What Chefs Eat at Home: Trevett Hooper, Legume
The Legume chef invites us inside his kitchen as he cooks for his adorable family.
Photo by Laura Petrilla
Among many other things — including the flawless flavors coming from his kitchen at Legume that garnered his prestigious James Beard Award nomination in 2013 — chef Trevett Hooper has been known for his commitment to sustainability, long before it became trendy in Pittsburgh. He has served antibiotic-free meat since 2009, long before touting the practice became the politically correct conventional wisdom.
Hooper has been both a leader and a skeptic of the farm-to-table movement; he caused a stir when he wrote in his newsletter earlier this year that he was reconsidering his hyper-local ethos. Indeed, Trevett’s beautiful food comes with conviction. I would say Legume is one of our best restaurants — not because of hype but because of the skill and care (and heart) that goes into every plate.
Hooper is not alone in his passion. Dan Barber, chef of the groundbreaking Blue Hill restaurants and one of TIME’s Most Influential People of 2009, writes in his new book, “The Third Plate,” that “the local food movement has failed to change how we eat.” He goes on to say that “even the most enlightened eating of today is ultimately detrimental to the environment and to individual health . . . And it doesn’t involve truly delicious food.”
Perhaps it was the pursuit of maximum flavor that spurred much of Hooper’s initial skepticism. But his insistence on using only responsibly farmed animals and utilizing the whole animal are hallmarks of the sustainability argument in “The Third Plate.”
My readers know that I encourage a (mostly) plant-based diet. I believe that it is the most sustainable, healthy way to eat. However, I do believe that if you are going to eat meat, you must seek out sources that are most ecologically and humanely raised. Is that option more expensive? YES. But it is for a reason. For one, that may be because meat is meant to take up much less of the real estate on your plate (vs. vegetables).
So with Legume’s menu offering familiar steakhouse cuts as well as more-obscure parts — tripe and offal — I’d often wondered how Trevett Hooper eats at home. The answer surprised me.
Because Hooper is at Legume six days a week, his wife Sarah — who also works with him at Legume — takes the reins in the home kitchen. Sarah is a vegetarian, so Hooper’s statement of “how we eat at home is very different from how we cook at Legume” is easy to understand. Typical weekday dinners include brown rice, tofu and roasted vegetables. Sarah will sometimes make a mix of food she buys from the East End Food Co-Op and food she makes. Their 8-year-old daughter Clementine likes kombucha, which is one of the only other options for drinks aside from water because soda and juice are no-nos.
Balancing eating well, working and raising four kids is not an easy feat (I can relate!). Hooper tries to be home a few nights a week to share dinner with his family, and when he has the time, he makes the bread and granola they can have at home. He also makes strawberry jam and apple butter with the kids, depending on the season. His schedule tends to be mercurial, but breakfast is a constant. He makes it a point to be up early to be with the kids: “I have about an hour-and-a-half with them — and I think it’s good because I am not tired from a full day of work, and they are getting the best time with me,” Hooper says. “Breakfast is the one meal we always have as a family. And Sunday dinners.”
Sunday dinners are a family tradition. Sometimes they are joined by Sarah’s mom, who lives a couple of miles away, and their neighbors.
“We don’t eat a lot of meat at home because I’m pretty picky about meats we eat,” Hooper says. “I get most of it at the co-op from either Keystone Cooperative or New Wilmington.” Sunday dinner menu standards include homemade noodles or burgers from Butterjoint, the adjacent bar to Legume.
I was lucky enough to join the Hoopers for one of these Sunday dinners, and it was definitely a treat to hang out with their wonderful kids, who love to help make the noodles. And how lucky was I that ramps were on the menu? A simple dinner of handmade noodles and sautéed ramps, wine and the warmth of a family dinner couldn’t have been more perfect.
Chef Hooper shares his Sunday dinner recipe for Noodles with Greens, and I share a video of a little slice of their (Sunday) life.
For more photos of the warm and wonderful Sunday evening (and more pictures of Trevett and Sarah’s cute kids!), visit brazenkitchen.com.
Watch: Dinner with the Hoopers
Egg Noodles with Greens
by Trevett Hooper
Serves about 6
2 cups flour*
Salt, for seasoning water
Water, for boiling
Greens (kale or ramps, based on preference and/or availability)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Butter, for serving
Parmesan, for garnish
* Note: These measurements are directly linked; if upping number of servings, increase these accordingly.
1. In a big (preferably metal) bowl, put in all-purpose flour. I use three eggs for every two cups of flour.
2. Make a well in the flour and crack the eggs directly into well. Whisk eggs with a fork, gradually introducing flour into the egg mixture. When it becomes impossible to do this any longer, set aside the fork and start kneading the dough with your hands.
3. Once the dough is smooth, wrap it and set aside to hydrate. The dough should be stiff, much stiffer than bread. If it too loose, add more flour.
4. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.
5. With a rolling pin (or pasta roller), roll out noodles to a thickness you want. With a chef's knife, cut noodles into the thickness you want.
6. Boil the noodles in generously salted water, keeping in mind there is no salt in the dough. Dryer noodles take longer to cook; wetter noodles cook more quickly. I start tasting noodles after two minutes of boiling.
7. When noodles are done, drain and toss with butter and parmesan cheese (or olive oil, if preferred).
1. Usually, we do kale on Sundays. But since it is spring, we used ramps.
2. Wash ramps very well. Make a few slits in the bottom bulb to help them cook more quickly.
3. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add ramps and sauté two or three minutes until completely cooked. Sprinkle with salt to taste. (Sauté chopped kale in garlic, as an alternative.)
4. Add a squirt of lemon juice before serving.
To Serve: Toss noodles and greens together. I like to top with a fried egg.
Other Ideas: If I were just cooking for adults, I would have made ramp pesto by puréeing some raw ramps, walnuts, parmesan cheese and lemon juice and tossed it with the pasta. I would have done this in addition to sautéed ramps.
Trevett Hooper and Legume Bistro host like-minded chefs Kevin Costa of Crested Duck Restaurant and Steven Beachy of Marty’s Market at a “Healthy Farms, Healthy Families” dinner supporting Food and Water Watch’s national campaign.
(May 4, 5-8 p.m., $90 per person; proceeds go to Food & Water Watch)