Young and deliciously talented chefs Philip Kruta and Jeremy Kean of the WHISK pop up restaurant have chosen The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts as their next location to indulge customers in their five-course tasting menu.
Both classically trained in French cuisine, Chef Philip has also mastered the art of European Pastry, having crafted pastries at L’Espalier and founded his own custom pastry and cake business in 2011. Chef Jeremy draws on his experience abroad studying Indonesian cuisine and his time spent working at Rialto, Aquitaine and Garden in the Cellar. He co-operates an organic produce farm and they’re both committed to using seasonal, locally grown ingredients in their dishes. Here is an exclusive interview with them explaining the pop up business and their future goals, leading one to realize that their hearts are as finely tuned as their taste buds.
Thanks a lot for speaking with me at such a random time! I just have a couple questions for you guys. Firstly, how did you team up?
JEREMY KEAN: I had been in California running my organic farm and I came home here to start working and we met in the dog park. Our dogs got along really well. Phil was the pastry chef at a bakery called Fiore and we hung out for like two days and we just decided that we would start a pop-up restaurant.
A pop-up restaurant! I know many people aren’t familiar with what a pop-up restaurant is. I know I wasn’t. I think the concept is really fresh. What have you guys found to be the benefits and drawbacks of this type of restaurant?
JK: This question is actually pretty easy to answer, Phil if you feel we should. The benefits are, one we don’t have as much overhead. We’re not running a restaurant constantly so we don’t have all that cost, don’t have all the labor, we can change the menu every single time—we can basically cook whatever we want. A lot of the monotony that goes into working in restaurants the whole time is kind of taken out and it lets us enjoy the industry as much as we possibly can, it gives us more perks. And you know, better quality of life too. We don’t work every single day.
PHILIP KRUTA: Also, it’s cool and new.
If you were approached by investors and/or somehow given the opportunity to open a seven day, “normal restaurant” would you?
PK: No matter what, we want to do something that’s new and hasn’t been done and is somehow different. So that’s one of the things that has made us not want a restaurant that is open every day that has all these similarities to other restaurants. We want to keep coming up with new conceptual ways to cook our food.
JK: …We have had investors offer to buy us a restaurant and we said no.
Good for you! This is more for my personal curiosity but how did you choose the name WHISK?
PK: Well, before I met Jeremy, I was gonna start a late night dessert bar type thing almost as a pop-up but just desserts. I sort of started it under the name “Whisk” because I had been using that to make wedding cakes for a few years before that and it just sort of evolved. When Jeremy came on, we got the full savory menu going and eventually it evolved into the tasting menus that we do now. So we just kept the name because it was popular, people liked it and we already had it in place.
Cool, what can we expect from WHISK or from you guys in the future?
PK: Basically, once a month now we’re gonna do these tasting menu events, but we are transitioning into developing a more street food style approach to pop-ups and targeting JP but also Cambridge and Somerville, and offering more affordable food in an a la carte situation. Rather than buying tickets, sitting down and having 5 courses, you can pick a few items off the menu that you want to choose.
JK: Also, even more immediate is—I don’t know if you read about the benefit dinner we just did. I have a background in teaching and Philip’s really getting into it as well. We’re kind of starting our own training program. Programs like The Home for Little Wanderers, The Haley House, Future Chefs which is also another sort of “at risk” youth chef program. We’re starting to work with them to get kids into our pop-up and start learning about it because it’s a very new and cool thing. We’re beginning to take students and develop a training program, so I’d say in the future one of our huge goals is to have a commissary kitchen that teaches classes so we would be training at risk youth to cook all the things that we’re cooking anyway. It not only creates jobs for kids, it enables us to teach and it enables us to get our press done.
Wow, that’s awesome…I wasn’t expecting to hear something that great. That’s slightly related to the event at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts this weekend?
JK: We’re doing a pop-up there, we’re just getting a ton of students—it’s like the way we’re paying rent. As we’re a pop-up restaurant, we gotta move around all different places to do our pop-ups and we find that each business or whatever has very different ways that they want their rent paid. At Cambridge Culinary, we are taking students on and teaching them the pop-up from beginning to end, so menu writing, where we sort the food from, the accounting, the prep and then the service and how the tasting format goes and just let them kinda get a taste of the fire.
PK: We sell all tickets on our website
Do you guys have anything else that you think would be especially important to include in the article that you want the readers from Boston, Cambridge or Somerville to get from this?
PK: Yeah, I mean put as much emphasis as you can on the upcoming street food if it’s going to be targeting Cambridge and Somerville. That’d be cool.
JK: Look out for WHISK! We’re not quitting. We’re going big.
SAT 10.6.12 & SUN 10.7.12
CAMBRIDGE SCHOOL OF CULINARY ARTS