What’s cooking this week at De Gustibus? How about the same thing you’re making at home? We know many of you enjoy dazzling your friends and family by nonchalantly whipping up one of the amazing recipes you’ve seen a featured chef demonstrate in class. Now we’re making the “nonchalant” part even more convincing, through our new partnership with Plated.
What’s Plated you ask? Well we like to think of them as a magic recipe (pun intended) for producing homemade gourmet dishes in 30 minutes or less. Here’s how it works: you choose the meals you want and order online, then Plated delivers a perfectly portioned set of ingredients directly to your door. It’s like waving a magic wand to create your own mis-en-place, but without the waste and without the wait. Each week Plated features a new set of chef-designed meals. And yes, that‘s where we come in…
Beginning next week, De Gustibus will partner with some of our featured chefs to bring you a series of simple, elegant recipes that you can preview yourselves in class, and then prepare at home later, with Plated standing in as your own personal sous-chef. We’re kicking the series off tonight with some enticing recipes created by GABE THOMPSON, executive chef and co-owner of new East Village hot spot L’Apicio, as well as a few of our perennial West Village favorites: dell’anima, L’Artusi and Anfora.
You can catch Gabe and his wife—talented executive pastry chef Katherine Thompson—demonstrating these and other recipes during their much-anticipated return to De Gustibus today, Monday, March 18th.
But even if you can’t make this evening's class, don’t despair: PLATED will offer Gabe’s recipes for home delivery during the week of April 8th, 2013. And, if you input the code DEGUSTIBUS when checking out, they’ll give you 10% off your entire order, just for mentioning our name.
Keep your eye on this space for a sneak preview of some of the specially designed recipes that De Gustibus and Plated will bring you this season. And in the meantime…
Today’s class at De Gustibus featured Chef Michael Laiskonis, the creative director at the Institute of Culinary Education. Chef Michael has an impressive resume, including a James Beard Award and executive pastry chef of Le Bernardin, which earned four stars in The New York Times and three Michelin stars. The class was a treat for someone like a sweet tooth like me, but we also learned a lot about various techniques and recipes to make fresh pasta, blini, crepes and tarts. I need to take this class again – I learned so much and I know there is still more for me to learn.
The first course served was a blini with smoked salmon, trout roe, crème fraiche and dill. A perfect first bite - it was so creamy and savory finished with a pop from the roe. It was delicious and a great way to start this meal!
Chef Michael started showing us how to make the tart for the second course, a bacon, mushroom, and duck confit tart with a red wine reduction. I was shocked how much butter he used – no wonder it was so good. A great tip regarding salted vs. unsalted butter – most people in the class assumed you should use unsalted butter because then you can control the seasoning of your dish, which is true, but another reason is because salt is a preservative, so unsalted butter is usually more fresh. The biggest lesson (and the reason behind the name of the class) was that Chef Michael really wants to rid the world of cup, tablespoon, teaspoon, etc. measurements – it’s much more accurate to use the metric system! And all of his recipes used the metric system so I guess I finally need to invest in that scale!
The tart dish was so delicious – it had truffle, bacon, duck and wine – practically all of my favorite things on one plate. The creamy parsnip foam and tart reduction really balanced the dish. This would be a great dish for entertaining – it can be served room temperature, the ingredients can be changed, and the presentation is adorable. So good – I literally licked my fork and knife clean.
The third course gave us a chance to learn about making fresh pasta with a pasta carbonara. I loved that Chef Michael made some mistakes like cracking the egg shell in the bowl – he was very humorous and showed us how to correct mistakes as we go along. And a great tip for removing the shell – use the shell to remove the shell – it won’t slide away the way it will when you use your fingers! The carbonara was basically pasta water, Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes – it looks so simple but had so much flavor. And homemade pasta really makes a difference – the flavor of the pasta was so fresh and it also holds the flavor of the sauce made it so much better than the boxed version.
The next course was a crepe of elderflower mouseline, roasted pears and pistachio. Again, Chef Michael was hilarious by pointing out that the first crepe will always be crap because you need to figure out the temperature to get it right. Isn’t that so true (even with pancakes, eggs, etc.)? Another tip of the night – always have pastry cream in your freezer – similar to the way you always have ice cream in your freezer. People in the room were commenting about the crepe being “heavenly”. The cream was dense, but gently sweet with “intense vanilla flavor” (quote from Sal).
The second dessert (of 3.5 desserts over the meal!) was the “Paris Brest” – the best way to describe this was a flaky cookie with a nutty cream topping. Again, this dessert was not overly sweet – it had a slightly savory taste with the pate a choux.
The final course and third dessert of the night was a warm chocolate tart – the signature dessert at Le Bernadin. The chocolate was warm and saucy – not as heavy as a typical molten cake. It was the perfect dessert to end a big meal, especially for chocolate lovers
And just when we thought we were done and on a nice sugar high, Chef Michael treated us to a canelé at the end of the meal. My friend, Virginia from Perfect Bite NYC literally freaked out when she saw the canelé – it’s literally one of her favorite foods so she made sure to meet Chef Michael to get some tips on how to make the perfect canelé at home!
It was great talking to Chef Michael after the class – he also writes a food blog and he gave me great tips both on cooking and writing. His tip for the home cook – run your apartment kitchen like a restaurant kitchen – stay organized (label your containers, plan ahead, multitask). And try to taste as you go along (even sometimes raw food – although he noted he has an iron stomach, so take that tip with a grain of salt).
Overall, I felt like I want to take this class again – as I mentioned before, I learned so much but know there was so much more to learn. Hopefully Chef Michael will back soon so I can take the class again!
