When Natasha Feldman looks at young adults in America, she often sees a common problem - they don't know how to cook. Not for themselves, nor their friends. Feldman - aka Tash - is a trained chef that works as a personal chef and produces and hosts the online video series Nosh with Tash, now in its second season. The recipes she demos are what she calls "reinvented millennial staples." With a light-hearted manner, she takes ownership of dishes that are part of the restaurant vernacular but not often brought into the home kitchen.
Digital Producer Chip Walton talked with Tash about the show and dug into few of the recipes from the show: Seasonal Vegetable Frittata, Foolproof Lemon + Fennel Branzino, and the holiday feast-friendly Stuffing Muffins. Read a bit of background on each recipe and watch the recipe video in the section below their interview. To see what recipes she cooks up next, follow Nosh with Tash on Instagram and YouTube.
Chip Walton: Your videos are fun and engaging. I imagine people of all ages appreciate them, but who do you see as the main audience for Nosh with Tash?
Natasha Feldman: These are smart, interesting, fun and capable people who have a million different things that they are great at, and cooking is not one of the areas they have gotten to know intimately. This is a common problem with people that are my age – in the range of 30 to 35 years old – where we’ve spent so much of our lives so far working towards a goal of being successful and leaving our mark on the world, and that sometimes doesn’t leave space for being Martha Stewart. Then you get to a certain age where eating Top Ramen and working late hours isn’t cute anymore and your body is no longer able to fend for itself; you need a way to sustain yourself. You realize that you’ve been going to restaurants and you know what delicious food tastes like, but then you come home and feel like a failure because of all the things you’re good at, cooking isn’t one of them.
CW: What is your goal with the show?
NF: I understand why people can end up feeling frustrated about cooking, and I wanted to provide a voice that I felt was missing. I’m basically saying, “I hear you!” I’m not going to try to convince you that you should be cooking a three-course meal each night, or that you should be making each ingredient from scratch. I’m working to make recipes that are simple, but have tricks and details that make your food feel and taste better. My goal is to give you skills that you can use over and over again to build your kitchen toolbox in a fun way.
CW: How is it different from other online – or even on-air – cooking shows?
NF: I want to break down this barrier between the idea of a TV chef and a friend. The TV chef never messes up; everything is prepared for them in little bowls, so it takes two seconds for them to put a dish together. The entire thing has become fairly unrealistic. I want to provide some balance. I might mess up, and if that’s the case I’m going to fix it and you’re going to see it. It strips some of the ego out of it. People learn in a fun way and also realize that failure is part of the journey.
I also set out to make a show with zero waste. Because I’ve been in the business of making food content for a while, the amount of food that is totally edible that I’ve seen go in the trash fundamentally bothers me. For that reason we shoot everything only once. I’m not going to buy two chickens if I’m only going to show one at the end. If we have to wait for it to cook, then we’re just going to have to wait. What you see if what you get. The crew eats all the food in-between or takes it home at the end of the night.
CW: You explain the types of dishes you make on the show as reinvented millennial staples? How do you discern what is in that category versus the staples of other generations?
NF: For me, a millennial staple is something that you would see at a restaurant and think would be hard to make, but it actually isn’t – things like a beet hummus or a whole broiled fish or matza ball soup. They’re dishes that if you dig below the surface a little bit you find that they are quite doable.
The first thing I think a millennial staple should be is relatively easy. [laughing] Easy doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t take time. Like when I made matza ball soup from scratch in Season One. That takes some time; if you want to make really good bone broth it has to simmer for hours. But it’s hands-off. You can leave it for a while, go do something else, and it’s done. And it’s not futzy. I don’t have people make a consommé; it doesn’t have to be crystal clear. It’s about taking out some of the fussy details that some past generations would have used to identify whether something was done well and getting to the end result quickly, possibly making it a bit more foolproof along the way.
Tash says: "A frittata is totally a ‘kitchen sink recipe.’ You can use almost any vegetable, any cheese, any deli meat. It’s hard to find foods that taste bad in a frittata. If you have anything in your fridge that is a little bit on the wilted side or maybe isn’t going to be good in a few days, I love the frittata because it’s an opportunity to not waste that food and to get those ingredients into a yummy baked egg dish. Frittata are also good in that they keep well. You can cut a slice and enjoy it warm the first day. Then you can have it for breakfast or lunch cold in the following days – or stick it under the broiler to reheat it. It’s my favorite kind of recipe because it hits all the points: it includes great fundamentals, it’s easy, and it’s something you never get tired of. I call it “seasonal” because the idea, again, is that you should be eating fruits and vegetables that you have available at any given time of year. For the home cook, you’ll have less work to do when your food when already tastes good and fresh from the garden or the market."
Tash say: "You get a whole fish that is fresh and delicious. Have your fishmonger take off the scales and clean it out. Now you have this beautiful fish. Take whatever herbs and vegetables you have – fennel or tomatoes or onion – and stuff them into the cavity. If you have seeds or spices that you love, put those on the top, bottom and a little bit inside with some olive oil. And because the fish still has the skin on it, you can get the heat to the meat slower and you have more control over it instead of just broiling the heck out of it. You also get some fat from the skin, so it’s an automatic way to make your fish taste better. You can serve it with anything you want, you can make it taste like it came from anywhere in the world by adjusting what you serve it with – whether it’s brown rice or couscous or a chopped salad. Or maybe you want to do it mole-style or you want to make it North African or a California fresh version. It’s easy to adjust and adapt."
Tash says: "This is a new way of looking at a holiday classic. I feel like everyone has different parts of stuffing that they like – some like the gooey center, some like the crispy, crunchy edges. And it’s always a mad dash to get the thing that you like. You always feel like someone is eyeing your corner, and the person next to you is actually eyeing the center. It’s humanity at its worse; it’s the gridlock of the Thanksgiving table! [laughs] This dish is a solution to that problem. Because when you make muffins instead of a big bowl or pan of stuffing, everyone gets everything. You’re going to have crispy edges, a buttery bottom and a moist, gooey inside. It’s cute, it cooks faster, and if you have some people that like sausage or some other ingredient in theirs, you can easily customize them. Plus, I just love saying 'stuffing muffins.'"
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