Sarah Bode Clark is best known at Haven's Kitchen for three things: her pizza and tapas classes (she revamped how we teach pizza here), her photography skills, and her Kansas roots. Her love for cooking started when she was young, spending time in the kitchen with her mother. Despite graduating college with a degree in theatre, she found herself being swept away by New York’s food culture and all of the adventures that come with it. Sarah encourages those who are new to the kitchen to dive into the experience and know that it will become easier each time.
Tell us about how you got started cooking.
I remember spending a lot of time as a kid in the kitchen with my mom as she cooked dinner. Her love for cooking was inherited from my grandmother. Growing up, my mom always got excited whenever she'd come across an "exotic" new item at our small-town Kansas grocery store and would try to figure out how to use it at home. By helping her prepare our meals I was never afraid of the kitchen or of trying out new things.
When did you realize that working with food and being in the kitchen needed to be part of your daily life?
I graduated college with a degree in theatre and moved to New York with my husband. I was armed and ready with headshots and an actor's resume. I started waiting tables at a Sicilian restaurant downtown while I considered auditioning (I even went to a few). Yet not very long into my new life here, I realized I was spending far more time reading food blogs, exploring the city's restaurants and markets, and creating elaborate dinners with all of the new ingredients I had access to than I was on my acting career. I figured it was time to turn my focus to the thing that I was spending all of my time and energy on. I haven't looked back and have no regrets.
What do you enjoy most about cooking?
Cooking feels like therapy for me. I get into a zone in my kitchen and feel more at home there than anywhere else. Plus, I get so much pleasure in preparing a meal for the people I love. I enjoy teaching other people in the kitchen because I love giving them the tools to feed themselves. There are so many folks who are intimidated and claim to never cook for themselves, and I really want to help them understand that it isn't as scary or as hard as they think.
What kitchen appliance can you not live without? Pantry staple?
I can't imagine having a kitchen without my Dutch oven. I use it for soups and stews a lot, but I also braise meat, make beans, fry, bake, and sauté in there. My go-to pantry staple is butter. There's usually at least a bit of it in most meals I cook. And even if you are too tired to cook anything else, what's better than a slice of toast and butter?
What's the best lesson about cooking that you can share with beginner cooks?
Just get into the kitchen and practice. Ask questions and don't be afraid of not knowing something. Cooking is a learned skill and you can only get better by doing it and getting guidance from those around you. Think of something simple that you love, find a recipe for it, and give it a go. Give yourself more time than you think you may need to make it. Taste as you work. And when you sit down to eat the meal you have prepared, savor it. Take a bit of time to consider what you liked and didn't like about this version. Is there a way to make it better? If you aren't sure, then next time try a different recipe for the same dish. You'll slowly start to find your way and it will get easier with each go.
In a few words, how would you describe your food?
Simple, straight-forward, from the hip and heart.
What's your guilty pleasure food?
So many, but if I had to choose I'd say soup-can casseroles. You can take the girl out of Kansas....
Sarah will be teaching Simple, Seasonal Suppers: New England Clam Boil on Thursday, August 4 at 6:30pm.
Beth, Haven's Kitchen general manager, will be teaming up with our executive chef, David Mawhinney, to teach you how to craft a menu inspired by postmodern Jewish culture. The menu will include barbecue brisket, a riff on harosetch and a bitter herb salad. You'll learn about the composition of a seder plate and the symbolism behind the foods traditionally consumed on Passover.
Where did you learn to cook and what inspires you to get in the kitchen?
I think our mothers all influence us in so many ways—some more explicit than others. I think there is no question that my mothers cooking set a baseline standard for my cooking, but my years in the restaurant industry offered exposure and opportunity, and increased my comfort level tremendously. In other words, my mom taught me that onions are used in just about everything, but the restaurant industry advanced my knife skills and willingness to use onions creatively and unexpectedly.
What can non-Jewish students take away from cooking and participating in a Seder dinner?
Traditional Jewish cooking is just like any other ethnic cuisine—you learn about the culture, history and legacy through food and ritual. The Seder is an ancient tradition, and every small detail— and there are many—has a rich story. Part of questioning that story and its meanings speaks to the core of Jewishness, and is one of the most important elements of the culture I try to impart in my children. And it's fun to take traditional food and add your own riff!
What are your favorite ingredients? Do you have any pantry staples?
