Executive chef and owner of Commerce, Harold Moore has climbed the elite New York City restaurant ladder at a pace that indicates undeniable tenacity and an unyielding passion for the business of food. Moore abandoned his traditional liberal arts education in favor of the Culinary Institute of America, but not without a few sideways glances from his conventional parents. Still he persevered, knowing that there was something to this cooking thing that he needed to explore.
When it came time for Harold to secure his externship, he marched into the kitchen at Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar and Grill and was greeted by Portale himself, who had long since denounced the practice of hiring externs and told Harold as much. Desperate to find a position, Moore asked Portale for advice. That marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey through some of the most well-respected kitchens in New York City. “Go to Daniel,” Portale said.
Thus began a three year run of working in Daniel Boulud’s restaurant, working his way from unpaid extern to Entrementier to Sous-Chef. Moore was invigorated by the intensity of Boulud’s kitchen and he became, as so many professional chefs do, addicted to the pace and the demands of it. From Daniel, Harold went to work for Jean-Georges. After time at both Jean-Georges and as a sous chef at Mercer Kitchen, Moore returned for one last stint with Daniel Boulud before landing his first Executive Chef post at Montrachet. Following Montrachet, Moore went on to earn a Michelin star while working alongside Wayne Nish at March.
Moore’s approach to food is characterized by humility and respect for his patrons. He presents an accessible menu with no mysteries or obscurities. But that is not to say that complexity and technique are not evidenced in his cooking. He aspires to “cook what people want to eat.” When asked how he knows what that is, he offers a multi-tiered answer: “I think of my parents, who are straightforward and unpretentious. Then I think of everything I have learned from great chefs like Daniel. Then, of course, I think of the sophisticated New York audience.”
Moore also has a strong commitment to the value of apprenticeship. Having been well-mentored in his early years, he makes a point of sharing those lessons with those who work for him in his own kitchen. “I learned from Daniel, who learned from Roger Vergé, Georges Blanc and Michel Guérard, who learned from their mentors. I have a responsibility to that history and tradition.”