Today I’m speaking with Claudia Fleming, a James Beard award winning pastry chef and former owner of the North Fork Inn, here on Long Island. Claudia has had an illustrious career, working at the famed Tribeca Grill and Grammercy Tavern.
Claudia is now famous among pastry chefs and home cooks for her iconic, out-of-print cookbook called, The Last Course. In this episode of the Big Food Talk we discuss her passion for food, struggles and achievements as well as what’s in store for the future.
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from tribeca grill to grammercy Tavern
Claudia talks about how the staff at Tribeca was obsessed with cooking for people. If a friend or colleague came into the restaurant, the kitchen would kick into overdrive just to please that guest.
The dance or orchestration happens through practice. One can assume the longer a kitchen staff works together as a unit, the more they can feel each others rhythm and pacing to deliver meal service at a high level. Claudia learned early on in her career to be able to rely on other people to help get the job done even if it was competitive in the kitchen.
For Claudia, a key moment in her career is the time spent in France between Tribeca Grill and Grammercy Tavern. Times had changed when she landed at Grammercy Tavern. A kinder, gentler kitchen is how she describes it.
Looking back, Claudia is pretty clear she was in way over head at Grammercy Tavern. For the rest of the world, tasting her desserts and in awe of her skill, we wouldn’t be able to tell. It was her relationships she established and her maturity that helped pushed her career along. Claudia clearly had a great work ethic as she reveals as well.
The Last Course
The cookbook The Last Course was a culmination of her careers work and represented her repertoire at Grammercy Tavern. Claudia never thought about making a cookbook before but they had a large literary clientele, where one thing led to another and next thing you know she’s a published author.
The timing of the release after the events on September 11th didn’t give her much time to do publicity. Over the years it gained traction with other pastry chefs and because it went out of print, it became highly sought after.
Now married and looking for a different lifestyle with her husband, Claudia and her husband decided to open The North Fork Inn. It was a simple concept. No fancy hooks, just great food and service and it worked. Sourcing local ingredients and cooking with passion always makes good sense.
Want to find out which dessert Claudia loves the most? You’ll have to download and listen to the full episode to hear the rest of our discussion.