At Ribelle in Brookline, the chefs are working hard and fast in the open kitchen. They blast kale over high heat until it begins to burn; they festoon arrangements of raw lamb with sunflower sprouts, a carnivore’s fever dream of a salad. Perched on their heads: the kind of hat favored by short-order cooks, paper with red stripes. One man, chef-owner Tim Maslow, inspects a dish made by another. He frowns, then asks: “Are you going to make this right? Or am I going to have to 86 it?” The other guy looks shaken, but his answer is clear from the expression on his face. He is going to make it right.
The scene sums up Ribelle. The hats are a joke, the anti-toque. They say: We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are making food here, just like they do in any greasy spoon. The cooking, though, is for real, intensely creative yet carefully calibrated. It says: We take this very seriously indeed.