I don’t think I had ever tasted fennel until I worked in a restaurant. Growing up, most of the vegetables we ate came from a can, and when we did have fresh produce, fennel certainly wasn’t on the list. But during my time as a line cook, I was introduced to it and fell in love.
I remember preparing a fennel and black pepper compote — a divine mix of sliced fennel bulb poached in a sugar syrup and black pepper — to go with the restaurant’s cheese board offering. As any line cook worth their salt does, during my