Victor looks sharp here but he wants you to know his tough knife face doesn’t convey the immense amount of fun that will be had by his class participants! Nibble scribe & enthusiastic eater Rebecca Small asked him a few questions about his background in the food business & what participants can expect from his upcoming class.
Next Tuesday, 7/23 from 6:30-9pm, Victor Tiernan will teach one of our Nibble cooking classes. First, Victor will lead a shopping expedition to Union Square’s marvelous Reliable Market, purveyor of Korean and all kinds of Asian food goods. Then, we will head back to Kitchen Inc (a few blocks away) to use our purchases to make Vietnamese salad rolls and a soba noodle salad with kale, everyone’s favorite superfood.
Victor Tiernan has an impressive resumé in the Boston food scene, including the award winning (now closed) Salamander restaurant in Cambridge and The Blue Room in Kendall Square. Salamander’s Cambridge location was turning out thoughtful Asian fusion food before it was cool, in the early 1990’s. It was consistently rated one of Zagat Boston’s top 10 restaurants, and Travel + Leisure mag called it “One not to miss.” Throughout his career, Victor learned from chefs who utilize ingredients and techniques from all over the world to experiment with and push culinary boundaries, and he is brings this global-minded perspective to his South-East Asian influenced cooking class.
Read on to find out why he loves Reliable and his trick for tenderizing raw kale! There are limited class tickets left; buy them here & only here at our online store.
Nibble: Where are you from? And how did you end up in Somerville?
Victor: I am from Fairfax, VA. I moved to the area impulsively in 1987. I met my honey, found great jobs and people so I stayed.
Nibble: When did you first start cooking, and how? What initially attracted you to cooking?
Victor: I started cooking as a kid. The first thing I learned to cook was a grilled cheese sandwich and it made me feel independent. In fact, two things made me feel independent as a kid: bicycling and cooking.
Nibble: What was your first job in the food business?
Victor: I started in the food business in high school, busing tables at JR’s Steakhouse. My first cooking job was a HoJo’s in Harrisonburg VA working the overnight shift Thursday to Saturday. We were in the weeds from 1am to 4am. It was an awesome job.
Nibble: You’ve had quite the career in and around Boston! What restaurants & food businesses have you worked in?
Victor: Souper Salad, Mike’s Greasy Spoon, The Paulist Center, Galley Diner, The Blue Room, Salamander (Cambridge), flora restaurant.
Nibble: Wow, that’s quite the list! So, what do you think Union Square has to offer to visitors and Somerville residents in terms of food?
Victor: The food scene in Union Square is great. There is an amazing variety for such a small place. And I am talking about restaurants and shops. The prices are reasonable for the most part and parking isn’t a big issue.
Nibble: Why should folks check out Reliable Market? Beyond it’s wall of Kimchee, of course (see photo)
Victor: Reliable has all kinds of Asian food. It’s a great place to find stuff to experiment with. I always buy something I’ve never tried before. They sell all kinds of oils, vinegars, noodles, rices, dry goods, spices, curry powders and pastes, kitchen equipment and gadgets, dishware, teacups and more!
Nibble: In your class we are making Vietnamese salad rolls and kale noodle salad with roasted chickpeas and sesame dressing. Can’t wait to get a bite of that! Why did you choose these dishes?
Victor: These are great dishes for the hot weather. They are cold dishes that don’t require much cooking, and they are satisfying and very nutritious. If this class was on a Saturday, you could get everything you need at the farmer’s market and Reliable. Some skills that will be featured in this class are knife skills, setting up a station for production and, of course, flavors, bold flavors!
Nibble: Gotta love the local food! So, the laundry-list of health benefits in raw kale has been well touted over the past couple years, but kale leaves themselves can be pretty tough. We hear you’ve got a trick up your sleeve. Can you describe the technique you’re using to prepare kale for the salad?
Victor: The technique is to tenderize it without cooking it. This preserves all the nutrients that may be lost during cooking. I use a little salt, but the emphasis should be on the oil. the kale is light coated with olive oil and then kneaded until is soft and silky. It works especially well with fresh local kale because it hasn’t been stored for a long time so it is already more tender than the kale you would get at the supermarket.
Nibble: Thanks and see you next Tuesday!