By Alana Samoles
The belief at County, a New American restaurant in New York City, is to “be different, with something always surprising”— at least according to executive chef Jon Feshan. And after taking a glance at the County menu, it’s clear that Chef Jon is not just full of philosophical phrases, but that he actually realizes this idea through his food. One example is his house made ricotta, unexpectedly garnished with mint, chili, and honey.
Though, creating unique and “surprising” dishes comes easily to Chef Jon since, from a young age, he learned how to seamlessly blend together different cultural cuisines and preferences.
“I grew up in a big family. So almost every day there was a 40-person gathering with everyone cooking different foods and tastes,” says Jon.
Some of these “tastes” included: Persian, French, and Cuban. And while the stress of a daily meal on such a grand a scale would send most people into heart palpitations, Feshan’s father owned one of Tehran’s largest catering halls, meaning: his family is adept at feeding hungry masses.
It was actually at this catering hall when Feshan, at only 11 years old, knew he wanted to be a chef.
“The first time I walked in and saw the chefs working, with their tall hats, I was so impressed that I couldn’t even speak,” he explains. This sense of curiosity and awe for the practice of cooking food hasn’t left him over the years. If anything, it has made him the perfect match for County Restaurant since their “farm-to-table” style requires an expansively creative leader at the helm who can transform their menu season by season.
While local, fresh ingredients in New York might seem restrictive, Feshan never sees it this way. Instead he says, “You don’t have so many options, but you have so many varieties. Like pumpkin gives you ten different types.” The idea of keeping things local is also in step with the training Chef Feshan got from Jean Georges Vongerichten, who taught him that “You don’t have to make it complicated. Let the food be simple and clean.”
But while Feshan is one major component of County’s simple, different, and surprising mantra, head bartender Matthew Linzmeier is the other. Matthew, who has had years of experience in the industry starting out in California and working his way to bars like the famous Milk & Honey in New York City before landing at County, says he, “wants to see the bar compliment what the Chef is up to and live up to the same high standards.”
Of this program, Matthew says, “I had a vision for a program that best suited County’s sensibilities, emulating and attempting to improve upon approaches I’ve seen in bars prior.” What this means is that, at County, Matthew has been able to unroll a new approach to cocktail making where the focus is less on strict adherence to “base spirits” and more on the drinker’s preference. For instance, his new drink, called the Schlitzie, which is Serrano pepper infused Amontillado Sherry, pomegranate syrup, lemon, can be made with Tequila, Rye, or Scotch. So people will no longer have to avoid an otherwise-amazing looking cocktail just because Tequila reminds them of the time they laid on the Penn Station bathroom floor—before it was redone.
Aside from thoughtfully synergizing flavors that can work with a variety of liquors, Matthew also gave each drink a unique and storied name. One of these is the “Mooken’s Slip,” which he explains is after, “Charlene Mooken, a cow in Cincinnati, that escaped on the slaughter day. She was on the run for nearly two weeks before being recaptured. In the meantime she became a local hero and was pardoned from slaughter and lived out to an old age.” Other drink names include the Templeton, after the rat in Charlotte’s Web, and the Tickler, after a rollercoaster in Coney Island.
Ultimately, Matthew says his mission is “to create a meaningful career in the cocktail scene without compromising my love of getting my boots dirty in jungles, mountains, deserts, and beaches.” And County, where Chef Jon feshan is already shaping the unique farm-fresh menu, seems to be the best place for Matthew to realize this aspiration.
Together, Matthew’s adventurous nature perfectly compliments Chef Jon Feshan’s open-minded eagerness—exactly the way a good meal and drink should pair.
34 E 20th Street
New York, NY 10003