Chef Samantha Buyskes was born in South Africa and she has become a recognized Finger Lakes chef devoted to using local ingredients. She has been cooking, teaching, and catering in the Finger Lakes for more than two decades. She opened her first restaurant Simply Red in Trumansburg in 2002. This eatery then had an extension pop up at Sheldrake Point until 2012. Samantha more recently has made a name for herself with her innovative farm-to-table cooking at Kindred Fare and H.J Stead in Geneva. Samantha released her cookbook Mama Red’s Comfort Kitchen in 2008. Chef Samantha has also found ways to use her cooking talents and passion to give back to her community through organizations such as Share our Strength and Foodlink.
Could you please describe to us your favorite cooking creation?
I love to cook anything in the realm of Mediterranean style cuisine, citrus, spices, herbs, and really fresh ingredients
What do you love most about your job?
Watching people eat my food 😉
I have a long history of cooking farm to table cuisine in the Finger Lakes for almost 20 years now.
When did you first become interested in farm-to-table cooking?
I have always been interested in this concept. Growing up in South Africa it was simply a way of life there.
How does where you work now utilize local and seasonal ingredients?
All my menus are based on local producers and purveyors of regional ingredients.
Could you please name a few local food producers you work with now or have worked with in the past?
Silver Queen, Schrader’s Meat Market, Autumns Harvest, Muranda Cheese Company, Lively Run, Remembrance Farm, and Rosenkrans Farm.
Why do you think utilizing local and seasonal ingredients grown and produced in the Finger Lakes is important?
It’s a full circle, as Chefs Collaborative says. Change Menus, Change Lives. I know how my commitment to supporting local has changed the lives of my customers, farmers, and producers. Just look at how the region has changed over the last 20 years
What’s on the top of your mind right now?
The hospitality industry and its survival—and how that impacts so many. [Also], the people in this country that are most in need and how we help them.
Could you please describe your favorite cooking technique? OR Could you please describe a recent memorable experience related to cooking?
[I’m] currently in love with the reverse sear:
It involves taking a very very thick piece of meat bone and cooking it at 225 Fahrenheit in the oven until it reaches a rare 120-130 degrees. Let it rest 5 minutes and then sear it on a scorching hot cast iron pan 2-3 minutes a side with some olive oil, then serve. The beauty is the meat is pink tip to tip. No grey.
Is there a recipe for home chefs that you’d like to share?
Artichoke Egg Salad:
5 hardboiled eggs
1 can artichoke hearts drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 zest of lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons fresh mint
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place all ingredients into a food processor until well blended. Chill and enjoy with your favorite crackers or as a sandwich.