Chef Justin Olsen of Bink's Midtown on the Meaning of Farm-to-Table and the Surprising Story of How He Ended Up at Binkley's
Chef Justin Olsen of Bink's Midtown Photos by David Zickl
Chef de cuisine
This is part one of our interview with chef Justin Olsen of Bink's Midtown. Today, he dishes on how he went from fixing cars to the culinary arts and how he ended up working at Binkley's four years ago. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the second part of the interview, when we find out about his experience working closely with the father of the small-plates trend in the United States, chef Jose Andres.
You might not know him by name -- yet -- but chef Justin Olsen has spent years working with some of the state's and country's best and best-known chefs. His journeys have taken him to the east coast and back and currently, he's heading up James Beard Award finalist Kevin Binkley's newest venture, Bink's Midtown.
Bink's cherry tomatoes David Zickl
The restaurant, which opened in spring, isn't farm-to-table per se -- a fact that Olsen makes pretty clear if you ask. Farm-to-table, Olsen might clarify, implies taking produce and making it shine through simplicity. On the contrary, what Bink's does best is wholly transform fresh, seasonal and, if at all possible, local produce into gastronomic art. The menu's vegetable and appetizer options far outnumber the usual meat-heavy stuff, which Olsen says is a concept he, Binkley and Binkley's wife, Amy, came up with based on their own dining preferences.
But the best part about this particular chef doing awesome artful things with vegetables is that underneath it all, he's a down-home Texas boy. That's right, as in the state known for barbecue, beef, and big everything.