London Mash: Andrew Gerson // Interview

andrew gerson

Brooklyn Brewery’s head chef and all around beer and food cheerleader Andrew Gerson gets ready to get Mashed.

As a graduate of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, and an active member of Slow Food, Andrew Gerson has made it his mission to support local food systems in communities across the world.

“And I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Brooklyn team, to demonstrate our philosophy of good beer and real food” says Gerson.

Andrew is coming to London to take part in the Brooklyn Brewery Mash tour, and has picked up some new culinary ideas from his recent travels in the States to share with London foodies. This means farm-to-table cuisine steeped in regional flavours – with a dash of Brooklyn sprinkled in for good measure.

Prior to becoming the culinary ambassador of the Brooklyn Brewery, Andrew helped launch Antica Pesa Williamsburg, after working at their flagship restaurant in Rome, and co-founded the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association. Chef Andrew brought his love for handmade pasta back from Italy, where he lived, studied, and cooked for three years, to showcase at Strada Pasta, a pop up dinner series in Philadelphia.

Now he tells us why you should join him and to part in the London Mash tour:

You are on a mission to cook, eat, talk and drink your way across the globe, with your next stop at Brooklyn Brewery’s London Mash which starts this week. Excited?

I can’t wait to get back to London. My father moved to London when I was seven, so I spent a lot of time on your side of the pond growing up. London is like a second home to me. I can’t wait to share a week with family, great friends, and beer enthusiasts. We have some great programming all week long. London Mash Is going to be pretty bonkers.

You seem to have a great job – food, drink, travel and meeting new people. It sounds like you have the perfect job. What have been the biggest challenges so far? And what’s given you the most joy?

Funnily enough, the biggest challenge is also the greatest joy. Getting to collaborate with so many talented chefs, musicians, artisans, restaurateurs, craftsmen, brewers, entrepreneurs, and distillers, is invigorating but the logistics of organizing it all can be tough. Our team gets to work with so many inspiring folks but it is hard to nail down details with a bunch of super busy forward-thinking individuals.

Recently you’ve been doing some travelling around the States, meeting innovative chefs such as Chris Shepherd of Houston’s Underbelly and Paco Roberts of NOLA’s DinnerLab. What ideas have you picked up from your rounds that you will be bringing to London?

My cooking has developed so much over the last two years in response to the many chefs I have had collaborated with. By using our chef and farm network we are able to get great quality ingredients to transform into delicious food. I will be featuring some tricks I have learned along the way but you will have to join us at some of our dinners to find out what’s in store for you.

Our industrial agricultural system is in a state of dismay and it is time we honour support, and showcase those farmers and producers who are making a positive impact.

And do you expect you’ll nab an idea or two from London and take it back to Brooklyn?

The beauty of this job is that every time I get to work with a chef and his team I learn something new. I am constantly humbled by my experiences in so many different kitchens and I get to keep passing along this knowledge as I go. The collaborative process of developing a menu with a chef always provides new insight into familiar ingredients.

During the London Mash tour, you are hosting a farm-to-table evening at Surrey Dock Farms with fellow chefs Matt Bishop and Craig Morris. Do you think eaters (that’s all of us…) need to visit farms more? And whose idea was the roasted root vegetables with a sorrel & cilantro chimichurri?

I think everyone should spend more time on farms. Our industrial agricultural system is in a state of dismay and it is time we honour support, and showcase those farmers and producers who are making a positive impact on the environment and our food system. Plus farm dinners are amazingly fun. The root vegetable dish was my idea, a nice way of blending the last hearty bits of the winter harvest with a fresh bite of summer.

Later in the week, you are hosting a pasta and beer evening at Burro e Salvia with Gaia Enria. Tell us how easy it is to make fresh pasta and why it is so much better (and cheaper) than buying it chilled at the supermarket. And what do the Italians think about the pasta and beer combo?

I will be in Italy before I come to London, and there is nothing better than fresh pasta and a simple sauce. I used to run a fresh pasta company and I am a serious supporter of fresh pasta. The process of rolling pasta for me is a beautifully meditative process with a delicious result. The Italians are coming around to the pasta and beer pairing. There are some great craft breweries in Italy paving the way for a new resurgence of artisan craft beer and food pairings. If you like pasta and beer you should try our collaboration beer with Amarcord Brewery‘s Ama Bionda or Ama Bruna.

At Burro e Salvia, you’ll talk about ‘correcting common mistakes’ and ‘the function of pasta shapes, which pastas work best with different sauces, and which beers work best with various pasta dishes’. So tell us your favourite pasta shape + favourite beer.

I am a stickler for an egg pappaerdelle with a slow braised lamb ragu. For me a glass of Local 2 (a strong dark Belgian Abbey ale) and a heaping bowl of pappaerdelle with a white lamb ragu might be the best combo in the world!

During the week, you’ll also tackle foraging in Borough Market and devour the Visions Festival and its multitude of food trucks. Food trucks are a new thing on the culinary scene in London. How do you think they have revolutionised the way in which people think about dining out? And have they made diners more adventurous or willing to try new things?

I worked for a time in the London street food scene as I was doing research for my thesis and creating my own business plan to launch a fresh pasta food truck in the States. I am a firm believer in the positive benefits of food trucks in urban environments. Food trucks and street stalls provide food access, foster business, reinvigorate communities, and offer affordable healthy alternatives to processed and fast food. I could not be a bigger advocate for street food.

Finally, you’ll be slowing it down and hosting a Slow Supper with fellow chef Matthew Kennard. What is it about the Slow Food movement that makes it worth supporting? And you also will unveil some rare Brooklyn beers that will be paired with food – any hints on the menu?

The menu is a surprise, but it will be posted early this week. Whether you call it the slow food movement or any other name it is important for us to support our local community, to support artisans, farmers, brewers, chefs, fisherman, craftsmen, and the like that ensure we can still source good clean and fair food, grown, harvested, transported, and consumed in a sustainable manner. It might seem like farm to table options re ubiquitous but it is sadly not the case. Like craft beer, the good stuff is a small minority compared to the massive companies that provide the majority for the world with their food and beverages.

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For more information and tickets to all the events Andrew Gerson talks about, head here.