about the Resident concept is that the chef of each dinner gets complete creative control to design the menu.
Every single time. Whenever I’m doing a dinner, it’s what I want to do.
What’s it like to have that level of creative freedom?
It’s incredible. I’ve been in this industry for over 12 years. So I’m at the point where I want to do my own thing, and show what I can actually do, and show techniques I’ve learned. All of the Resident chefs love this concept. And they love the fact that they can express themselves the way that they’ve always wanted to. They don’t need to be working hours on end to make food under someone else’s name. It’s an incredible opportunity. I think some chefs might shy away because they don’t want to be put in the spotlight, but in this industry, you have to really put yourself out there. It’s not just about the food sometimes. It’s also about showing who you are.
Is there a specific type of cuisine that you gravitate towards most?
I really love Mexican cuisine and like aiming food towards Latin America. My father’s side of the family is from Argentina. So there’s this big appreciation that I have for the South Americas and all the different countries that are down there. I think a lot of people like to go into the route of Europe or going into Asia where as I feel more connected to those countries. And my fiancée is also from Mexico City.
We’ve travelled there a lot, and it’s just so good. We love walking through the streets and having all the endless options of street tacos. It’s just so much fun. We’ve had some really good maize in Mexico City, and have ate at some of the best restaurants, like Pujol, Quintonil, and my absolute favorite, which is Maximo Bistrot.
“I love being able to see guests enjoying the food and getting to see the smiles and reactions. Sometimes you can see an element of surprise on their faces.”
Resident dinners create such an intimate environment between the chef and the guests. What’s it like to be able to connect with guests on that level and see how they’re experiencing the food without the barrier of a restaurant?
I love being able to see guests enjoying the food and getting to see their smiles and reactions. Sometimes you can see an element of surprise in their facial expression. It’s really cool getting to see that. At the end of most of the dinners, we get to go around and talk to all the people and hear their feedback and what their favorite dish was. I think it’s super unique to be able to spend a bit more time with them on that level. You don’t get that often in New York City, unless you have a friend in the kitchen or you’re like Jerry Seinfeld and you have your own personal chef.
You have a Resident dinner coming up in a few weeks. What’s a menu highlight you’re excited about making?
I have this one dessert that I’m planning on doing. It’s going to be a a take on a Maria cookie, which is a Mexican sweet cracker. I’m doing a lime gel, a rum base and then caramelized mini bananas on top. I’m really excited about that one. I’m going to call it ‘I’m Sorry Miss Fosters.’ I thought it would be funny to kind of incorporate OutKast into it. I like to play around with songs that have some reference to food in it, and then try to build the food around that song. I really like to collaborate in that sense. I like to ask people, “What do you like?” And I can create food around that. And I like to do that with other aspects, like music.
Sous Vide Pork Belly
Water— (x amount of Grams needed for fully submerging pork belly) – about 1000g
Kosher Salt— (8% of water weight) – 80g
Pink salt # 1— (1% of water weight / this prevents the pork belly from turning grey) – 10g
Pork Belly— 8 oz
Brine the pork belly for 24 hours, then remove from water solution, pat dry, and vacuum seal. Once air tight, place into a sous vide bath at 57 degrees Celsius or 134.5 Fahrenheit. Allow this to sous vide for 60 hours. Remove from bath and place onto a wire rack pat dry once again. In an oil cured pan at medium heat, place the pork belly skin side down and press firmly into the pan (be careful, these little piggy’s like to pop off a bit of oil). Once seared in the pan, put into your oven at 450 Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a fish spatula to lift the pork belly from the pan. It might give you a little trouble, but the crispy skin is worth it. Once out, it’s ready to serve!