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Bill Glover's Lobster Gnocci (Credit: Chris Casella)

At-Home Chef: Gallerie Bar & Bistro

Lobster Gnocci from within the walls of downtown's new diamond-studded hotel

By Kimberly Stolz

Published March 1, 2013

“That’s a lot of bugs,” said the salt-water brined Maine voice in response to Chef Bill Glover’s lobster order.

“I was, like, I’m sorry?” laughed the chef. “But that’s what they call ’em up there.” From plebian grub to luxurious repast, the lobster has clawed its way up the culinary food chain. Prehistoric and dangerous looking, they are often purchased with thick bands around its mighty claws, wrangling the lobster rewards the diner with meat awash in its own succulent stew.

“You know, the bands on the lobster claws are there to protect the lobsters from each other, not to protect you,” explained Glover, picking up a lobster and admiring its insect-like figure. Lobsters at the Gallerie Bar & Bistro are flown in from Maine, where the cold water and salinity foster crustaceans with meat that fills the shell. “With my ingredients, I try to stay in the United States to exemplify the bounty of the U.S. – here in Ohio, it is also bountiful. There are so many farms within 100 miles.”

When purchasing a lobster, Chef says to look for the active ones, with a bright blue hue around the joints. When the fishmonger pulls it out of the water, you want the legs to be really moving, he added, the minute they die, there’s a danger of toxicity from an ammonia spike in the entrails.

“Sometimes the home cook is intimidated by buying whole lobsters because they’re a lot of work,” he said, shaking his head. “I think in this day and age, it’s unfortunate what people think is a lot of work, I mean, things take time, you have to cook it, it has to simmer, you gotta do these things.”

Acknowledging the problems that some have with plunging a live lobster into boiling water, Chef shrugs his shoulders, “It’s really very quick … I’m not in the business of ethics, if you want to eat, eat. You’re a responsible adult, it’s not up to me.” Perusing his mis en place, chef notes that adding the zest of lemon brightens the dish, without blowing it out with acid, while the portabellos are a lovely earthy foil for the lobster.

Choosing the perfect portabello means paying close attention to the meaty mushrooms. “You wanna look for undamaged caps, firm, and you can tell how long they’ve been cut by how woody the stem is – another thing, the little cracks on the cap signal dehydration, which you don’t want.”

While many restaurants dress up the lobster like it’s going to a plating prom, Glover prefers to pair the gleaming white meat with gnocchi – a comfort food dish, albeit a refined one. After all, lobster is just a bug.

Lobster Gnocchi Serves 4

2 1.25 pound live lobsters 2 bay leaves 1 tsp whole peppercorns 2 lbs. russet potatoes 11/4 – 1 1/2 lb. all-purpose flour 3 large egg yolks 2 1/2 tbsp salt 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped Zest of two lemons 1 tsp chili flakes 2 cups heavy cream 2 large portabella mushrooms, roasted and sliced into thin strips 2 tbsp olive oil Salt to taste

Lobster In a deep stockpot, combine two gallons water, four cups white wine, two halved lemons, bay leaves, peppercorns and a pinch of salt. Bring water mixture to a boil, place lobsters in the water and set a timer for 11 minutes. While the lobster is cooking, combine one gallon of cold water with four cups of ice in a large bowl. Once the lobsters are done cooking, place them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. After the lobsters have cooled, using a mallet or your knife, begin to remove the meat from its shell. Cut the meat into small pieces and place in the fridge.

Gnocchi Boil the potatoes until they are cooked through. Remove from the water and, while hot, scoop out the insides and push through a ricer. While still hot, form a well in the potatoes and begin to mix in the flour and eggs slowly until just combined. Be very careful not overwork your dough as this will make the gnocchi chewy and dense. The finished dough should be well incorporated and slightly sticky, add small amounts of flour if needed. Roll the dough into a ball an pull off a small amount. Roll this into a long “snake” and cut into one-inch pieces. Shape each piece by rolling it on the back of a fork to create the classic gnocchi shape. Poach the gnocchi in salted boiling water until it floats.

Portabella mushrooms Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stems and gently wipe the caps clean. Lightly oil a baking pan and use the remaining olive oil to rub on the caps. Salt and pepper the mushrooms and place gill side up in the baking pan. Roast for 10 minutes and then turn and roast for another 15. The mushrooms are done when they are tender and browned. Let sit for a few minutes before slicing.

To create the dish In a large sauté pan, begin by adding the cream, four cups cooked gnocchi, dill, lemon zest and chili flake. Bring this to a simmer and reduce the cream by about half. Next, add the cooked lobster meat to the pan along with the portabella and heat until warmed through. Lightly toss the pan to incorporate the ingredients. Garnish with a sprig of dill. Serve in a bowl with crusty bread.

