It’s early on a foggy Wednesday morning and Sydney Taylor is cleaving serenely into a bunch of broccoli. She brings down her weathered chef’s knife, it’s handle smooth from use, and the dark green florets fall scattered on her cutting board. It seems like she could do this in her sleep, her body angled toward me, a distraction to her weekday routine, and her hands work as if unattached to the rest of her body. Looking at Sydney now, you’d never guess she is the sole captain of this busy ship. Her face is bright, young, with smiling eyes. She laughs easily. One minute she’s drizzling olive oil all over a bowl of torn kale leaves, the next minute she’s making Gilmore Girls references (she’s Team Logan, but let’s forgive her for that). Sydney’s spirit is like her menu - seemingly straightforward, full of joyful surprises.
It wasn’t long ago that Sydney was living and working in prep kitchens in New York City. After receiving her Culinary Arts associates and a bachelors in Food Studies from CIA, Sydney moved to the city. She liked the energy there, the friction. She worked at small scale catering companies, learning versatility and resourcefulness along the way. “It’s hard to be a fancy restaurant offsite,” she explains, “that’s not how food works - you can’t just like make steaks to order in that situation.” She tells me that making things like grain salads and slow poached fish still created an elevated dining experience without trying too hard to be traditional fine dining. “Utilizing different methods that work for you, not against you.” Sydney takes that advantage learned from catering and applies it to her new work here at Methodical.
While we talk, Sydney hands me a piece of a Kale Feta Galette - one of our menu items I had yet to try. I was pretty sure I knew what it would taste like - feta and kale is a modern classic, a good combo of hearty and salty. I took a bite, and my expectation was met and exceeded. There was the olive oil roasted kale, there was the feta - rich cooked greens with a tangy, salt cheese flavor. And what’s more? There were dried red chiles delivering sweet heat, there was creamy garlic tahini infusing the whole thing with an unexpected mellow depth. It was surprising, and stretched my idea of what feta and kale could be. This is Sydney, and Sydney’s approach to food, in a bite - you know it’s gonna be good, but you just don’t know how good until you try it.
As she finishes prepping sheet pans of kale and broccoli for the oven, Sydney dips into the fridge below her and comes up with a plastic tub of golden yellow puree - Kobacha squash, for her Squash and Thyme Scones. She measures it out into a bowl, the beginnings of what will be a moist, flavorful, herbed dough. Watching her work gleefully in her beat up Smiths t-shirt, I marvel at her energy. It’s only 9 AM, and I know she is at the helm of hours of food prep - Rose and Almond Olive Oil muffins, Broccoli Sandwiches, and The Quiche. Oh god, The Quiche. Sydney’s menu for Methodical is clever in its simplicity. Straightforward offerings, full of joyful surprises. I leave her to her kneading on this foggy Wednesday morning, knowing by this time tomorrow I’ll be enjoying one of those scones with my coffee.
Written by Angie Thompson