Volume 79, Number 26 | December 2 - 8 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Chad Carns shopping on Bleecker St.

Chad, ‘The Gourmet Bachelor,’ is keeping it local

By Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke 

“This is Greenwich Village, and I am the Gourmet Bachelor, a local cookbook author,” replied Chad Carns when asked for directions by a visiting British couple.

Carns is indeed the author of “The Gourmet Bachelor,” a self-published cookbook designed to give the typical bachelor meal ideas to impress his date. The book features glossy recipes for dishes such as tuna ceviche on crisp plantains with a red pepper sauce, and Carns’s personal favorite, a “quick and easy” Korean barbeque.

“The bachelor has changed — sure he likes a burger and a beer, but he also likes a gourmet meal with a glass of wine,” said Carns. “The modern bachelor loves Thai and sushi. I wanted to bring the restaurant experience home in a quick and easy way. He works long hours. These recipes fit into his lifestyle.”

When Carns moved to Bleecker St. about six years ago, he began experimenting with cooking elaborate-looking, time-friendly meals as a way to impress his live-in girlfriend. Apparently it worked, because the couple has since gotten married and moved to Thompson St.

“Everything I need I can buy on Bleecker St.,” said Carns. “But they are basic ingredients, so the modern bachelor can get them in the local supermarket as well.

“A lot of times I will walk into The Lobster Place and ask them what is fresh,” he continued. “Then I might go into Aphrodisia and ask what herbs go with the fish I just bought, and then go to a wine shop and get them to recommend a pairing. In that way, I am just tremendously inspired by the global offering in my local markets on Bleecker St.” 

In addition to the cookbook, Carns also had 50,000 small fliers printed. The fliers feature different recipes, and local food merchants put them at the counter in a special display stand that Carns crafted so that he can insert a flier listing an upcoming event. The recipes tie into what the shop sells. For example, there is a recipe for grilled swordfish with saffron cherry tomatoes at Aphrodisia Herb Shoppe, on Bleecker St., because the saffron can be bought at the store. 

The cookbook retails for $34.50, and local merchants such as Aphrodisia sell it. They have sold “at least 25 copies,” according to Carns. He is waiting to hear if Book Book (formerly Biography Bookshop) will start carrying the cookbook. It’s also available on Amazon.com, and Carns often does demonstrations at events where he offers the book for sale. 

Carns also has a graphic-design and branding company. Using those skills, he was able to self-produce “The Gourmet Bachelor” cookbook. Carns also recently designed new menus for Caliente Cab Company, at Bleecker St. and Seventh Ave. South.

“Designing for myself is great because I don’t have to compromise,” he said. “It is 100 percent my own vision — I am the boss, the client and the brand.”

Although Carns has sent tapes of his cooking demos to the Food Network, he says he would be hesitant about giving up the control he has now. 

Carns wrote, photographed and designed the book himself.

“I would look at photographs of food in magazines, like Gourmet and Bon Appétit, for inspiration for the photo shoots,” said Carns. He attended classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in the evening and worked with three local chef consultants in order to refine his recipes. “What I learned,” he said, “is that in almost any recipe, the secret is to remove half of the ingredients.

“Cooking for the photo shoots is an entirely different process because taste doesn’t matter. It is all about how it looks,” he noted.

Carns tested every recipe in the book at least three times.

He is posting a recipe every Friday on Twitter.

“So far, I have put up 19 recipes,” he said. “My recipes are perfect for Twitter — I can fit an entire recipe and a wine pairing in 140 characters.” Carns was a guest chef at the Hearst and Condé Nast cafeterias, and through interest generated by those demonstrations, his recipes are now featured on the Marie Claire Web site. 

But, in the end, it all comes back to the neighborhood, for Carns.

“I couldn’t have done this project without the help of my neighborhood stores,” he said.

“Chad sure did a lot of work,” said one of the butchers at Ottomanelli. The staff of the Bleecker St. butcher shop is featured in a photograph in the cookbook, and Carns gave the shop an autographed, framed photo that sits next to other photographs of Ottomanelli over the years.

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