On today’s THE FOOD SEEN, Nick Balla, co-chef of Bar Tartine in San Francisco, used to call everything pickles. Raised in Michigan, land of sour cherries and asparagus, Nick was draw to strong and sour flavors, even eating lemons as a child. But it was his Hungarian heritage and it’s distinctly different European cuisine that became a central inspiration in Nick’s life. Budapest is set right in the middle of spice trading routes, has been populated by nomads, and it’s food gave a new meaning to “fusion”. Raw onions and paprika allured Nick’s palate, but then an unanticipated Japanese pantry crept in. This is when Nick began breaking the rules of how he approached cooking, taking a heavy interest in umami and fermentation (e.g. aged cheeses, koji, and bottarga). From working the buffets of Vegas, to opening the innovative Nombe, to breaking bread with Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery, these were all steps in realizing failure is just part of experimenting. Today’s program has been sponsored by Whole Foods Market.

“You have to understand the fundamentals, and you have to understand where things came from, and then you can break the rules.” [21:30]

Nick Balla on The Food Seen