The old adage “too many cooks spoil the broth” is being put deliciously to the test at The Tasty, a modern New England gastropub nestled on Court Street in Plymouth. The tiny kitchen is shared by three chefs who, each day, roll out a new menu that is as inspired as they are. It’s rare to see more than one chef ruling a kitchen, but at The Tasty a collaborative brotherhood reigns.
Chef-owner Mike Peters sees himself as a big brother to younger chefs Brent Turner and John Hamilton. Though Mike is older, the other two chefs have years of restaurant experience, and each brings his own wisdom and point of view to the business. One might expect a clashing of egos and pans, a raucous kitchen. But the reality is quite harmonious and unexpectedly symbiotic. The ambition of the three chefs spills over to the dining room where customers are gently nudged to stretch both their taste buds and their expectations.
Asked to explain what talent they personally bring to the table, the chefs shyly clammed up and seemed uncomfortable focusing on their individual strengths. However, when asked what each other has to offer, the words flowed easily. Chef John is praised for the artistic vision that he brings; each plate composed and balanced, evoking another talent of his, photography. Chef Brent is given super-hero status for his ability to source local ingredients and to forge relationships with growers and purveyors. Chef Mike, a self-taught chef, is knighted with a natural ability to bring out “ridiculous” flavor in his food. Each praises the others’ hard work ethic and commitment to their craft and shares a mutual desire to make their customers feel like friends.
Tomorrow’s work begins as tonight’s service ends. Each night the chefs-in-arms noodle over the list of available local ingredients and the successes of recent plates, and begin riffing off their inspired imaginations. Tomorrow’s menu begins to take shape.
On a day when the dark of winter cedes to the brightness of spring, the chefs’ thoughts turn to young spring peas, mint-infused vinaigrettes, and the colorful varieties of asparagus that will soon be poking their points through the ground. A turn around the kitchen reveals pickled radishes that become the bold pop of flavor that inspires tomorrow’s salad. Chef Brent’s call to a local purveyor affirms that duck can be in the kitchen tomorrow; Chef John’s photographic imagination begins to envision hand-turned vegetables on the plate; Chef Mike begins to layer his beloved Asian flavors onto the ingredients.
Just as no three days are ever alike in the home kitchen, so it goes at The Tasty. Tuesday nights might have a taco theme, with each of the chefs working side by side in a lighthearted competition to see whose handcrafted tacos are most popular. On Noodle Bowl Night, the kitchen sends out redolent bowls of spicy ramen, chicken pho with fresh herbs and steaming green curry rice bowls with charred broccoli, spinach, grilled lime, and bean shoots (chopsticks optional!). Comforting standbys like burgers and salmon are always on the menu, though their preparation might be amped up with fresh local flavors and sides.
The chefs, together with co-owner and self-proclaimed boss Nina Peters, recently ordered a 110-pound Tamworth heritage breed hog from Brown Boar Farm in Vermont and dove into a two-night nose-to-tail menu. It was an all-hands-on-deck endeavor, with each bringing his own culinary spin to the experience. From the tiny kitchen, they produced an eleven-course tasting menu that blended the familiar with the unexpected. A home-style split pea soup was simmered with hand-smoked trotters, and a classic pig in a blanket was elevated with a handmade hot dog rolled in a flaky puff pastry with a sidekick of pickled onion relish. A carefully crafted beverage pairing matched swine-friendly wines and beers with each dish.
It was an intense night in the kitchen, and still, the convivial brotherhood held together, with each of the three chefs taking up a station in the kitchen and executing each other’s dishes with care and precision. The occasional bit of good-natured ribbing eased the intensity. The bar and dining room were bustling; Nina and her staff had their hands full making sure that each table received the 11 courses at a nice pace. With so many new ingredients on the menu, the staff took the time to explain what headcheese is or how the handmade whole-wheat gnocchi is different than a classic potato-based gnocchi. It’s here in the front of the house that the heart and soul of The Tasty hits home. The chefs, Nina, and the small corps of servers want their guests to feel as if they are in a place where food is love, and the chefs’ love of food can be savored in every tasty bite.
42 Court Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
By: Michelle Roden Conway (when not at her desk job) gobbles up recipes, cooks up a storm, randomly writes food articles, and invents culinary adventures for her family and friends.
WITH WALNUTS, PROSCIUTTO, RICOTTA, AND GRILLED LEMON VINAIGRETTE
WITH PISTACHIO MERINGUE
WITH ASPARAGUS, FRIED EGG & NORI