We jumped on the opportunity to visit Northstar in Ithaca recently on a cold and windy afternoon! Chef Frank Purazzi and his team are hard at work sourcing as many local ingredients as they can – from potatoes to micro-greens and house-made spaetzle and hamburger buns featuring local flours. Their dedication to building lasting relationships with local farmers is impressive – this restaurant is taking “Farm to table” as far as they can.
Frank is a New York native who started as a dishwasher at a local Italian restaurant in Spencer, NY. He’s worked his way up from Joe’s Restaurant in Ithaca to farm-to-table restaurants in Manhattan, before making his way back to Ithaca. Frank has experience in all aspects of running a restaurant and his passion for fresh, local food comes through in conversation. After moving up to sous chef at Joe’s Restaurant 8 years ago, he went on to open a carry out business with a friend in South Hill that mostly catered to college students. This is where he started looking for more and became really interested in local foods. After opening bags of prepared food for years he started looking for something more meaningful. His first stint at Northstar lasted 8 months where he again worked his way up to sous chef. After a few years traveling and some time in some well-known kitchens in Manhattan that focused on farm to table cusine Frank came back to Ithaca and did some work with the Food Truck Roundup, before he came back to lead the kitchen at Northstar. Frank has really stepped up Northstar’s commitment to local providers and revamped Northstar’s menu. If you haven’t stopped by lately, find some time to have dinner, a well-crafted cocktail, or (in my opinion) the best brunch in town.
What’s your favorite local vegetable & why?
Sunchokes have been one of my favorites this year. It’s a flavor that a lot of people really underestimate, and when I put it in a dish, it always stands out. We do a winter hash, run the sunchokes over a mandoline, thinly slice them and then sauté with potatoes and kale. We serve it with sausage gravy and two eggs.
What 3 ingredients do you always have in your home kitchen?
Eggs. Ground beef (Autumn’s Harvest is Frank’s favorite), and Maldon Sea Salt . It’s a flaky sea salt that gives every dish a final touch and packs a lot of flavor. It’s a unique thing to have in your kitchen if you want to take your cooking to the next level.
You’re probably never home, but when you are, what’s your go-to quick dinner?
My favorite thing is poached egg on butter brioche. I always keep brioche loaf on hand. It’s quick and easy.
What would people be surprised to find in your refrigerator?
No-chicken base. A lot of vegetarians come in the restaurant and it gives a similar flavor to chicken that’s completely vegetarian. It’s featured in a new vegetarian soup on the menu.
What’s your best tip for home cooks?
An easy way to elevate your cooking, if you have the money to spend on it, the technique of sous-vide is the next step for any home-cook. I always advise people to go online, get Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator or a Sansaire Sous-Vide Immersion Circulator . We use them here, and it takes our food to the next level. Short ribs so tender, brisket that tastes like prime rib. It’s so slow and maintains an even temperature. For home cooks, you’re always looking for a cheaper cut that can help feed the whole family. Local, grass fed beef can be a $18 per pound, but if you try cheaper cuts like the bottom round it comes in around $7 per pound.