Hiroko Shimbo and Chikara Sono
by Ishita Rapino
DeGustibus had a Japanese twist this week with the dynamic duo of Hiroko Shimbo (author of Hiroko’s American Kitchen) and Chikara Sono (Chef of Kyo Ya – New York Times 3-star restaurant). They offered a mini kaiseki menu that combined seasonal dishes from Kyo Ya and easily created Japanese small plates from Hiroko’s cookbook. Overall, I felt this class expanded my stomach and my brain – we learned so much about the history of Japanese cooking which has clearly been an influence on modern day cuisine.
Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese dinner of small plates served in a progression. Likely, this is the inspiration for modern Chef tasting menus. The number one rule of kaiseki is that order is the most important (the whole class knows this now since Chef Hiroko quizzed us on it later in the class – she truly has a wealth of knowledge and was a great teacher). My husband joined me for the class and kept telling me to take notes – I felt like I was back in grad school because there was so much to learn, but it paid off because I do feel like there is a lot of information that will be interesting for the blog (hope you readers feel so too)!
On to the menu – a 6-course treat (7 if you count the delicious sweet and savory nut mix we were given at the start of the class):
The first course was Sumiso glazed baby back ribs. We learned the art of using 3 items (not 4, which is a bad omen). I was surprised this would be the first course of the meal, but it was such a small portion that it was not overly heavy or rich.
The next course was a Sasamaki-zushi (sushi rice with cured salmon in a bamboo leaf). Literally, this was a present to each guest – it was a stunning presentation!
But like most presents that are beautifully wrapped, you eventually have a craving to just rip it open to get to the goodies inside!
The sushi was perfectly balanced – the rice had a great acidity from the rice vinegar and pickled ginger to match the smoky cured fish. The pickled radish on the side was shaped like a chrysanthemum flower to represent the fall/winter season. We were not sure if we should eat the radish, but with the hidden pepper inside, it added a nice crunch and heat to the sushi.
Random Fact: Chef Chikara Sono was a mechanic for Toyota in Japan and worked part-time in a sushi restaurant. Now he runs the kitchen of a 3-star restaurant in Manhattan. And he was such a cool guy – my husband commented that he wants to hang out with him and when I told Chef Chikara this, he loved it and invited him to hang out one day! Don’t you love stories like that?
Back to the food. Chef Chikara spent some time butchering the fish. If you read my blog from Chef Mike Price, you’ll know I’m a convert. This was really fascinating because we were eating the fish basically raw. A great tip for prepping fish – let fish sit with salt at room temperature in a plastic wrap for 30 minutes to get rid of the odor – it’s a critical step and most people in the room were not aware of this! Then rinse the fish with water to remove the salt, dry with a paper towel, and prepare according to your recipe.
The next course from Chef Chikara was a Miso Black Cod, which is a popular dish amongst many high-end Japanese restaurants. To quote the review in the NYTimes, “No matter how many times you’ve had this dish, the version here can still make you shake your head in amazement.” Looking back at my notes, I literally wrote “WOW WOW WOW” – what an explosion of flavor. The fish literally melted in your mouth. I really wanted more, but I think that’s the beauty of kaiseki – the portions are small enough that you really appreciate every morsel.
Chef Hiroko was back on the stage, preparing her next course of sake braised short ribs with winter vegetables. I’m so glad my husband was with me because he has missed the short ribs I’ve been indulging in without him. We were in for a treat with the amazing knowledge that Chef Hiroko imparted on us that really came together in the dish. Japanese cooking focuses on five elements which often drive the cooking techniques and colors in each dish: wood, fire, metal, water, and soil. The meat in this dish was so tender with a beautiful, sweet broth – I love sweet and savory dishes and this had a great balance. The kale provided a nice bitter crunch. The one thing that came up over and over again in each course was the attention to detail - the kale on this dish was stacked into a small square and the meat was precisely cut for eating with a chopstick. I literally drank the broth when I finished the dish (I kept it classy by using my spoon, which meant I couldn’t get the last few drops). I wasn’t alone though – everyone was commenting that the broth needs to be bottled and sold!
The last savory course was chorizo and shrimp rice – a Japanese twist on paella. This dish did come together as a fusion dish – it was lighter than most paella dishes, but still had the bold flavors of the chorizo, shrimp, and saffron. Surprisingly, it reminded me of a dish my mom always makes for me called kitchari, which is Indian comfort food.
The final course was Mineoka-Tofu with Strawberry sauce. A weird thing happened to me yesterday – I was day-dreaming and craving this dish all day, but I could not remember where I ate it. It was bothering me to the point that I had restless sleep and kept dreaming about the texture and flavors and I still could not remember where it came from, and I felt so sad about it. Then I started uploading my pictures today and saw the image, and I was so happy and relieved! That is how hauntingly good this dessert is. It tasted and had the texture of a marriage between tofu and cheesecake, but also like nothing I could describe. You could taste the sesame paste in each bite and the strawberry added a touch of sweet. I can’t give this dish the credit it deserves – please just go to Kyo Ya and try it, because it was amazing.
Overall, I was really impressed with how intricate, delicate, and bold each dish was. It was so fun to get to experience the various techniques of Japanese cooking and progression of a kaiseki. I was equally impressed with Chef Hiroko and Chef Chikara – I was shocked that neither had taught at DG and they had never worked together in this way. The class felt so seamless and the transitions between the chefs were so natural. When I interviewed them after the class, they were so fun with each other and played off each others’ answers and comments. Their advice for trying Japanese cooking in your own home seemed simple – you need basic Japanese staples in your kitchen, including miso, sake, mirin, and soy sauce. You can make stocks and sauces and use these to cook various dishes. Their advice to home chefs was to just be adventurous, use common sense, and enjoy the experience. It’s important not to think too hard and be willing to change and adapt. The most important thing was to add love to your dishes and it will always taste good – how sweet! I really enjoyed both of them and I know they both had a great time teaching the class!
