The FLX FAQs
A semi-regular column in which we nose our way into the minds and kitchens of Finger Lakes foodies.
Emma Frisch is a local chef committed to an approach to food and cooking that creates a gateway to becoming a natural cook and achieving a healthier, happier and more comfortable quality of life inside and outside of the kitchen.
Edible Finger Lakes: What is the most interesting thing you always keep in your fridge?
Emma Frisch: My husband, Bobby, always remarks on how the second shelf in our refrigerator looks like a science experiment. I keep the juice dregs of pickles in a variety of jars. Most people dump this liquid gold after fishing out all the pickled vegetables, but I think it makes an excellent, flavored vinegar for adding to salad dressing, splashing into a pot of soup, or starting a fresh batch of pickles. I also drink it straight. Pickles are naturally fermented, so the brine is loaded with good bacteria for boosting your immune system. And if you’re into whiskey pickle-back shots, you’ll definitely think twice about tossing your pickle juice.
EFL: What’s the last meal you cooked for yourself?
EF: Last night I made a hodgepodge soup to use up the leftovers in our refrigerator before traveling for the weekend. The formula is pretty simple: stock (vegetable, chicken or beef), grain (quinoa, rice or both), legumes (beans, lentils or both), a few heaping tablespoons of tomato paste, chopped leftover deli meat (I used ham) and diced vegetables that would otherwise be on their way to squishydom. Simmer the whole lot until the vegetables, grains and legumes are tender. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sprinkle of cheese–whatever you have on hand really! Don’t forget to season as you go.
EFL: What’s the one kitchen tool you couldn’t live without?
EF: I’ll have to say two, because they go hand-in-hand. First is my Global chef knife, which was originally Bobby’s (did I mention he taught me a lot about cooking when we met in college?). The second is my sturdy cutting board, also a gift from Bobby. It’s made with Ambrosia Maple wood, and has intricate natural lines decorating the smooth surface. I use it for everything: preparing meals and serving grazing boards with beautiful spreads of Finger Lakes cheeses, charcuterie, bread and herbed olive oil. Like a sharp knife that feels balanced in-hand, a strong, beautiful cutting board is also essential. The two make the experience of cooking so much more pleasant.
EFL: What was the first Finger Lakes wine/beer/spirit you ever tasted?
EF: Tasted, or fell in love with? I suppose my first sip speaks to both: Ithaca Beer Company‘s Flower Power. You can’t get a better IPA than that! But I’ll add that I have a very sweet spot for Finger Lakes Distilling‘s Rye Whiskey. Though, after living here for four years, it seems sacrilegious to pick out just one or two beverages from our region, doesn’t it? It was a Flower Power, at Northstar Public House. Bobby and I discovered this neighborhood gem in fits of hunger and exasperation after days of moving in. It was the best welcome to Ithaca.
EFL: If you could add one item to the Finger Lakes foodshed that isn’t already there, what would it be?
EF: Add?! I haven’t even tried everything we have to offer already, and every time I’m craving something new it seems to magically appear–like chestnuts, or Good Life Farm‘s homegrown ginger root. (Although I bet grower Melissa Madden would not say it was an act of magic, but hard spent dedication getting a tropical crop to grow here). But ok, if I had to choose: acorn flour. I spent hours collecting acorns last summer with the intention of processing them and cooking with this age-old, power-source of nutrition which seems to rain down from oak trees. But I haven’t yet gotten the hang of sorting them out to avoid acorn weevils, and well, it’s no fun finding squirming grubs at the bottom of your bin.
EFL: What does it mean to you to be a part of the Finger Lakes foodshed?
EF: It means being one of the luckiest people and chefs in the world. It means being part of a community where farm-to-table is not a trend, but a way of life. It means having access to a bottomless pot of wisdom and knowledge, while also being part of the next generation to carry our legacy forward with new, modern approaches. Being part of this foodshed has inspired me in so many ways, both in how I want to feed people and I how I want to live my life.