MEET THE SOUS CHEF
NICOLAI LIPSCOMB, CHEF DE CUISINE, FIFTH FLOOR
Nicolai Lipscomb first relocated to Boston from California to snag his first kitchen job. Then he called No. 9 Park chef-owner Barbara Lynch every Tuesday at 3 p.m. for three months, until she hired him.
Her reluctance to bring him aboard was understandable: Then only 21 years old, Lipscomb had gone to college to become an electrical engineer and had never worked in a professional kitchen. “The first couple of weeks were rough,” admits Lipscomb. “The chef would tell me to go to the walk-in for arugula, and I’d come back with parsley.”
Ten years later, Lipscomb is now chef de cuisine at Fifth Floor in San Francisco, a position he took after a year spent in some of the top kitchens in Spain, including Arzak and El Celler de Can Roca. For Sous Chef Series, Lipscomb took advantage of his sunny backyard, grilling a flatbread topped with hummus and homemade lamb sausage.
TRACK THIS CHEF
DAY IN THE LIFE
Outside the Kitchen
Fifth Floor is closed on Sundays and Mondays, allowing Lipscomb two consecutive days off. On Sundays, he goes to church; on Mondays, he rock-climbs with his friends.
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Lipscomb recommends rolling the flatbread dough on a well-floured surface, then dusting off any excess before you grill it, as the flour burns easily.
Some Like It Hot
To achieve a flatbread with a crunchy, blistered crust, Lipscomb grills it quickly over a hot bed of coals, covering the flatbread so that the toppings cook at the same rate as the dough.
½ cup chicken broth
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup tahini (sesame paste)
Juice of 2 lemons
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1⅓ cups semolina flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on the dough
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup roughly chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley and/or tarragon)
12 ounces lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons harissa powder
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1. Make the hummus: In a blender, purée the chicken broth, chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt, stopping the blender to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed. Use a rubber spatula to transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate.
2. Make the flatbread dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the semolina flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Add ½ cup water and the oil and whisk to combine; with the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture until well combined and the dough is well hydrated and pulls away from the sides. Set a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, turn the dough out onto it, wrap the dough and set aside for 30 minutes. Place a pizza stone in the oven (or on a grill) and heat the oven to 550° (or heat the grill to high).
3. Make the sausage: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the lamb, harissa, garlic, thyme, rosemary, olive oil and salt until finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
4. Generously flour a cutting board and turn the dough out onto it, then generously flour the top. Divide the dough in half and lightly shape each into a round. Roll a piece out into a 10-inch circle that is approximately ¼ to ⅛ inch thick, adding more flour as needed (the dough is sticky). Transfer the dough to the back of a semolina-dusted baking sheet or semolina-dusted pizza peel and place it on the hot pizza stone.
5. Cook the dough until there are small brown spots about the size of a dime on the bottom of the dough, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, pour a tablespoon or two of oil into a small bowl. Place the hummus on the counter. Open the oven door and brush the top side of the flatbread with some of the olive oil. Use a metal spatula to flip the dough over, then spread the top with some hummus. Add a few tablespoon-size knobs of lamb sausage and continue to cook until the lamb is cooked through and the edges of the dough are crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the feta and the chopped fresh herbs. Slice and serve hot. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and toppings.