There aren’t too many chefs who can also throw a mean fastball so be sure not to anger Chef Joe Marcus. Marcus, a Long Island native, was a star pitcher throughout his youth, which earned him a baseball scholarship. After and injury that took him out of the game, he began to concentrate on his other love, cooking. Marcus’ had foresight and secretly filled out an application to one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the USA, Johnson and Wales.
After a year out West, Marcus was eager to return to New York where he staged at Cafe Boulud under Andrew Carmellini before taking on his first sous chef position at Picholine with Terrence Brennan. During his nearly three year stint at Picholine, Marcus headed the kitchen staff while planning daily specials and continuing his immersion into French cuisine. One of his favorite creations was a riff on his childhood favorite dish, mac and milk. Just like his mother, he cooked macaroni in milk, similar to cereal, and paired it with a pheasant sausage cooked in milk.
Marcus continued to create new dishes when he assumed his first Executive Chef position at West Bank Cafe, in NYC’s Theater District. He loved “the rush of cooking my food for such a large amount of people including some really interesting guests from our downstairs theater.”In his five years there, he helped plan parties for up to 300 people. Dealing with high volume was a useful skill in his next role at Raymond’s in Montclair, New Jersey where he served nearly 900 covers during brunch and dinner in the American bistro.
Currently, Marcus is the Executive Chef at Spina, the East Village fresh pasta house. He enjoys the freedom to experiment with unusual ingredients and flavor combinations. When not in the kitchen, Marcus is either boxing, reading, or researching new recipe and menu ideas.
“This dish is extremely popular because it has so many great ingredients! From heirloom tomatoes, at the height of their season and anchovies add such a great flavors. We grill the bacon so it adds a nice smoky fatty flavor to the salted juicy tomatoes. Then the arugula catches all the left over sauce that’s been mixed together. It’s a fun play on the BLT sandwich”
Heirloom Tomato “BLT”Salad
- 2 slices cooked Applewood smoked bacon, chopped
- 1 large Heirloom Tomato
- 1 egg, beaten
- Pinch of Flour
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
- ¼ cup baby Arugula
- Basil Aioli
- Olive Tapenade
First prepare the Basil Oil for the Basil Aioli:
- Basil oil
- 1 bunch basil
- 1 cup grapeseed oil
- Blend both ingredients together. Place in a pot and cook over low heat for 1
- Then strain and save the oil.
Next prepare the Basil Aioli:
- 1/2 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup basil oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch salt.
- Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Then prepare the Olive Tapenade:
- 15 pitted niciose olives
- 10 pieces anchovies
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth
- Slice a tomato cross- wise about 1/4 of an inch thick. Dip half of tomato slices in flour, then egg and bread crumbs. Fry tomato slices in a neutral oil in deep skillet (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) for approximately 2 minutes until crispy (if you have a digital thermometer, the oil should be at 350 degrees). Pat dry and season with salt. Cut it in half and place on the plate.
- Cut remaining tomato into dice size pieces and place in mixing bowl.
- Add 2 teaspoons of the tapenade to tomato mixture and stir.
- Top fried tomato neatly with tomato and tapenade mixture.
- Place chopped bacon and arugula in same mixing bowl and stir.
- Place bacon and arugula mixture on top of pile of tomatoes.
- Place one tablespoon of basil aioli and spoon to the side of the salad for use as a dipping sauce.
Spina Restaurant is located at 175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009, United States