One last thing I wanted to mention was that at the end of the night, I met a young man named Mike who also writes a great food blog (Foodie Finders NYC). I was so happy to see that we had a lot of the same insights and thoughts about the class. You can learn even more about Japanese kaiseki from reading Michael’s blog here.
by Ishita Rapino
Welcome to the kick-off event for De Gustibus’ fall semester of 2012! This is my first official food blogging post and what a way to start my culinary journey in writing and experiencing amazing food. For those of you who don’t know, De Gustibus is what I’m dubbing “New York foodie’s best kept secret”. Hidden in the depths of midtown’s Macys, this gem is so unexpected when making your way through men’s cologne and women’s designer ball gowns. After you’ve made your way to the 8th floor and find the private dining room with a custom high-end kitchen with all the bells and whistles, you’ll completely forget where you are and feel like you are “in-the-know” of a really cool secret. Customers sit classroom style, while celebrity chefs stand in the front cooking 5-6 course meals for the class with wine pairings, teaching tips and tricks, regaling patrons with their stories, all while the class enjoys the amazing chef’s creations at the same time. There is absolutely nothing like it in the city and you are truly in for a treat if you have a chance to snag one of these hot tickets.
The class kicked off as per tradition, with Sal (the current owner) and Arlene (the former owner) introducing the class to the evening’s event. These two are a true comedic duo – they opened the class and season with a very warm and hilarious welcome. The class was very “well-attended”, filling the room end-to-end with a crowd of foodies and Dan Kluger fans.
The semester kicked off with DG regular, Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen, who could not have been a better chef to start the year given his multitude of recent accolades, including James Beard Best New Chef (2x), Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, Time Out’s “Chef of the Year” amongst others have raved about Chef Dan’s farm-to-table concept and simple cuisine. His theme for the evening was “A Few of My Favorite Things”, which quickly became a lot of everyone’s favorite things. Dan really came across as warm and humble, and extremely relatable. During the night, Dan shared stories with the group about tricking his kids into eating new foods, the importance of herbs as an ingredient, doing his senior project on BBQ sauce, and a very touching story on Cookies for Kids Cancer.
The menu for the evening was a six-course treat
Most of these dishes are on the ABC Kitchen menu so luckily if you are reading this and salivating, you can head over there to experience these simple, yet complex dishes. I can’t begin to explain the experience of sitting and watching Chef Dan cook, while the aroma of his dishes fill the room, and when your senses are about to explode from desperate hunger, the well-organized and friendly staff of culinary students magically appear with this amazing food. Each of these dishes were really simple, made with easy to find ingredients with bold flavors combining heat, acid and salt with textural contrasts of crunchy and creamy. The second course of shaved raw summer squash with parmesan dressing was one of my favorites because it was so refreshing and I learned something new that I will be definitely using at home.
It’s avocado. It’s squash. It’s avocado squash!
I literally felt like I was doing my body a favor from eating the dish. I told myself at the beginning of the night not to finish each dish, but I felt like it just would not be right to leave anything on the plate. Sorry Weight Watchers!
I could go on and on about each course – every dish was so light and fresh, but exploding with flavor. It was almost a trick to my body because I could not help myself and ate everything and then realized that I was extremely full. It was worth it. Even Chef Melody’s dessert - zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting - sounded heavy, but the lime zest made this cake light and airy – I could have had two slices.
Although I do believe you could make a lot of these dishes at home, watching Chef Dan and Chef Melody was truly witnessing art come to life. It made me have such an appreciation for what these Chefs do each day and the love and care they put into thinking about each ingredient and crafting each dish.
At the end of the night, there was literally a line of people waiting to thank Chef Dan for a wonderful meal and take pictures with him. I realized that everyone felt so comfortable with him, like an old friend, because of he’s just so…normal. Throughout the night he gave easy tips and tricks (the guy really LOVES Oxo brand products) and was realistic about the constraints for home cooks (buy the dressing if you can’t make it). I asked him what the biggest mistake home cooks make and he gave great advice - it’s really important to read a recipe properly, prep and shop in advance for the ingredients so you can stay organized – that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time! If you are like me, and feel like chefs are celebrities, you would be happy to know that he really is a nice guy who worked hard and has a real appreciation for food and foodies like him. At the end of the day and after all of the awards, all Chef Dan wants is to do provide for his kids and spend more time with his family. Who can’t relate to that?
by Ishita Rapino
Quality Clam, Mike Price’s new venture, is opening next year on Hudson and Leroy. You heard it here first even before the NY Times posted the name of the restaurant!
Mike Price from Market Table gave us the opportunity to go back to his childhood in the Chesapeake Bay by enjoying a menu of delicious seafood dishes. Some of these dishes were honestly some of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten, and I have some experience with seafood from growing up in the bayous of Louisiana, where crawfish boil parties were all the rage.
Seriously Emmy – you are an artiste!
Although this was a seafood tasting, we started the evening with stuffed ham biscuit – it was so cute and a perfect bite of salty and buttery, with a hint of mustard.
On to the seafood – we enjoyed a trio of “stuffies”, first being the clam dip. If you read my Ted Allen blog, he gave me a tip about balancing an entertaining menu with dishes at room temperature, and this clam dip is on the list for my first party! This dish was a really elegant party dip, with huge chunks of clam and it was served with homemade potato chips.
This serving was supposed to be for two, but I basically ate the entire thing myself.
