“My change of career came when I’d realized that I was doing the same thing day in and day out, crunching numbers as an accountant,” says Paul Joseph, the 41-year old Haitian chef. “One day, I took a part time job at a very unusual place for a future chef to start a career in culinary arts. From that moment, my first cooking job, I knew there was no turning back for me. I became fascinated with my work as a cook and my culinary environment. “This is it, this right here: cooking makes me very happy, filled me with joy by doing what I’m doing” I recall telling myself. There, the adventure/passion/love affair begins.”
Joseph, as he explains, stresses making food from scratch – a rarity in our age of high fructose corn syrup-preserved ingredients. “I aim for simplicity with elegance while always using what’s fresh and local, incorporating only organic grown produce, free range meats and sustainable ingredients. I put a lot of respect and understanding in each ingredient making sure the dish is balanced and support each other intrinsic flavor. My preparation starts with an organized kitchen that includes a well structure culinary staff, daily meeting with my Sous Chefs, and checking with vendors and farmers for product availability.”
When visiting, you should try dishes like Herring under a Fur Coat, Lobster Versasia, Armenian Lamb Rack & Filet Duo, Fennel Dusted Muscovy Duck Breast with Honey Vodka Fondue, Day Boat Scallops with Orange Scented Vanilla Jus or the classic staple, Chicken Kiev!
“My method of preparation is Classical French. The steps and procedures always bring the best out of every dish, yet I will never use most of the ingredients as they used in the past. Nowadays, everything has to be lighter and healthier. FireBird is best known for its décor, collectable arts, rare Russian books, and mostly for being named after the famous Russian Ballet by the late Baroness Irina von der Launitz. My cooking is an art. My art at FireBird is not just for the food to look pretty on the plate, but to create a symphony of flavors in the mouth to enhance our guests’ overall Russian dining experience,” he writes.
“Our cuisine is best described as Russia without borders. The menu is designed to influence every surrounding corners of the old Soviet (which is now Russia). I focus on the well-known regions like Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and the Baltics, and occasionally, I will add a not-well familiar region to the mix. Every dish is composed to surpass our guests’ expectations, while remaining authentic and true to the region and the dish itself.”
Although he serves up fine meat entrees, Joseph does not eat meat himself. “I’m a vegetarian. Most of my dishes (pork & shellfish), I’d never tasted. Yet, thru my research and continued studies, I fully understand the full aspect and essence of any ingredient of which I intend to use; whether it’s variation of spices and herbs, meat, fish and game animals. I cook with the aspiration of guest satisfaction, not personal preference.”
Firebird is located in NYC on 365 West 46th Street. As a restaurant that will delight both picky NYC locals and tourists alike, you can study the menu before you go at FireBirdRestaurant.com.