Chef Patrick Blackman is deeply committed to utilizing the plentiful ingredients that can be found on farms around Tompkins County. He brings this enthusiasm for cooking with local ingredients, and an appreciation for the communities that grow and enjoy them, to his position as Executive Chef at Coltivare in Ithaca. Coltivare is a 17,000 square-foot culinary center that is an extension of Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3). Blackman was recently recognized as a “Business Leader of the Year” winner as part of the Tompkins Connect 6th Annual Fab5 Young Professional Awards for his dedication that allowed him to rise from a line cook at Coltivare to adjunct faculty and to Executive Chef. Blackman shares how his upbringing and experiences over the years have shaped his success in the Finger Lakes farm-to-table cooking scene, and what he enjoys most about the work today, in this answers to our Celebrating Local Chefs Q&A below! We are recognizing Blackman as part of a celebration of Black History Month.
Edible Finger Lakes: Could you please describe to us your favorite cooking creation?
Chef Blackman: My Favorite food creation would have to be what I call “Brown Cow Salad” which involves a petit filet that has been marinated in a molasses and pineapple blend, grilled to temp, [with a ] spring mix, a combination of summer vegetables tossed in a candied garlic vinaigrette.
EFL: What do you love most about your job?
Being a chef, what I love most about my job is how it has allowed me to immerse myself in different styles of cooking while working alongside such diversity. Food deserves as much respect as the people who are cooking it as well as the people who are experiencing the meal as diners. Personally, diversity equals growth.
EFL: Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past?
I am Executive Chef of Coltivare in Ithaca. I have spent most of my professional years in Houston. There, I have worked at Pesce, Brennans of Houston, Bretts BBQ, The Tasting Room, and other various types of establishments. Being from New Orleans originally, my first culinary job was at the Marriott New Orleans.
EFL: When did you first become interested in farm-to-table cooking?
I have always been into “farm to table” cooking since my youth as far as I can remember. My grandfather on my mother’s side had a small farm with the neighborhood he lived in to rotate crops seasonally. In my backyard growing up, we had banana trees and pecan trees and small pepper plants. For me personally, utilizing as much local product as one can do sustainably for the farm and the business is crucial. Growing up in the south and in larger cities, visiting farms was always a treat with my family and friends.
EFL: How does where you work now utilize local and seasonal ingredients?
Being in a farm-to-table establishment coupled with the location of the hospitality program for TC3, we strive on utilizing local and seasonal ingredients. When the spring and summer come around we really get to go wild with different purveyors as they all like to produce different things.
EFL: Could you please name a few local food producers you work with now or have worked with in the past?
Some of our local producers that we use or have worked with are: TC3 Farmer Todd, Rosenkrans Beef, Silver Queen Farm, Englebert Farm, Autumns Harvest, Agbotic Smart Farms, Indian Creek Farm, and Deer Run Farm.
EFL: Why do you think utilizing local and seasonal ingredients grown and produced in the Finger Lakes is important?
I think utilizing local ingredients is important for a few reasons:
1. With so many farms available surrounding our community, it seems like the most logical thing to do as one can within the realm of reason.
2. Farmers have the absolute best pride in their products as they should and we should all support them in their efforts to try to give us their best. The more we support them the better they become.
3. By showcasing local farms, they are able to gain more visitation by the everyday person to buy from them for direct sale for their household. This can educate people on the importance and give them knowledge of what local farms are out there.
EFL: What’s on the top of your mind right now?
Tonight’s service, I have a student showcasing one of her dishes for her class. Other than that, just mentally planning for the upcoming months as we are gearing up for a few holidays, some special projects I have in the works with some local purveyors.
EFL: Could you please describe your favorite cooking technique?
My favorite cooking technique is something I can’t really do daily if I wanted to. I love cooking in an industrial kitchen as I have my entire career, but I really get excited when I get to fire up the campfire pit in my backyard and cook for my family. My son loves to get involved (He and my wife like to build fires afterwards) and help bring out the mise en place. It’s a great feeling when I can watch my son make chili or gumbo step by step as I guide him and he is becoming quite the mini chef.
Check out Chef Patrick Blackman’s Candied Garlic Vinaigrette recipe here!