Next up were the other two “stuffies” – on the half shell and a baked clam. Sounds simple, but I cannot describe in words how surprising and delicious these clams were! My friend Diana joined me for this class and she was so excited about the clam on the half shell, since it was served with a Bloody Mary cocktail sauce, and the girl loves her brunch cocktails. This version was made with Sir Kensington’s ketchup, which is apparently all the rage. The dish had a nice heat with the crunch of the celery and the clams were very fresh. Even though Diana and I truly enjoyed the Bloody Mary clam, the baked clam had us going crazy. Wow! It had chopped chorizo and was so spicy and flavorful – I literally licked the clam clean. My in-laws are Italian and we always have baked clams for Christmas Eve, and I am going to make this for my father-in-law – he will love this recipe!
Hidden beneath that breadcrumb is a real blast of flavor!
Next up was the Oyster Stew, which was Mike’s grandmother’s recipe. He really gets inspiration from his whole family (many of whom were in the audience), who encouraged Mike to cook from an early age (starting at 5 years old). As I was writing this, the room started to smell like bacon, and I knew this was going to be good. And boy was it good – I would argue it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. As I told Chef Mike after the class, I eat soup almost every day so I have some experience in this area, and this was so creamy, with the salty and crunchy bits of bacon. The best part was the huge pieces of oyster that tasted like bursts of the ocean. Another plate licked clean.
Check out that whole oyster!
Next up was the Rockfish stuffed with Crab Imperial. Chef Mike showed everyone how to butcher the snapper and I didn’t think it would be that interesting since I personally do not ever plan to butcher a fish or meat, but it was truly fascinating. It was like watching a surgeon – the precision and care he took to take extract all of the meat and removing the bloodline was really mesmerizing. I’m sure it doesn’t sound appealing, but to know that the chef cares so much about those details – those are the restaurants I want to eat at. The dish was really flavorful, especially when you got a bite of the creamy crab with the acidic Imperial sauce. The broccoli side dish was also delicious (even his 3 and 4-year-olds eat it), and would go well with steak.
The final dish was a baked apple with sour cream gelato, which was the first dessert Chef Mike ever made. The dish was adorable – it had a great presentation and was delicious. The stuffing was nutty and just perfectly sweet, and paired really well with the tart and savory gelato.
Talking to Chef Mike at the end did feel like talking to a friend, which was kind of true since it turned out that we had some people in common in our lives. When he told me he actually loves Popeye’s, everything kind of just came together for me. Growing up in Louisiana and then moving to New Jersey, my family would drive hours to find a Popeye’s, so I can totally relate to a love of their fried chicken and rice and beans. The best tip I got from Chef Mike was making sure to get the pan hot when cooking, but even more helpful was to combine canola and olive oil when cooking so the oil doesn’t burn too quickly. Thanks Chef Mike for introducing me to your Oyster Stew – I will be seeing you at Market Table soon, and Quality Clam next year!
by Ishita Rapino
by Ishita Rapino
I have to start this post by saying that I LOVE Chef Justin – he is so cool.
This was the first time Chef Justin Smillie of Il Buco Alimentari E Vineria (same owners as Il Buco and right down the street), taught at De Gustibus. He seemed nervous in the beginning (he was!), but within 10 minutes, he fed off the excited crowd and really got into a groove. I can tell he will be a regular at DG, because there was such camaraderie between Chef Justin and the guests, it was like being at a really fun dinner party. And his initial nervous energy actually helped set the tone – it made him less intimidating as the “expert” and more like a really knowledgeable friend - this made everyone feel completely comfortable asking him any question that came to mind. And as everyone started asking questions, he started feeling more comfortable, and it made the night fun and relaxed. And how can you go wrong with a guy named Smillie?
Il Buco is known for their homemade salumi (they actually got in trouble years ago for making it in-house and decided to make the operation legit). The new location is a restaurant and store, selling high-end oils and vinegars, cured meats and many delectable Italian treats. Might be more fun than Eataly since you may see (and hear) Chef Justin in the kitchen.
If you knew me personally, you’d know this menu is right up my alley (particularly the Pappardelle):
I need to give a shout-out to Emmy here because she has started this new venture of painstakingly writing the menu and matching the Chef’s logo – I think it’s awesome and looks really cool. It also helps me not have to type out the menu!
The night started with an amuse of bruschetta with local grapes and mint, and Il Buco’s olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Now I understand the importance of good olive oil – you could taste the deep olive flavor, which paired really well with the sweet grapes and creamy ricotta.
Next up was the Panzanella of Heirloom Tomatoes, which included house-cured sardines and rustic croutons. Side note: Justin recommended using a mortar and pestle to grind ingredients (instead of a blender) to coax flavor and have a more sensual and interactive cooking experience. To my single friends – take note – invest in a mortar and pestle! I was really excited (read: nervous) to try this dish since I’ve actually never had sardines as a main component of a dish (I’ve only had it in a sauce or dressing). The sardines were really interesting and not fishy at all. They actually looked and felt like an orange fruit roll-up that was really salty. Overall, the dish was really flavorful with that fun crunchy and chewy texture when your bread soaks up a delicious sauce.
Seriously – would you think the orange strips were sardines?
As I mentioned earlier, I love Pappardelle, and this was made with Rabbit Sugo, which surprisingly didn’t seem too difficult to make, especially given the fancy name (particularly since you can substitute chicken legs for the rabbit). This dish was delicious, but I have to say that I was actually more excited about the fact that Chef Justin invited Austan, an adorable young lady who was there from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to come to the front and make the pasta with him. No offense Justin, but Austan kind of stole the show. She was really well-versed on food, and clearly was a foodie in the making (although arguably, she probably knows more and has experienced more than me based on the things she was saying). I got to chat with her and her family for a while, and I can’t tell you how adorable she is and I know she was so appreciative to Sal and Chef Justin for inviting her on stage to learn about making fresh pasta. The best part was that you could really see how patient Chef Justin is – he was so calm and collected while he taught Austan how to prep. No wonder his 5-year-old wants to be a chef like his daddy! Best tip of the night – pasta water should be salty like the sea. Wow, I knew the rule of salting your water since it’s the only time you get a chance to season your pasta, but I did not realize it was supposed to be that salty. Definitely something I’ll need to change asap.