Meet the Chef

When 15-year-old Bill Glover knocked on the back door of the local mom-and-pop diner, he had no idea if he would get a job, all he knew is that he was tired of tossing papers up and down the street.

“This guy named Dan, the owner, answered and I said can I work here? I’ve been around restaurants, my grandma’s a chef and I ran around her restaurant as a kid … and I got the job,” he smiled. “They let me do dishes on the weekend. About got fired a few times because I’d have a stack up to here and I couldn’t figure out why, I just didn’t get it and Dan’s wife would come around the corner and sigh and bail me out again … but those few bailouts were really training, I watched and realized the things she was doing to be more efficient.”

Glover continued, easing into his story, enthusiasm mixed with nostalgia, “I got to the point that I was very proficient doing dishes so I started asking, ‘Hey, can I cook? Hey, do you need anything done?’ Dan put his knife down and said, ‘Dice these tomatoes.’ I picked up the knife, grabbed a tomato and I cut my thumb. First time and I blew my thumb open, and I’m like, ‘Aww shit, why did I do that? Dan says, ‘Why didn’t you finish the tomatoes? and I’m, like, ‘Oh, I had some stuff.’ His wife made me take the bandage off and look at it. She said, ‘You need to go back to the dishes.’ Dan got shit, ‘Why are you letting a 15-year-old near a knife? His mom’s going to kill me!’”

“That was my first kitchen job. Ironically, when I opened Sage, this is 20 years later, Dan had bought a house that backed up to my parents’ yard and right before I opened Sage, he was over and he said, I can’t believe you are still doing this … I almost let you go. I’m sure I deserved it. He was just telling me how I was totally crazy for opening a restaurant and good luck. It was a really neat kind of moment for me – I’m standing in front of the guy that I knocked on his door all those years ago. That was a neat circle around. And five years later, now I am here at the Hilton. Pretty cool how the world works through itself.”

As Glover flips through the memory timeline in his brain, the ubër-clean, airplane hanger-like kitchen at the Hilton is awash with activity. White-clad workers walk pass, pineapples piled high on their carts, the sound of a whisk against stainless steel providing a soundtrack to the evening’s prep.

The silence contrasts the loud family meals of Glover’s youth. The tradition of family breaking bread together informs his love of providing delicious food for guests, as does his mother’s emphasis on respecting the ingredients. “There was always a strong focus on waste – ‘take what you want, but eat what you take’ was her mantra,” he explained. “Respect the food, respect the ingredients…I was taught that’s not just a carrot – somebody planted that seed, watered that seed, tendered that crop, picked it, washed it, packed it, drove it to you, and as a cook, you better knock it out of the park…you better make sure that that carrot gets the respect it deserves and be the carrot it needs to be.”

At both of his restaurants, Sage and Gallerie Bar & Bistro , Glover personally shakes the hands of the farmers and food providers when he can. “I mean, that’s awesome. It’s a relationship you form through work and support of each other – it’s a trust you build and it’s something that is infectious across the nation for good reason. A big part of this place is to really embody the farm to table thing and a big reason why I was brought into this project to start my second restaurant was the fact that I do bring that philosophy and it helps break down that hotel/restaurant stereotype. I really believe in our team to be able to do that, front to back.”

The creativity and the people Glover has met on his journey form the foundation of his love of cooking. “You can meet so many walks of life and the diversity that this business gives you is amazing and over the years, going from dishwasher to line cook to sous chef to executive chef, I’ve just realized all these people I’ve worked for, and with, have formed who I am – my style, the way I cook, the way I manage, are all somehow touched upon by every single person – I am a huge believer in the team ideal; chefs are the ones people write about, whether it’s good or bad so we own it both ways, but I always make sure that it’s referenced as a team thing – no chef would be successful without a good team.”

As the clock spins, the acolyte becomes the master and Glover takes pride in sliding into the role of mentor. “I really enjoy giving back and teaching people the craft and working ’em and kicking them out of the nest and saying go make me proud – that’s an important part of the cycle.” And it all starts with a knock on the back door.

Comments

Dan @ 03/06/2013 07:09 pm

I am the "Dan" Billy was talking about. I am very proud to have been a small part in Billy's terrific success story. Thank you Billy, you will see as you grow older the amazing heights reached by those you have helped along. Keep up the great work.

Bobbye Flecker @ 03/18/2013 12:33 am

The Pittsburgh Falconhurst neighbors of your Progar relatives have had fun following your chef career over the years. I enjoyed reading about how a "knock on a door" started you down the path into serving Columbus people your yummy dishes!!! Congrats on the new restaurant and Good Luck, Billy from Aunt Joanne's friend