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Matt McCallister is closing his FT33

When chefs Matt McCallister and Ben Sukle get together at FT33, vegetables take center stage


yes, there were tweezers involved

yes, there were tweezers involved

beets, strawberries and blood sausage

beets, strawberries and blood sausage

pillows of tempura battered sweet potato stuffed, topped and sparked with cranberries, mustards and fermented garlic, plus curly green things

pillows of tempura battered sweet potato stuffed, topped and sparked with cranberries, mustards and fermented garlic, plus curly green things

right out of Robert Lyford's garden, this asparagus was poached in a yeasty broth with potatoes and wilted greens

right out of Robert Lyford’s garden, this asparagus was poached in a yeasty broth with potatoes and wilted greens

Ben Sukle was the guest chef; he owns Birch restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island

Ben Sukle was the guest chef; he owns Birch restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island

ft33 dinner matt mccallister and ben sukle by robert stricklandc

matt mccallister

These carrots had been roasted in smoked brisket fat, sourced from Jack Perkins' Slow Bone bbq joint

These carrots had been roasted in smoked brisket fat, sourced from Jack Perkins’ Slow Bone bbq joint

dessert married strawberries and lemon

dessert married strawberries, milk and lemon

The best thing about FT33, Matt McCallister’s Design Distict restaurant? Hands down, it’s that you never quite know what you’re going to get. “Carrots, onions and tomatoes” on the menu could show up pureed as a cold gazpacho just as easily as pickled in a jar.

Recently, I’ve been digging the roots and shoots McCallister’s been spotlighting on his plates. Foraged or field-grown, it’s a bounty of early spring produce that has captivated his attention — and my palate.

Apparently, Ben Sukle, the chef of Birch in Providence, Rhode Island, digs veggies, too. At a sold-out guest chef dinner last week, the chef duo threw down a green revolution that crack photographer Robert Strickland captured and shares above the fold. McCallister and Sukle — and chefs like Graham Dodds at Hibiscus, Andrew Bell at Bolsa and Bruno Davaillon at the Mansion on Turtle Creek — are steadily moving produce from the sidelines to center court.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be a vegetarian to embrace the realignment; the good chefs like to use a kick of bacon or a ham bone from time to time, while the best, like McCallister and Sukle, will sneak in something uber-meaty like smear of smoked brisket fat to make irresistible even the roots you thought you hated most.

These guys could probably make George Bush love broccoli.

 Photos courtesy of Robert Strickland. Check out his portfolio here.

 

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