At this point, I’m full. We still had a short ribs course and dessert, and I (again) went on my word of not finishing each dish. All I can say is that my husband would be very jealous that I was eating these short ribs because that is always his dish of choice when we go out for dinner, and this one was particularly delicious because of the addition of walnuts. The best way for me to sum up this dish is to quote one of the guests who literally moaned in delight, looked over at me with her empty plate and exclaimed “it’s just so good”. Exactly.
Last, but certainly not least, was the Crostada of Roasted Pears. First, I have to mention that Karen, the pastry chef, is delightful! She used to work in digital animation (major career change!) and compared it to dating a guy – it was ok, but not the one! Karen and Justin had a great rapport and it was fun to see them together. Ok, moving on from my girl crush, this dish was a perfect end to the meal. It was gently sweet, with thyme flavor throughout the warm and crispy crostada. It really was a great dessert for a group, particularly if some prefer salty and some prefer sweet at the end of a meal.
I did get a chance to catch up with Chef Justin at the end of the night and I think he had a really great time and he was someone I would totally be friends with. Sometimes when I meet chefs, I am so intimidated because I don’t speak the lingo or I’m worried that my love of my mom’s famous “dump cake” (canned peaches and pineapple, with boxed yellow cake and butter on top – trust me, it’s a crowd pleaser) is not always sophisticated enough. Well, Chef Justin’s high consumption levels of Coca-Cola (sorry if this was “off the record”) and love of chili con queso just goes to show you can love the high-end and low brow. This was a great night and I look forward to going to Il Buco to hang with my new friend Justin soon!
This De Gustibus event featured Spanish food from the Chefs of CASA MONO and BAR JAMÓN in New York City along with wines from Bodegas RODA in Spain. There was a full wine tasting from the classic wine-producing region of Rioja. Gonzalo Lainez is RODA’s oenologist and exporter. He explained that wines from Rioja tend to be very smooth so when RODA was creating their namesake wine, they wanted to produce a smooth wine but still have a very fruity and modern taste. They use a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache grapes from 30-100 year old vines by producing 17 single vineyard wines before creating their blends. Gonzalo paired the RODA wines with five courses of food prepared by Chef Andy Nusser and Chef Anthony Sasso. The vertical red wine tasting started with wines from 1999 and moved forward to 2003.
Chef Brandon Kida is the Chef de Cuisine of Asiate Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City. He was raised in Los Angeles and came to New York City after graduating from the CIA. He trained at Lutèce and joined the opening team of Asiate in 2003. During De Gustibus’ Asian Festivities event, Chef Brandon Kida prepared a menu that represented the cuisine of Asiate. He served a tuna tartare amuse-bouche made with spear-caught Bluefin Tuna from Block Island. The first course was a Kabocha Squash Ravioli with Stavecchio broth. Stavecchio is a hard cheese made in Wisconsin that closely resembles Italian Parmesan cheese. He created a Seared Scallop and Coconut Herb Broth dish with a Hearts of Palm and Granny Smith Apple Salad. Chef Kida’s final dish was a Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Smoked Potato Puree, Chanterelle Mushrooms, and a Blackberry Port Wine Reduction. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef Paul Nolan demonstrated a rich and creamy Flourless Double Chocolate Mousse Cake with Caramel Passion Fruit Sauce. The Kobrand Corporation paired the wines for the evening.
Chef Ed Brown is the Chef-Collaborator at Ed’s Chowder House on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He prepared a tasting of seafood-focused dishes paired with wines from the Kobrand Corporation. We started out with a bowl of Ed’s Loaded Shellfish Chowder and their famous biscuits. This is one of the traditional chowders on the restaurant’s menu. The loaded chowder is a white clam chowder base with the addition of scallops, shrimp, lobster, and crabmeat. The first recipe demonstration was a Marinated Hamachi with Yuzu, White Soy and Ginger “Milk”. Chef Ed prepared a Salmon Fillet Poached in Olive Oil with a fresh Tomato Mint Salad. The best part of the menu was Ed’s famous Scallop and Foie Gras Ravioli with Yellow Wine Beurre Blanc. This is a traditional item that he’s used at his previous restaurants. It was derived from a bay scallop ravioli that he learned to make while working in Paris. The foie gras comes from the Hudson Valley Foie Gras farm and he used wonton wrappers for the ravioli. Executive Chef John Miele joined Chef Ed on stage to prepare the dessert dish. He made an Apple Tart, which was an adaptation of a traditional French Tarte Tatin.
After leaving D’Artagnan five years ago, George Faison joined the Sarrazin family at DeBragga, New York’s quality meat purveyor, with a main interest in working with heritage breed animals. The heritage breeds are harder to raise and it takes longer to raise them, which means they cost more, but it gives the farmers an opportunity to get back into the agriculture game because they offer a much better product that’s most importantly something that can’t be mass-produced. George demonstrated the butchering and explained the particular poultry or meat in each recipe. He described where it came from, how it was raised and a little bit of information behind it. Chef Jason Hall, the Chef de Cuisine from Gotham Bar and Grill along with his team, created a wide variety of meat-focused dishes with the products provided by DeBragga.com.
Interview by Allison Beck, De Gustibus Blogger I had been the Executive Sous Chef at Union Square Café in 2003, and moved over to Tabla in 2004, and was looking for the next challenge for myself. I wanted to work at an established restaurant, a place where I could break out and hit the ground running, leading a 3 star restaurant to even higher heights. At the time, I had been cooking for 16 years, and wanted to put that experience to work in a place of my own.
