[Photo: Betsy Kershner]
It's crunch time at Prospect as the forthcoming 120-seat restaurant from executive chef and partner, Ravi Kapur, Nancy Oakes, Pam Mazzola and Kathy King gears up for a June 29th opening. Yesterday Eater SF waded through the under-wraps dining room into the gorgeous chef-driven kitchen for a quick word with Ravi, who took time out of his first day of menu trials to chat with us about Prospect plans and his favorite ways to blow off steam after a tough pre-opening day.
What are the major differences between what you were doing as chef de cuisine at Boulevard and what you're doing now as executive chef at Prospect? We're not changing our mission, but with the higher price point at Boulevard I think there are higher expectations and certain ingredients that people are expecting to see. Now we don't have to get into that; and we have a different set of tools we get to use. The cooking style here is going to include planchas and flat tops so we'll be implementing more modern techniques and using modern equipment.
Would you say that your approach is farm-to-table? We don't preach it, but we're definitely inspired by the season. The farmers are doing great things for us. Do you think people are tired of hearing about the farmers on the menu? No I don't think so, I think now people are even more excited to hear about farmers than they were before. For a while the way it got communicated was a little in-your-face on menus, but now I think it's to the point where people assume we're using great farmers and the attitude has leveled out.
So what does a typical pre-opening day look like for you? The menu has been conceptual for a long time. Now we're making sure the execution and what we thought about line up. Up until now I was managing the project and construction. Now we're able to focus on the food and we basically have a week to figure it all out. We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday cleaning and putting stuff away and today we're starting to cook. We're bringing staff in on Monday.
We've heard it said that Prospect will be "your baby." What roles are you, Nancy Oakes and Pam Mazzola playing in this menu development? Well I need to set the record straight that it's not my baby. I've been cooking with Nancy and Pam for eight years, so there's no way I could not think about what they would do in the kitchen. Together we are able to come to a much more interesting place that we ever could on our own. This is a large undertaking and there's no way I could ever say that I could do this on my own.
Are there any early stand-out dishes you can identify that you think people are going to keep returning for? Well I'm so not good at hyping myself up. I hope so and we're testing things, and I think chefs in general are their own biggest critics and so terrified by negative criticism. I don't want to sound cliche, but we hope every dish is going to be worth coming back for. We're working hard to think about textures and layers of flavor in everything we do.
Ok, so now some fun questions. What are your go-to spots when you're off? Nopa and Beretta. That's it. If I get out early, I eat at Incanto. How do you blow off steam? I hang out with my dog Hoku at my place in the Mission.
· Plywood Report: Prospect on Target [~ ESF ~]
· Boulevard Spinoff Prospect Finally Ready To Take Shape [~ ESF ~]