While literally having a (meat)ball at Koreatown Eats during NYCWFF, Daniel Holzman shared with me some of his experiences in the food industry and how he came to open a shop so different from the restaurants in which he trained.
The more we spoke, the more I saw that he is a man who knows what he wants and where he is going, so he grabbed a persimmon from Daniel Smillie's Upland table and as he dug in, I did too.
Holzman started out at Le Bernardin under the tutalage of Chef Eric Ripert, where he amassed a, "10-year culinary journey through some of the West Coast’s finest restaurants including The Campton Place, The Fifth Floor, Aqua and Jardinière." So how did he come to open a shop dedicated to the arguably not-so-fancy meatball?
The enigmatic Meatball Shop owner came up with the idea because he was tired of working in fancy restaurants (like these brunch spots) for the "ultra-rich," so he opened a restaurant that's "ultra-accesible." He admitted that he never really spoke to Ripert about the idea, "Come to think of it, I think he never came in. That's rude of him, right?"
I had to ask, if he wasn't eating his own meatballs, which would be his other favorite. The meatballs at Hearth came to his mind immediately.
And because Holzman is all about accessibility, I had to ask if he had any advice to people who say they can't cook. "It's not true. People get freaked out and make cooking more than it is," says Holzman. It's not beyond anyone's ability or intelligence to learn to cook. He says to start small, and eventually you'll get the hang of it.
Before I left him to the festival-goers, I had to have him give us his solutions to some popular food debates. Here are his very specific instructions.
Should pizza be folded or eaten open?
DH: Fold it when you're walking. Eat it whole if you're sitting.
Hot dogs with ketchup or mustard?
DH: Mustard, unless you cook your onions in ketchup and use that as a topping.
Thoughts on french fry dipping in milkshakes/Frosty's?
DH: Delicious and amazing and I'm all for it.
How should you really eat an Oreo?
DH: Twist and lick, then eat the cookies. But after a few you just start eating them whole.
Coke or Pepsi?
DH: Coke with Chinese food and Pepsi with Barbecue.
Best way to cook steak?
So take Holzman's advice, try his meatballs and then make some of your own.