At the age of 26, having already amassed nearly a decade of experience on the line, Hara arrived in New York, claiming an executive chef position at the two-star Chez Josephine. Rounding out a career marked by a series of gifted tutors, Hara sharpened his skills alongside Rick Laakkonen (Ilo and River Café) before joining davidburke & donatella as Chef de Cuisine. Menu titles alone inspire a combination of hunger and curiosity: Appetizers include Sea Scallop “Benedict,” Foie Gras Terrine with Candied Kumquats and Fried Armagnac Grapes, and Crisp and Angry Lobster.—Sascha Brodsky
Any tips for entertaining at home?
EH: I think the key to entertaining at home is keeping the menu simple and prepping as much as you can ahead of time. The last thing guests want is a stressed out host. With organized prep, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your party.
Where is your favorite place to eat in the city?
EH: New York Noodletown in Chinatown is one of my favorite spots. It’s open until 4 a.m., perfect for chefs who are working until 2 a.m.
What do you cook for yourself at home?
EH: I’m a big barbecue enthusiast. When I cook at home, I’m usually making BBQ ribs, steak and chicken. I know this sounds boring, but my favorite seasoning is simply salt and pepper, especially if you’re working with high-quality meat. I also like Creole seasoning for a little kick.
Which ingredients should everyone have in the kitchen?
EH: Every kitchen needs garlic, extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinaigrette, which is good when used like salt to bring out flavors of different foods.
What makes a good meal?
EH: To me, a good meal is all about bold, balanced seasoning. I also think that good timing and great attentive service is what makes a night out memorable.
What is the best meal you’ve ever had? The worst?
EH: The best meal I’ve had in a while was at Café Grey. The worst, well I don’t think it’s fair to mention.
What is the most common misconception people have about eating out?
EH: I think that people are under the impression that food prepared in a restaurant is healthier for you than the food you cook at home. The truth is that in some cases, yes, a meal out can be healthy, but for the most part, fine dining dishes usually pack a lot of calories.
Hara’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Hearts of Palm & Pistachio Vinaigrette
3 mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced paper thin
2 fresh hearts of palm, sliced paper thin
2 tablespoons thin black truffle
¼ cup cucumber, sliced paper thin
2 tablespoons micro arugula
3 tablespoons pistachios, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup banylus vinegar
tablespoon shallots, minced
2 tablespoons pistachio oil
¼ cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend above ingredients.
Arrange thinly sliced tomato overlapping on round plate. Season with salt and top with cucumbers, hearts of palm and truffle. Scatter on top. Spoon on vinaigrette, extra virgin olive oil, micro arugula and chopped pistachios. Finish with a pinch of fleur de sel.