Passing the Apron at Aquinnah Shop
You won’t find beef tripe on the menu at the Aquinnah Shop Restaurant. It’s made from part of a cow’s stomach, which may be slightly less appealing to Island visitors than fresh seafood caught offshore. But Jacob Vanderhoop, head chef at the restaurant, knows how to cook tripe. He learned this and other exotic cooking techniques at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Cambridge this past winter. He recalled trying the dish. “It was,” he began and paused, “different.” Something between a grimace and a smile crossed his face before he added, “But you have to try it. You have to try everything if you’re a cook.”
Mr. Vanderhoop has been cooking at his family’s restaurant on the Gay Head cliffs since he was 12. Eleven years later, he stands behind the same stovetop, but with a professional knowledge of food and cooking.
“Culinary school can be like military school,” he said. Mr. Vanderhoop listed the components of a proper chef’s uniform like he was naming body parts. “And all of it has to be perfectly clean and pressed, or else you’ll hear about it.” Male culinary students must also shave every day.
Mr. Vanderhoop tugged at the neck of his black T-shirt and rubbed the hint of stubble on his chin. “This would not be okay.” But his lax uniform should not fool customers. Working at the Aquinnah Shop does not mean time to relax. “Cups break, plates fall, things spill. The kitchen is tiny and crowded,” he said. Orders pour in at a constant rate and the few kitchen workers race to keep up and put out the tasty food that everyone expects. Mr. Vanderhoop handles kitchen utensils and heaps of responsibilities, but shrugs off the workload. “We work with what we’ve got,” he said.