The Prime Grill is the premier kosher restaurant in New York. In 2000, Joey Allaham, a Syrian Jewish immigrant born to a family of butchers, saw a gap in the marketplace for a kosher steakhouse that could rival the best steakhouses in New York City. Opening in midtown Manhattan, Joey took a gamble that really paid off. Hiring Chef David Kolotkin early, the two pioneers of upscale kosher cuisine brought kosher dining to a higher level. With the publication of their first cookbook, we can now try to recreate some of their most popular recipes at home. I probably need to get started on my dry-aging room…
The cookbook shares the personal stories of Joey and Chef David and what motivated them to create The Prime Grill. There are pictures of the staff, kitchen and dining areas of the original Prime Grill restaurant space. The Prime Grill moved to a new location just this year and I love the way this book pays homage to its recent past even as the restaurant team looks to its future.
Everyone at Joy of Kosher are big fans of Chef David Kolotkin and loved watching him compete with Chef Kami from Prime KO at our Holiday Chef Wars a few years ago. We were lucky to be able to grab a few minutes with Chef David musing about the new cookbook and his experience at The Prime Grill.
How would you describe your cooking philosophy?
To make kosher food taste non kosher. :)
How has your culinary style changed from working at a kosher restaurant?
I like to cook American food with local seasonal ingredients. I believe in using simple, high quality ingredients and making them taste great, the only thing that changed when I moved to a kosher restaurant was the mindset. I still had a goal to make the best steak, not the best kosher steak.
What do you find to be the greatest challenge?
I have been doing this so long I am numb to the challenges of kosher. The hardest part of my job is juggling the multiple location. It is also challenging when we have events on Shabbat where everything has to be prepared ahead of time and don't get me started on opening up after Shabbat. We have to choose dishes that will sit well or can be prepared and cooked quickly.
Are all the recipes in the book available at the restaurant?
We opened the new location with most of the recipes from the book. Some of them were on the menu before, but many are new or altered. I have a smoked salmon fritter recipe in the book that I made at the old location, now I have a meat fryer so I have changed it to a beef bacon fritter.
When you are not behind the stove, what do you like to eat?
I love junk. I love pizza and Chinese food. I don't like fancy stuff, I think all this fusion food has just led to confusion. I like to know what I am eating.
What is your earliest memory of cooking?
In the book I talked about how I was churning my own ice cream in the garage when I was 12, but even before that I used to go to my friends house to bake cookies. My mom was a health nut and she never bought us things like that, so we would just make them.
When I was in 7th grade I switched schools and was able to choose classes, so I picked Home Ec, figured I would meet some nice girls and get to cook. I ended up getting sick for a couple of weeks and when I returned they were sewing, switched to word working after that. However, I did get to make one Chinese chicken dish that taught me about marinading. Like so many great finds in cooking it happened by accident. I prepared the dish with all the sauce and just before I was going to cook it, the bell rang, so I put it in the fridge and came back to cook it the next day. It was so good that I went home and tried making it for my Father, but it wasn't quite the same. Only then did I realize that letting it sit overnight made all the difference.
Here are a few recipes from the book as a preview: