by JANA EISENBERG
JILL GEDRA FORSTER, OWNER AND MASTERMIND of Lait Cru
(“raw milk”) Brasserie and Nickel City Cheese, which operate side by
side on Buffalo’s west side, says that her goal is to retire to France. Her
restaurant is her “little taste of France” until then. Gedra Forster, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, and her head chef, Will Peterson, an alum of Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, are steadily committed
to offering “elegant yet inviting dishes and impeccable hospitality for
breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
WP: The chicken is very simple—
there are only three things on the plate:
chicken, lentils, and sauce. There are
some pickled vegetables in the lentils.
It all has to be perfect; no one wants
a plate of mush or dry chicken. If the
skin isn’t crispy, it defeats the purpose.
The sauce is rich; we mix the pan juices with white wine and finish it with
butter. The pickled vegetables cut a bit
of the fat, and add a little acidity and
crispness. Guests tell us they love it; it
will remain a staple of our menu.
Jana Eisenberg writes frequently for
Jill Gedra Forster
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO CREATE/WORK IN
A RESTAURANT WITH THIS FOCUS?
Jill Gedra Forster: French bistro
food is my favorite cuisine—the flavors
are simple and also complex. One of
my mentors was from Brittany, and I
learned a lot from him.
Will Peterson: French food is the
base for most cooking styles. It’s versatile; you can take something very
French and change it a little bit. True,
French food can be very hard. We aim
to make it more approachable.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY IN THE
JGF: Our mantra is good, high-quality food, cooked properly, in a beautiful setting, with amazing service. The
food is approachable; it’s not molecular gastronomy. It’s eggs cooked properly, hash cooked properly, high-quality
WP: The base philosophy is kind of
“don’t mess up the food too much”—
make it right and good the first time.
The cooks and I try to make everything
as close to perfect as it can be, like no
browned edges on eggs—just a good
delicious egg. Certain dishes take more
time, like lentils. It’s a labor of love to
make them not be mushy.
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS APPROACH IS
JGF: It is mainly food that you can
cook at home, but, when you order it
out, it’s fantastic to get it so well prepared. It’s casual but still elegant.
For example, our cast-iron pan roasted chicken comes with lentils du Puy
[Note: a type of French lentils prized
for their firmness and flavor], and pan
jus. It’s so comforting: buttery, creamy,
moist, with crispy skin. And the lentils