Interview by Allison Beck, De Gustibus Blogger I had run into Jean-Georges at the Greenmarket, and it was sort of an “ahh” moment – we both very much loved the fresh produce, and the sheer variety, available at the markets, and conversation of course naturally flowed to nature’s bounty that surrounded us. I was originally slated to open The Mark, and then this nebulous project that was to be in the ABC Kitchen space, but it was delayed. In the interim, I helped Jean-Georges open four other restaurants around the nation, and consulted on the menu for Pipa, the other restaurant at ABC Home. When the vision for ABC Kitchen was [finally] complete, I was eager to be on that team – and here we are, the concept has finally come to fruition!
Interview by Allison Beck, De Gustibus Blogger How would you describe the cuisine at Perry St? The cuisine of Perry St is American, French, Asian contemporary cuisine. It is seasonally inspired, too, as we change the menu as produce and product availability changes with the seasons.
Interview by Allison Beck, De Gustibus Blogger How did you two meet? After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, CA, Hasty had the fortunate and rare opportunity to work for Jacques in New York City. After a couple of years of formal training and experience opening and running Jacques’ new shop, she was ready to move back to L.A. to fulfill her dream of opening up her own shop. Yet, Jacques was not quite ready to let her go. They dated for a couple of months before Hasty moved back to the West Coast, and fell in love. We married three years ago, and the rest is history!
Interview by Allison Beck, De Gustibus Blogger You are the culinary masterminds behind Elderberry Catering. When and why did you launch the catering business? We first started working in the kitchen at the German Mission to the UN, cooking lunches for visiting diplomats from 20 different countries. Over time, many of these same diplomats began asking for us to cook for them for various private events. Eventually, we decided to formally create a catering company - Elderberry Catering - with which we could handle these, and other requests, exclusively.
What was your favorite meal growing up as a child? My mom used to make skillet pork chops with caramelized onions. Did anyone specific influence a culinary career or encourage you to attend culinary school? Not really. My first job was a dishwasher, so it was a natural transition. I started chopping and cooking while dish washing in high school. Afterward, it seemed like the right choice to go to Johnson and Wales.
"Chef, I don’t think this is going to work,” De Gustibus General Manager Amaral Ozeias tells guest chef Fabio Trabocchi. Amaral is pouring a spinach spatzle dough he’s prepared through a food mill with a large-hole disc. The dough is somewhat of a thin consistency and is not producing the results he’s expected. Chef Fabio takes a look. “No, it shouldn’t look like this,” he shakes his head. He pours the dough back through the food mill to double check and frowns. No good, and the class begins in 30 minutes.
Interviewed by De Gustibus blogger Susan Streit How did you first become interested in wine? I had worked throughout college and high school in restaurants. I originally wanted to be a diplomat, and was studying to take a foreign services exam. When I came back to the United States after studying abroad in France, I decided I liked wine. Wine gave me the opportunity to be social.
Interview by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger Growing up in New Orleans, a city with such rich and unique culinary roots, what were some of the foods served in your family home? My dad was a naval officer and I was one of seven children. We were born everywhere from Rhode Island to Key West, Florida. We lived in Holland for three years before we moved to New Orleans. My mom is Danish, originally from South America, and those roots really influenced what we had for dinner on a daily basis. Dishes I remember were her Indonesian bami goreng, meatloaf, red pork, Danish red cabbage, and waffles. There was always quite array-we never knew what would be on the table. As a family, our favorites were the Indonesian dishes my mother learned to cook while living in Holland. We didn’t grow up eating New Orleans food; it was not a huge part of my culture as a child. Mom cooked all our meals at home and we didn’t go to restaurants much. There was no gumbo or jambalaya. I later came to discover New Orleans food while going out with friends in high school and working in restaurants.
Interview by De Gustibus Blogger Susan Streit When did you know you wanted to be a chef? I was a waiter in a restaurant and I was a bus boy for years before that. When I was 14 years old I forged my working papers to get that first bus boy job. While in college, I was working as a waiter in restaurants and using the money to pay for school. One day I came into the restaurant with a shaved head and they fired me. I told them they couldn’t fire me so they put me in the kitchen. I started cooking and then realized it was what I wanted to do. I no longer wanted to pursue what I was doing at school.
Interview by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger You’re a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, but did you always intend to go to culinary school? I always did. You opened your restaurant, Sfoglia, on Nantucket Island, and then a second Sfoglia in New York City. What led you to open a new location at that time, and not an entirely separate concept? We had such a strong following at the time on Nantucket. Part of our clientele [in Nantucket] lives on the Upper East Side in New York City, so we felt that it was the next-best step. It was a shoe-in.
Interviewed by De Gustibus blogger Susan Streit How did you begin cooking professionally? After I dropped out of high school in Japan, I did all kinds of work. Working in a restaurant was one of the first things I tried. I started as a dishwasher, then worked as a busser, and went on to be a kitchen helper. I really liked working in restaurants.
Interview by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger Did you grow-up in a very food oriented environment? Yes and no. Not professionally. I grew up in Princeton, Vermont and also in Massachusetts. We always ate seasonally. I definitely grew up in a family that cared about food. My mom cooked as required; she loved to entertain. My father had his own business and she entertained for that. My great-grandfather, whom I didn’t know, he was a caterer in Newark and had an ice cream store in Ocean Grove, a Methodist community on the Jersey Shore. My family would summer there and we’d make and serve ice cream. My mother grew up in Baltimore and my grandmother, during the depression, went to run the dining room at the school her children attended. She was born a Southern lady, so she took her cook with her. She planned and organized the menus and while her cook cooked.
