At Sant Ambroeus, we recognize the power of the vegetable in our creations and are committed to using fresh, seasonal produce that highlights the beauty of the natural world.
Eating for Well-Being
In the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice arrives with the invigorating energy of the sun. As if enchanted by an unspoken spell, we come together more often to enjoy the outdoors at its warmest and most vibrant.
Picnics at the park and beach days on the shore are dictated by our love of summertime. During these encounters, fresh fruits and vegetables are staples in the community experience that entice us with a rainbow of colors, textures, and flavors. Think: juicy steak tomatoes, bright yellow zucchini, spicy arugula, and perfectly sweet strawberries. Through our senses, we are reminded that nature is perfect and can afford us the simplest of pleasures each and every day.
The seasonality of vegetables is the ultimate point of reference when creating dishes that evoke a true sensory experience. Chefs with a sensibility for nature’s processes have the honor to become the final component in a cycle made possible by a mix of sunshine, water, and soil working together honestly and effortlessly. At Sant Ambroeus, we recognize the power of the vegetable in our creations and are committed to using fresh, seasonal produce that highlights the beauty of the natural world.
OUR APPROACH TO SEASONAL PLANT-BASED COOKING
At our restaurants, the planning of dishes begins months in advance. Culinary Director, Iacopo Falai, and Corporate Chef, Andrea Pancani, use their personal experience and culinary knowledge to imagine the textures and flavors of the upcoming seasonal fare. Spring and summer are exceptionally creative times for our chefs, who use the abundance of seasonal vegetables as their primary mediums. Iacopo highlights, “Vegetables are more versatile than animal proteins. Depending on how you cut or cook them, they can taste drastically different.”
Following a growing demand for plant-based dishes over the past years, Andrea even feels like his approach to cooking has transformed. He says, “Plant-based cooking truly opened my mind. I feel a connection to the vegetables, and now, I study how each and every one can be used and given the importance it deserves.” However, before creation can begin, the backbone of Iacopo and Andrea’s success relies on trustworthy suppliers who can provide sufficient organic, fresh produce, such as Brooklyn Grange, Square Roots, and Natoora. “Eating well is the beginning of the culinary process. Choosing the right provider is the base of that process,” says Iacopo.
Their relationships with providers are based on open dialogues regarding realistic production expectations and honest opinions on produce. For both Iacopo and Andrea, the opportunity to be present during the vegetables’ growing process, as is the case with some produce, has become not only quality control for the restaurants but a passion they now enjoy incorporating into their lives. Andrea says, “During the spring and summer, I visit Brooklyn Grange at least once a week. Even on my off days, my wife and I drive upstate to visit farms that we work with and to look for new ones.”
Particularly during the summer, the dishes at Sant Ambroeus reflect the ever-growing trust and communication that has been established between our chefs and purveyors. Andrea recounts, “For example, we were looking for thin, delicate parsley leaves, and Brian from Natoora introduced me to a farmer that could help. We started having a conversation about the desired texture, and in a few weeks, they sent me a sample box that we loved. We had our parsley. Those little things make all the difference.” That same parsley would then go on to be used in fresh dishes like Patate Prezzemolate, a cold potato salad, and Scallop di Sedano Rapa, a main dish that combines pan-seared vegan celery root scallops, green peas, oregano, parsley gel, tomato fillet, and parsley salad.
APPRECIATION OF NATURE IS REFLECTED IN ITALIAN CULTURE AND CUISINE
Italian culture and cuisine have a near reverence for nature’s bounty. Their respect for even the most nuanced flavors and freshness stems from the small country’s immense biodiversity, making it the ideal place for agriculture. While Italian cuisine is highly regional, it mainly falls under the famous Mediterranean diet. This eating style emphasizes plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, and it includes less dairy and meat than a typical Western diet. Another one of its key components is the use of olive oil instead of animal fats. “We know that eating more greens and whole grains are linked to improved health, but studies have also shown that olive oil can be a healthy factor in reducing many different types of chronic diseases. The Mediterranean diet is a diet for a long life,” says Iacopo.
EATING WELL FOR ENHANCED WELL-BEING
Our customers at Sant Ambroeus have demonstrated a heightened interest in plant-based cuisine and organic, quality produce in recent years. While many in the culinary world have jumped to categorize it as a trend, Iacopo says it best, “Being well starts with eating well.” The natural desire to eat from a place of well-being for our planet and ourselves is a sign of the times and a way to contribute to a better way of life for everyone. Andrea adds, “The plant-based movement teaches us that our soil can give us so much, and sometimes we don’t understand the importance of that. Even a fresh, simple salad can contribute to our health, leading us to respect our planet even more.”
As society continues to transform, and even as necessary changes of habits arise, Sant Ambroeus will support our customers in their newfound sensibilities regarding health, sustainability, and the quality of food systems. Through our love for creating authentic Italian cuisine, we are allowing nature to take its course to supply us with what we need.