It was an inspirational mission. Josh Coletto traveled to Montreal last week to dine at Joe Beef, a legendary French restaurant where reservations are elusive, and he returned with even more enthusiasm for the dinner he’ll be offering this Sunday.
Coletto is a chef, a CIA grad whom you may know from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brunches he cooked at the Low Beat, or the Flying Chicken, which he helped open, or the Cheese Travelers summer cookouts, or Philmont’s Local 111, or any of a number of Chef’s Consortium events. And he has cooked up a pop-up dinner that he’ll serve at Peck’s Arcade in Troy at 5 PM Sunday, April 9, with a four-course, French-centric menu.
“I’d been talking with (chef) Nick (Ruscitto) at Peck’s for a while about doing something there,” says Coletto, “and then I was talking with Michael Lapi (a chef-instructor at SUNY Cobleskill) about doing something together, and that’s what made me think about doing this: a family meal, at one large table, thirty people, platters of food, bottles of wine on the table. Simple service, everyone hanging out. Casual atmosphere, but really nice food.”
The Culinary Institute emphasizes French cuisine in its training, and Coletto planned his Montreal trip to reinforce those aspects. As for dinner at Joe Beef, “It was incredible. I spent more than I should have, but the server was so good – she set us up and paired wines for us and did an amazing job. They’re very good at what they do. So I was inspired by those French aspects and designed a very French-based menu for this one.”
Each course will feature several different platters. “We’ll start with some charcuterie that we’re going to make. Michael is a butchering instructor, so he’s going to be putting together homemade pâtés. I’ll be making sourdough bread and serving it with local butter. We’re trying to keep it to simple stuff in the beginning. There will be some mussels, an anchovy tart, and the food should keep on flowing throughout.
“Then all that will be cleared before main course, which will be a traditional French-style roast pork, using some local pigs and really long cooking times, sous vide, and served with sauce Robert. All in all, a lot of classic French ideas, but with our take on it.”
Although he was born in California, his family moved to Nassau, east of Albany, when he was young. His passion for cooking grew while he was in high school, so heading to the CIA seemed inevitable.
Coletto is a passionate believer in the farm-to-table approach, and spent time after his culinary training working in the Portland, Ore., area to immerse himself in an environment that shares that passion – and found himself in two kitchens that were named as among the city’s top ten.
It was music that brought him back. He’s a drummer, and “I played in bands while I lived around here, and then I left to cook – but I missed the people that I played with out here, and came back to take a little break from cooking.”
It continued to beckon, however. “I couldn’t find the people into local food as much as I wanted to, and then I met Noah Sheetz, who heads the Chef’s Consortium, and since I’ve been a member of that group, I’ve found people who feel the same way I do about food and cooking.”
As for this pop-up dinner, he hopes it’ll be the first of many. “I’d like to do it as a series, and not all of them will be French.” And not all of them will be at Peck’s, so keep an eye out in your own neighborhood.
Peck’s Arcade is at 217 Broadway in Troy. The dinner price is $130.37, which includes everything, including tip, and can be made here.