How were you inspired to become a chef? Actually, when I was young, about 12 years old, I saw a “Good Housekeeping” magazine article. It looked very challenging. I thought to myself, “wow, you have to buy ingredients and cut them and chop them,”- it was for a stir-fry recipe. That really triggered something in me. I felt that I really wanted to cook.
Interviewed by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger You grew up on a farm in New Zealand. How did that first influence your cooking? We were encouraged [by our parents] to do a lot of cooking on the farm–dinners, baking. I did a lot of baking. We weren’t allowed to purchase lots of biscuits or cakes, they were expensive, so we baked those at home. Cooking can be very time consuming, and that kept me out of trouble. My mom did a lot of pickling and other sorts of things that were easy and cheap. We were on a budget. We killed our own animals on the farm, but got butchers to take care of the rest.
Interviwed by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger Are any of the elements of the food you grew up eating in Australia in your cooking here in New York? No. I do not think there are any individual elements of Australian food in my cooking. Traditional Australian food comes from a broad range of ingredients from many cultures. Influences from the English and other traditional European countries play a role, but there is such a large range in the cuisine. The ingredients include lots of fresh seafood, given Australia’s location, and fruits and vegetables, and many Indian and Asian spices. I would have to say that there is more Indian and Asian influence in Australian food, and less traditional European.
Interviewed by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger What led you to realize the connection between disease and poor diet? When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, they did a radical mastectomy. They took off so much skin muscle. It came back 11 years later in her bones, brain, lungs. She had a very bad prognosis. My dad had read an article about a doctor that healed his own cancer through a more natural diet. We started to incorporate a more natural diet, eating more macrobiotic, natural foods. My mom’s health was slowly getting better. She had more energy, clearer skin. I began to notice it in my own body, too. That was my first connection. Eating real food as opposed to food from a box was foreign. My mom eventually died. I told myself though, if I get sick, I will try changing my diet first. That was the first connection and then I was diagnosed with thyroid disease hyper. I used diet first instead of radiation treatment. I dropped 20-25 lbs, and my health got much better.
Interviewed by Susan Streit, De Gustibus Blogger You are of both Jewish and Argentinian heritage. What was the Bernstein kitchen like while you were growing up? Always warm, always smelling good! I was always waking up hungry to the smell of cooking. We had many old-style Jewish recipes, whether it be the best stuffed cabbage ever to creamy polenta with tomato sauce and mozzarella. A lot of chicken came out of the kitchen. Growing up it was a rough time, financially speaking, so chicken was the go-to protein. Beef was too expensive to have, despite the fact that many South American cuisines focus on their beef. But there was always a big mix food in the kitchen. We also loved going out to dinner. My parents always took us out. In my family, food was how you came together.
Interviewed by De Gustibus blogger Susan Streit At one time you were pursuing an acting career. What led you to cooking professionally? I always found cooking to be extraordinarily creative and fulfilling. I made the leap, went back to school and trained. I decided I wanted to be a chef for the creative aspects, and to get into hospitality to touch and reach people, and do something for people–which is pleasurable. And food is pleasurable.
A conversation with Chef Gavin Kaysen, Executive Chef at Café Boulud for the DeGustibus Cooking School blog. Interview by DeGustibus blogger, Renée Restivo: In a recent cooking class about Café Boulud at DeGustibus Cooking school, students enjoyed tasting the following dishes by Chef Gavin Kaysen: For “Le Voyage,” Hamachi Crudo with Compressed Watermelon, Jalapeño, Cilantro, Celery Hearts and Ponzu vinaigrette, for “Le Potager,” Chilled Spring Pea Soup with Rosemary Cream, for “La Saison,” Hand rolled Picci Pasta, white wine clam sauce, spring garlic & Newsom’s Ham, for “La Tradition,” Pancetta Wrapped Veal Loin, Pommes Anna, Asparagus, Morel Mushroom Jus, for “Le Dessert” Coffee and Chocolate Palet, Cappuccino Gelée Chocolate Powder, Nougat Ice Cream.
A conversation with Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern for DeGustibus Culinary Theater. Interviewed by Renée Restivo. You are known for preparing memorable dishes. I know you prepared many during your class at De Gustibus. Can you tell me about one of the recipes you presented at DeGustibus? One of the dishes that were fun to focus on was an egg crepe with crab and rams. It’s an interesting dish because it shows off our very simple approach to cooking the food at the restaurant. It’s very approachable. It’s memorable. The idea with our dishes is to celebrate local producers, focus on seasonal and put the dishes together that make them memorable. That memory should be anchored to a particular season.
A conversation between Chef David Waltuck and writer Renée Restivo for the De Gustibus blog. I read that you call Chanterelle “a fantasy of a restaurant, dreamed up by a little, food-loving kid, that somehow, magically, came true.” Can you tell me more about that? To go back in time, we first opened in SOHO in 1979 in a very small space. We had 30 seats and a small kitchen and it was a very beautiful room, pressed in ceiling and old mirrors. Corner with big windows very open to the street. I would say that what my wife and I did is that our experience of great restaurants - especially my experience of great restaurants in Europe and France, interpreted as Americans who were not really schooled in that style. We experienced it and absorbed it in our own way. That carries on to where we are now, a beautiful corner in Tribeca. Windows where you can feel the street is outside. Very much the same feeling. The menu is fairly small and changes every four weeks (completely). The food is a personal version of French cooking and it’s very much whatever I feel like doing. It’s all of that and it’s personal and is driven by what I feel like making. The service (still to some degree unique) was really unique in ‘79. A mix of formality and informality. We teach people the way WE do things, not the way a lot of other people do things. The person who is your waiter will clear your plate, take your order and do everything. Our menu cover changes about two times a year. Different artists have done the menus over the years.
