Interview with Chef Jason Bond, Bondir Cambridge
Bondir Cambridge is a cozy, farmhouse-style restaurant with 28 seats and a small fireplace salon. The menus showcase the pastoral and marine bounty of our New England region and offer a finely curated selection of American and European wines and beers. Chef Jason Bond has spent 20 years in restaurants refining his technique and style, and has developed a simple philosophy of quality and care.
Their offerings–vegetables picked the same day, fish hours out of the ocean, pasture-raised meats–change daily, and are always tasteful in preparation and presentation. As you can imagine, we were thrilled to interview Chef Jason Bond about his restaurant.
It’s exciting to hear that you have your own farm. Can you tell us about it and how the ingredients are used at Bondir?
Towards the goal of being able to hand select the ingredients we serve on any given night, we started Bondir Gardens four years ago. We are working with an experienced farmer on her certified organic land. She gives us access to goats, ducks, and laying hens, all of which roam free on the land, as well as the culinary garden, which grows a mix of vegetables, herbs, greens and flowers.
My goal is to come as close as possible to my idea of the ideal meal which, at its most basic is, Grandma goes out and cuts asparagus along the fence line and cooks it for me for dinner. That’s it. But the care she took in selecting the best asparagus and the care she took in cooking it and making it just right for people she cares about – that is the goal for us. On the farm I can pick exactly what I want to serve that night, or see what will be perfect tomorrow and plan for it, or see something unexpected and be inspired to use it in an unexpected way.
Do you work with other local food suppliers?
We work with a large number of food suppliers who are farmers, fishermen, foragers, ranchers, artisans, and general purveyors. 90% of the food we serve comes directly from the person who produced it. I want to know everything about an ingredient before I serve it. So, the best suppliers we use are the ones we have been working with for years and growing together, changing together, with a give and take of any long term relationship. We are also making new contacts all the time.
This week, I am getting the first delivery of a very rare sheep, the Herdwick, of which there are only about 50 breeding stock in the United States, but famous for its rich dense meat, and I am getting my first delivery of Einkorn grain from a heritage grain nursery in Western MA. If we work to develop the relationship, we’ll end up supporting someone who is doing good thing and also be able to offer our guests an better experience.
Do you have a favorite dish at the restaurant?
I am proud of the all dishes we serve as long as we know we gave our strongest effort to let the ingredient show. This year has been a fabulous truffle year, and even though they are still a ridiculous expense, I’ve bought pounds because they’ve been so good. The truffles have aroma that I have not experienced in over a decade, and it has been a thrill to have these sensory memories comeback so strongly, memories that you start to wonder if you had invented them.
I’m really happy with the chocolate-orange gelato. It sounds very simple, but it takes days to make and I think the flavor reflects that. It starts with a marmalade of several citrus, blood orange, lemon, rangpur lime, tangerine, to give a balance of sweet-sour- bitter.
Are there any influential cookbooks that you’ve held onto over the years?
I was changed by Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, and while there are no recipes, just the reminder to always be thinking is important to me. George Blanc’s Cuisine Naturelle is a call to me to always reflect on place. Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking reminds me to always focus first on the basics – flavor, technique, ingredients- those must be solid first before you can successfully build or improvise. Those are three of hundreds that I revisit frequently.
In your opinion, what are the qualities that make a great chef?
The qualities that make a great chef are up to each chef to decide for themselves. We each have different goals and affect our communities in different ways. For me, I am trying to capture several goals; to reflect the thousand years of cooking history and tradition that we are building our cuisine upon, to create a new history and tradition that tells the story of all of us now, to be able to end each day with the knowledge that I did my best to increase human happiness. Regardless of the chef’s goals, a great chef needs to love what they do, love taking care of others, or they will not be able to give a true effort.