Taking the Lead with Adam Greenberg


By Karen Cortés
This week, hearts and minds turn to Thanksgiving– and dreams of childhood recipes and family near and far. Barcelona Wine Bar executive chef Adam Greenberg is teaching home cooks how to prepare amazing Thanksgiving meals, while getting an insider look at how his staff, hailing from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala are spending a precious Thursday off from work.
“No matter where we’re from, at Thanksgiving we eat foods that make us feel at home,” says Greenberg, whose holiday cooking classes teach not just technique, but confidence. With common ingredients found across cultures, foods that traditionally find their way onto a family’s holiday table can be infused with Spanish flavor.
At his cooking class, Greenberg used chorizo in a traditional bread stuffing. And Barcelona’s butternut squash puree, usually prepared for an American Thanksgiving with autumn flavors of maple syrup, cinnamon or nutmeg, takes an entirely different taste when prepared with onion, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf and smoked paprika oil.
Most of Barcelona’s staff has local family, and the buzz in the kitchen this week has been about food, including sweet breads, boniato, and glazed plantains– not necessarily turkey. “One of my employees is doing a pig roast in a Caja China,” says Greenberg. “Everyone is looking forward to celebrating. We don’t get a lot of time off; it’s nice to spend it with family and friends.”
Greenberg has been cooking professionally since he was 18 years old, working at restaurants in New York City and attending culinary school before being recruited by Barcelona eight years ago. “I learned something everywhere I went,” says Greenberg.
To learn the art of Spanish cooking Barcelona sent him to Spain to experience the culture and cuisine. “They told me, ‘You won’t get it until you see it,’” says Greenberg. “It was very eye opening; it’s how I learned tapas.”
Even trained chefs go back to their own childhoods for inspiration for Thanksgiving dinner. Several years ago, Greenberg took over the preparation of the family’s thanksgiving meal from his father, but he always includes tastes he remembers– like the Pillsbury crescent rolls his stepmother used to make.
“Thanksgiving is about being with family and having a good time,” says Greenberg. “Maybe I’ll make a turkey paella for the restaurant!”