I think matzo meal is the most tried and true pantry staple, but that is just the modern replacement for flour. I prefer cooking things that are inherently kosher for Passover—vegetables, meats, meringues, eggs. It's a great lesson in discipline, actually. You cannot fall back on standard thickening agents and binders in your sauces and desserts. Any time you work within staunch limitations, it really tests your ability as a cook. Essentially, then, my Passover pantry staples are the same as my non-Passover pantry staples—salt, mustard, olive oil, herbs. With those items, anything can be delicious.
What are your favorite kitchen tools and resources?
I live by my food processor and blender. That way, you can take the aforementioned pantry staples, add them to anything, really, and make an amazing pesto, pate, or soup.
Join us this Friday, November 9 at 7PM for a fun and informative tutorial on hand-making authentic NEAPOLITAN PIZZAS!
Who doesn’t love a great slice of pizza? Piping hot, cheesy, and tangy, pizza is now counted among the likes of iconic American comfort foods, such as creamy macaroni and cheese, crisp fried chicken, and fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Although there are many different types of pizza, and everyone has their personal favorite, in recent years, Neapolitan-style pizza has become the go-to style of pizza for chefs and serious home cooks interested in traditional recipes, quality ingredients, and artisanal food products.
Softer, fluffier, and smaller than your typical New York City slice, Neapolitan pizzas must conform to strict guidelines in order to be considered Neapolitan. According to the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, Neapolitan pizzas must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 900°F for no more than 60 to 90 seconds. The dough has to be hand-kneaded instead of rolled with a pin or prepared by any mechanical means. And, the pizza must not exceed 35 centimeters in diameter or be more than a third of a centimeter thick at the center. The only two types of pizza that are considered true Neapolitans are the Marinara and Margherita pizzas. The Marinara is the oldest and has a topping of San Marzano tomatoes, oregano, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and usually fresh basil. The Margherita, is simply tomato sauce, Mozzarella di Bufala, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Come on down to Haven’s Kitchen this Friday, November 9 at 7PM for a night of Neapolitan pizza making! Chef David Mawhinney will guide you as you create your own artfully charred pizzas, experiment with seasonal toppings & side dishes, and taste rustic wines from Naples. Join the legions of NYC chefs and enthusiastic home cooks who have mastered this ancient, pizza-making art!
Register for classes by calling 212-929-7900 or emailing [email protected]
Join us this Friday, October 5 at 7PM for Haven’s Kitchen’s version of Oktoberfest where you’ll sample a variety of German beers and learn how to make your own sausage and pickled cabbage.
It may not be the largest party on the planet, but it will definitely be one of the most fun.
Call 212-929-7900 or contact [email protected] to register.
Every year, from mid-September to the first Sunday in October, upwards of six million people descend upon a giant field in Munich called the Theresienwiese to take part in the biggest party on the planet: Oktoberfest. Revelers from all over the world are greeted by traditional Bavarian music, lederhosen, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and enough beer to fill three Olympic swimming pools. Six Munich breweries – Spaten, Lownenbrau, Augustiner, Hofbrau, Paulaner, and Hacker-Pschorr – supply the beer for Oktoberfest, which is traditionally a strong, German lager called Marzen. Partygoers sit in giant beer halls and drink Marzen to their heart's content, as Bierleichen –people who have had too much to drink – stumble about the halls, providing entertainment to fellow guests.
Although this is the modern day manifestation of this Bavarian spectacle, Oktoberfest has gone through quite the transformation since its early days. Oktoberfest is the re-embodiment of a five-day, citywide party that took place in 1810 to mark the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Sax-Hildburghausen. The newlyweds enjoyed their nuptial party so much they decided to repeat it every year, thus starting the tradition of Oktoberfest.
In the decades following the marriage of the Bavarian royals, Oktoberfest gradually transformed into a more elaborate affair. Originally just a horse race, in 1811 an agricultural show was added to promote the local economy, and in 1819, the city fathers of Munich took over management and introduced carousels and carnival booths as entertainment. Towards the beginning of the twentieth century, beer stands were swapped for giant beer halls and the Marzen of the Big-Six breweries became the focal point of the festival. Nowadays, nearly 1 million gallons of beer, 500,000 chickens, and 400,000 sausages are consumed each year at Oktoberfest.
Please view our Policies & Procedures before registration. As they say in Germany, Prost!