Chefs Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith are, to put it frankly, huge nerds. The chefs and co-owners of Saint-Germain in New Orleans openly geek out over ikejime, a Japanese fish-butchering technique (it’s considered more humane and helps keeps their menu prices down), or the results of a fermentation experiment (transforming scraps of venison into garum, a fish sauce–like condiment that takes three months to make). It’s hard to resist getting caught up in their earnest and infectious excitement.
“Blake and I view cuisine somewhere between a sport and an art,” says Smith. “We like to push things as far as we can.” Something’s always drying, curing, or fermenting at the restaurant. A batch of tomatoes, dropped off by a local farmer, dries in the sun on the balcony of Saint-Germain’s tin roof, after which they will ferment for a month. Most meals start out with a bread course featuring cultured butter that’s been aged so long it has started to taste like Parmesan. Smith rhapsodizes about a vegan cheese course he and Aguillard once made by preserving turnips for several months and then washing the root vegetables with the culture they use to make their in-house cheeses. “When you would eat these turnips, they tasted like Brie,” says Smith.
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award