Long before food was a fad and long before farm-to-table was something one said to impress one's date, North Pond Restaurant was creating dishes that aimed less to impress and more to satisfy by focusing on the natural goodness of local produce.
Originally opening as North Pond Café in 1998 and later becoming North Pond in 2002, the food at North Pond, under Executive Chef Bruce Sherman (2012 James Beard Award Winner, 2014 Michelin Star), parallels the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts building which houses it and the natural setting that surrounds it.
The North Pond building, situated on the most Northern point of the North pond in Lincoln Park, was built in 1912 as a warming shelter for ice skaters in the park and later became a storage facility, and finally a concession stand in the 1970s and 1980s. It was built in the Arts and Crafts style that focused on artisans and tradesman creating household and everyday objects from start to finish, as a backlash and reaction to machinery mass-produced design. This attention to details and purity of form relied heavily on the base materials being as close to their natural state as possible. This is evident in the Fond du Lac stone used in North Pond's fireplace, the natural wood and metalwork in its walls and the proclivity of the building towards one of the city's most natural and beautiful spots.
Quotes adorn the room to remind diners of the connection between nature and the arts, and nature and our food. My favorite is:
" Make calm mine. To feel amidst the city's jar that there abides a peace of thine, Man did not make and will not mar." - Matthew Arnold.
Not surprisingly, and as you will see in the videos below, Chef Bruce Sherman, one of the early pioneers and stalwart proponents of using local farmers, features dishes that also focus on the purity of local ingredients so that the path from earth to plate remains unadulterated and clear.
While I wouldn't necessarily say that Chef's recipes are simple (check the long ingredient list!), they are not fussy. Tastes that are elegant and distinct, built on complimentary, merging flavors like those that stem from Mutsu Apples and Cipollini in the recipes on video produce resilient and hearty dishes, with an unassuming air - just like the chef.
Much like a skilled artisan, Chef Sherman commented off-camera during the video shoots on the patience required in the kitchen and on the farm. "Patience doesn't come naturally in the kitchen. We want instant gratification. But you have to progress in the kitchen. ...I believe in cooking seasonally to benefit farms and farmers. I want to keep the farmer sustaining their farms economically. It is rewarding that there are more farms making a living because people care about what they eat. It is important to understand the value of food. It may be more expensive and take more time, but it is worth it. "
Enjoy Chef Sherman making an appetizer of Smoked Arctic Char Petite Pavé, Cauliflower "Couscous", Romanesco Buds, Rosemary-Pear Cauliflower Veloute, Almonds and an entrée of Pork Tenderloin Medallion, Andouille Sausage; Mutsu Apple Pudding, Roasted Carrot and Cipollini, Spigariello Greens, Ginger, and Beet in the back kitchen of North Pond for the upcoming September 23 Dinner Party.