An interview with Chef Alexandra Raij of Txikito in New York City: Can you tell me how you chose the menu for your Locavore Improvisations class at DeGustibus? I chose the dishes because they were dishes that we were able to produce around local ingredients. It was still greenmarket season. At the time in the restaurant we were evolving our dishes around proteins - whether it was a dry pantry ingredient (like chickpeas) or local cod. That is what localized it. All the other dishes were chosen to highlight really good proteins. The furthest away that anything came from was the day boat cod from PA.
Chef Scott Fratangelo of Spigolo is known for preparing honest Italian dishes with Mediterranean flavors. Here is our interview with him for the DeGustibus blog: What was the menu for the class? It was a lentil salad, cavatelli with sea urchin carbonara and balsamic marinated grilled quail. For the sea urchin carbonara, how did you come up with that and what did people learn in the class? It sounds tricky. The ingredients are egg yolk, pork fat and pancetta and a generous amount of black pepper. The idea came because the sea urchin is an egg yolk color. It’s rich and salty and to me, and I identify that with carbonara. I take egg yolks and mix it with Uni (sea urchin roe) and push it through a sieve. Once you have this mixture you want to use it right away. I put it in a bowl with pasta water and I start to mix it like making a hollandaise sauce…over a double boiler.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Bistrong of Braeburn Restaurant in NYC this past week. Here is our interview: I know your restaurant Braeburn is known for “comfort food.” Please tell me about the menu. My food is approachable. I’ve worked in a lot of higher end restaurants and the attention to detail can be perceived as precious. The food is more approachable and heartier, and the ingredients you’d find in any four star or five star restaurant. It’s seasonal. My menu definitely changes.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Patrick Connolly while he was on his way up to the wine fest in Nantucket. Here is the interview: You prepared duck during the class at De Gustibus Cooking School. Can you tell us what techniques you demonstrated when you shared that recipe? In the class I talked about scoring the skin. If you order duck and it’s a memorable one a lot of it has to do with the crispiness of the skin and that the fat is badly rendered. People enjoy the experience but it can taste too fatty. In order to score it, you make a sixteenth of an inch cross hash in the skin of the duck, then when you start to sear the duck, it opens up the fat in the skin so that it can render. It renders at the same rate and gets crispy but not tight — so it does not overcook but it is crispy.
In March, DeGustibus Cooking School arranged an on-location cooking class with Chef Martin Brock of Atria. Named for the dramatic atrium–which soars eight stories above the dining room and features a stunning modern art installation by up-and-coming New York artist, Shaun Acton–Atria fuses luxury, warmth and value to create a versatile dining experience.
Born in Israel, raised in America, Executive Chef Michael Solomonov traveled all over his home country, tasting the best hummus, eggplant dishes, breads, kebabs before opening Zahav in Philadelphia. Now, his favorite flavors and traditions from Israel make up his menu. In March, Chef Solomonov taught students about modern Israeli recipes and traditions at the DeGustibus cooking school. This week, we spoke to him on the same day he was named the Rising Star Chef of the Year Finalist from the James Beard Foundation. Interview by Renée Restivo with Chef Michael Solomonov for the DeGustibus blog.
Located in the heart of Tribeca in New York City, Corton is the collaboration of the restaurateur Drew Nieporent and Chef Paul Liebrandt. Named for the largest area of Grand Cru in Burgundy, the restaurant highlights selections from Corton on its wine list. The New York Times named it one of “10 Best Restaurants in 2008.” Chef Paul Liebrandt was the youngest Chef to receive 3 stars from the New York Times. Chef Liebrandt’s modern French menu melds the tradition of classical cuisine with a contemporary approach to ingredients and technique. He describes Corton’s cuisine as “joyful and playful, yet deeply rooted in traditional French cuisine.” For his appearance at DeGustibus cooking school this past month, Chef Liebrandt prepared the following
Chef Daniel Angerer of KLEE was part of DeGustibus cooking school’s “Brasserie & Bistro Scene” in March, when he shared recipes for “perfect salmon” sous vide, “instantly” smoked shrimp sausage (using his favorite kitchen tool). He and his fiancé Lori Mason own Klee together and call it “their first baby.” Chef Angerer’s career has taken him from Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany to the kitchens of New York’s elite dining establishments. His cooking style has been described as “taking butter from lettuce and sugar from peas.” Last week, Renée Restivo interviewed the brilliant, fun-loving Chef Angerer for the DeGustibus blog, and here is their conversation for you to enjoy.
An Interview with Chef Alain Allegretti for the De Gustibus Blog Chef Alain Allegretti is known for flavors and dishes that emphasize fresh, authentic ingredients of his native region of Provence. At his first signature restaurant, he presents his cuisine in a setting to match the classic elegance and comfortable charm of the French Riviera. The New York Times included Allegretti on its “10 Best New Restaurants” list in December of 2008. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Alain Allegretti for an interview for the De Gustibus Cooking School blog this week. Here’s the interview
On opening night at De Gustibus, we enjoyed the food of Chef Dominique Crenn, named “Best Chef of the Year 2008” by John Mariani in Esquire magazine. Chef Dominique Crenn celebrates California’s farm fresh cuisine and traditional European techniques in her dishes and is known for creating menus that emphasize high-end artisanal, sustainable, and seasonal New American cuisine with diverse influences. Dishes she prepared on Opening Night are Salsify Soup with Coco Nibs and Oyster Beignet, Seared Scallops with Sunchoke Veloute and Braised Mushrooms, Pork Belly with Caramel Onion and Fried Sage and Nutella Pot De Crème.