Interesting in 2011: Christian Noe

TOP2011 RD1 Troy christian noe

Christian Noe while judging the Troy bracket of this year's Tournament of Pizza. He was probably wondering what he'd gotten himself into.

All this week we'll be highlighting some of the interesting people we've gotten to know over the past year.

We got to meet Christian Noe from Nighthawk's Kitchen this year after inviting him to be a judge in the Troy bracket of the Tournament of Pizza. And we're glad we did. He was a great judge -- thoughtful, detail-oriented, and fun to hang out with it (always important in the TOP).

Christian started to make a name for himself on the local food scene when he won first place in the home-cooked category at this year's Mac 'n Cheese Bowl. Then he opened the Nighthawk's Kitchen stand at the Troy Farmers' Market, serving up some delicious -- and deliciously crazy -- comfort food. And then this fall he taught a series of popular cooking classes at the Arts Center.

So, Christian has had an interesting year. And it sounds like even bigger things could be ahead in 2012...

mac-n-cheese class Christian Noe and sister
Christian and his sister teaching a mac 'n cheese class at the Arts Center this past fall.

You didn't start out your career in food -- what's your career path been to this point?

I received a business degree from RPI, but I've been cooking my whole life. My first memories of cooking are making meatballs with my Grandma Rose as a little boy.

It was after I catered my sister's 10th wedding anniversary party for about 150 people that I started to think I could take my passion to the next level. The response was overwhelming and the positive feedback from that party was what really pushed me to start Nighthawk's Kitchen.

What is it that draws you to food and cooking?

I gain satisfaction from seeing people enjoy my food. Cooking brings people together, in good times and bad, food can be the constant that provides comfort.

Cooking and eating food is also a way to keep friends and family with you when they can't be there. Sometimes I'll cook something for the place it takes you, and not just to have something to eat. Cooking can be a very rewarding experience.

I want my customers to hear about a menu item, try it, and then have it exceed their expectations when they finally take a bite.

We remember you describing Nighthawk's Kitchen as something along the lines of comfort food made the right way. What is the right way? (We suspect it includes making your own hot dogs.)

I want my customers to hear about a menu item, try it, and then have it exceed their expectations when they finally take a bite.

I also think the right way is using as many local and fresh natural ingredients as possible. Many parents enjoy giving their children my Hawkdogs because I can tell them what ingredients are in them and how they were prepared... it makes a difference.

You know you are making comfort food the right way when people dream about your food. For example, I had one pregnant woman at the farmers' market order a Scary Gary because she had a pregnancy dream about the sandwich that week and needed one! That's comfort food done right.

christian noe hawktoberfest at Nighthawk's KitchenWe like the fact that you take some of these comfort food classics and put a creative spin on them -- like Buffalo Macaroni and Blue Cheese, or the Scary Gary. Where do those ideas come from? What inspires you?

I draw inspirations from places, food, and memories that please me. I like my dishes to be approachable but unique. The Buffalo Mac n Blue Cheese was an effort to blend Mac n Cheese with another comfort food -- Buffalo wings -- but then the Scary Gary was inspired from a rather late night in a friend's garage talking about cooking.

Also the creative aspect of cooking is inspiring. I love making crazy breakfast sandwiches and then seeing my customers take it even further. On our menu it says if you can think of it we can make it. One of our best customers likes to add a scoop of pulled pork to her Scary Gary... to me that's inspiring!

If you could pick your last meal, what would it be?

I would start with a peanut butter and banana sandwich on Wonder bread, then two of my grandmother's meatballs and sauce, for the salad course I would have Hattie's fried chicken, for the entree it would be two eggs over easy with home fries, rye toast and corned beef hash cooked in a cast iron skillet over an open fire, finally for dessert I'd wash that all down with a Scary Gary!

What's next? What are your plans for 2012? (Maybe opening a permanent Nighthawk's Kitchen?)

Well... it would be nice not to lug a full kitchen in the back of my truck every Saturday morning. I'd also really like to allow my customers to enjoy my food whenever they want it.

If everything goes as planned in 2012, the Troy Farmers Market will not be the only place you can get your Scary Gary fix.

This interview was conducted via email and lightly edited.

Also interesting in 2011:
+ Sarah Gordon from FarmieMarket
+ Mike Guidice & Jen Pursley Guidice from Hounds on the Hudson and Albany chickens

Earlier on AOA:
+ Interesting in 2010
+ Interesting in 2009

Mac 'n cheese class photo: Sebastien Barre
Bowling ball photo courtesy of Christian Noe

Comments

I'm waiting patiently for him to open up a full time restaurant!

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past short week on AOA: + Daniel and the Best Dozen made a stop at the Schuyler Bakery.... (more)

Today's moment of winter

The Hudson River at Troy.... (more)

Downtown Albany, before and after

Check out these before-and-after aerial photos of Northeast cities posted by an academic institute at the University of Oklahoma. Albany is among the cities featured... (more)

"[A] federal prosecutor who doesn't give a f..."

Over at Buzzfeed Ben Smith has a quick profile/backgrounder on Preet Bharara, the US Attorney overseeing the investigation and prosecution of Sheldon Silver. It opens... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Hot chocolate? Check. Blankets? Check. Netflix? Check. Stuff to do for those of us who want to do more than huddle under blankets with hot... (more)

Recent Comments

[A]nother factor that allows some politicians to slide into corrupt practices is the overriding notion that if they hadn't chosen to become "public servants" that they'd be making mega bucks on the corporate world. Which maybe they would. But it seems to give them license (in their own minds) to exploit any ethical grey area to make up for that loss of income.

timesunionPLUS

...has 8 comments, most recently from Bob

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 3 comments, most recently from grandmastergus

Morning Blend for Jan 23

...has 1 comment, most recently from Sean

Advice for fixing old lath-and-plaster walls?

...has 9 comments, most recently from Shadi Khadivi

A quick scan of the feds' allegations against Sheldon Silver

...has 3 comments, most recently from ace