Free Form Culinary
Until 2005, Jay Haamen and Brendan McCall were two ambitious chefs toiling in the kitchens of greater Detroit. They were dedicated to their work but both equally frustrated with the lack of creative freedom present in the traditional kitchen.
Fate intervened in the form of a blind dinner invitation secretly orchestrated by their two pushy mothers. Susan and Diana conspired to get their sons into the same kitchen to cook a casual meal. A shared passion for great food and a level headed understanding of the business provided them with plenty of conversation. A friendship developed over dinner and the foundation for a future working partnership was laid.
A Knife’s Work was formed as an off-site catering and events venture. They broke away from traditional catering concepts and began a free form culinary experiment. All menus would be venue specific. No set recipes, no set menus, no repetitions. For the first time, the food they cooked publicly was a reflection of who they were personally. The public loved it!
In 2007, Jay and Brendan stepped into the Ann Arbor spotlight with the opening of Everyday Cook Lunch. Each day saw the creation of a new menu featuring a from scratch soup, four delicious entrées and an elegant dessert. Lunch grew at an amazing rate and customer response was overwhelming. Unfortunately, Everyday Cook closed its doors in June of 2008. Today, friends and fans of Everyday Cook can enjoy the same great food in a convenient new format.
A Knife’s Works is now offering unique monthly “Take-Home” menus based on the flavors of the season. Ingredients are brought in from local farmers and transformed into delicious meals. Time is taken to cook everything from scratch and to package it in compostable containers. It’s a fresh, convenient and delicious approach to smart eating.
Look for these delicious meals at Everyday Wines in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Market and Shops. Ask the staff to pair one of their affordable wines with any of the six delicious meals offered weekly.
A Knife’s Work…Great food, local people, fresh ideas.
Born in Detroit, Jay Haamen is a passionate and excitable chef who loves feeding others. His career began 2001 when he started the culinary arts program at Schoolcraft College. While in school, he worked at some of the top restaurants in Detroit to gain practical experience and to further his own identity as a chef. Upon graduation, Jay began working as a private chef where he cooked for professional athletes, famous musicians and well-known public figures. Currently, Jay is chef and partner of A Knife’s Work, an Ann Arbor based cooking collaborative with long-time chef friend Brendan McCall. Jay is a strong advocate for the use of seasonal ingredients from local farmers. His distinctive style of cooking uses simple ingredients and fresh flavors in a creative and unpretentious manner. Hot wings are his favorite junk food.
Brendan’s culinary education began at home with dishes born of his mother’s Italian American immigrant traditions. Food and hospitality were a family ritual, participated in by everyone and centered around the table. This early instruction provided Brendan not only with the basic mechanical skills of cooking, but also instilled in him a joy of feeding family and strangers alike.
Upon graduating from the University of Michigan, Brendan began working professionally in restaurants in Detroit and Ann Arbor. At one time or another he has held every possible position from dishwasher to executive chef. In 2007, Brendan recruited a team of like minded young chefs in order to develop a unique lunch program at Everyday Cook. With a focus on local and seasonal produce, Brendan and his fellow chefs collaborated to create a daily changing menu that redefined dinning in Ann Arbor.
Fluent in Spanish and with a hunger for travel, Brendan has had many extended stays in Spain and Argentina. There he ate traditional family meals and participated in customs celebrating food and confirming ones relationship to place. Brendan shares this experience through his food, choosing simple preparations that preserve and highlight the native qualities of ingredients.