“I have never been one to mask the flavor of food with a lot of different flavors,” says Kaplan. He pins three as the magic number, explaining that a dish should have no more than three distinctive flavor notes.
The chef also likes his food to have both softness and a crunch to it for balance. Kaplan, like Thyme’s John Kolar, is a fan of the French-born and -trained chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He mirrors the New York City maestro with his use of juices, extracts and oils to flavor his food.
As a young chef, Kaplan struggled to find his identity. He knew he wanted his food to be simple, and over time he began to apply the Vongerichten touch (which has been called “vibrant and spare”) to his dishes.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the tomato is one of Kaplan’s favorite ingredients. Out of season, he continues to use dried tomatoes, and even coaxes flavor out of winter varietals by roasting them.
“There is a brightness to my food,” says Kaplan. “I take a potato soup and add lemon to it. You will not notice the flavor of the lemon, but the soup will be different than you’ve ever had it before.”