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Claudia and Jeff shared the stage to make porcini zuppa with bra cheese fonduta, which is a cow’s milk cheese from Piemonte.  Jeff used heavy cream to melt down the cheese; if the cheese had been creamier, he might’ve used milk.  In any case, the dish was hearty and heartwarming, with porcini trifolati bristling with umami and the soft transition between the pungent fonduta (reinforced with white truffle paté) and the blended mushroom soup rooted in chicken broth.  A perfect Thanksgiving dish, Sal volunteered.

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The second wine pairing was a tasty Pinot Grigio (San Angelo, 2011, from our friends at Banfi Vintners), with a crisp citrus finish that resonated against the lush, creamy background of the soup.  The wine’s acidity came from their provenance in Tuscany, giving good balance to the fruity sweetness.

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Jeff and Claudia were incredibly down to earth, sharing stories of their families and upbringing.  With a smile, Claudia remarked on their initial wedding in New Hampshire, where she was overwhelmed by the flood of in-laws, very few of whom she’d even met.  Jeff’s grandmother had fifteen (15!) children, and his grandfather was one of sixteen.  I can only imagine what the family gatherings look like.  Perhaps he gets his friendliness from the Canadian side of his family, although not the French.

“I took 4 years of French, and I probably know just a few words,” Jeff said. “Not the good ones.”

For the next course, Chef Michaud seasoned a skinned half of a rabbit (simply, salt & pepper and a layer of grapeseed oil to keep the meat from drying), and put it on the grill.  He, Claudia, and Osteria’s sous-chef Scott all took turns watching and flipping the rabbit.

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After it was done, and after pulling and grinding the rabbit meat (together with mortadella, to add some additional fat and flavor), he mixed in egg & Parmesan, a relatively easy filling for agnolotti with pistachio sauce.  In his dough, he uses a blend of semolina and double-zero flour (the semolina to lend structure and stretchability), and a ton of egg yolks (forty yolks per kilo of flour mix).

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After adding dollops of filling to rolled-out and cut sheets of pasta dough, he did a gentle tri-fold of the dough and then neatly pinched off both sides around each ball of filling, squeezing out the air in each pocket.  The pistachio sauce used Sicilian pistachios, which although expensive were incredibly rich in color and flavor.  To buzz the sauce in the Vitamix, he used a mix of olive oil and neutral (grapeseed) oil, so as not to overpower the pistachio taste.

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Next up was roasted duck with cabbage and moscato grapes.  Jeff stuffed a whole Long Island duck with herbs and mirepoix, trussed the bird, then pan-seared it on all sides in a heated pan with no oil (as duck is generally very fatty and produces plenty of oil anyway).  Jeff cooked chopped cabbage in some of the remaining duck fat, along with wine and then duck stock.  And for a change, Jeff was peeling the grapes instead of his sous-chef.

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The duck came out beautifully, and the cabbage flavorful and crisp.  The flavors and richness of the bird worked well with a 2008 Poggio Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, which had a succinct tartness and a clean finish.

Claudia, the wonderful dynamo of an Italian woman, took the stage to make limoncello tiramisu, using her mother Pina’s limencello instead of espresso and rum (or whatever).  She told the story of how her mother dated a man who smelled (and whose car smelled) of pure, intense, fresh lemons.  A lemon-monger?  Is there such a thing?  She made a mascarpone mousse, fluffy, acidic, and sweet.  Pina must have had a hearty tolerance because that limoncello had bite.  As 100-proof vodka might.

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What I loved about the class was the feeling of warmth and camaraderie and energy that Jeff and Claudia brought to the room, a warm and flowing candor filled with stories.  And the roast duck and the Brunello helped, too.  Just saying.

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Hao Wang manages De Gustibus' social media and also keeps a food & travel blog at houseofhaos.com.  Follow De Gustibus on Twitter at @degustibusnyc and Hao at @haoinamerica.

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Culinary Theatre at De Gustibus

Posted on October 15, 2013 06:29 pm

A wonderful post from our friends at T Edward Wines (thanks, Karen!):

“We’re always looking for the new chefs,” said Sal Rizzo, of De Gustibus.  ”It’s a rite of passage.  When you come to De Gustibus, you’ve really made it as a chef.”  Established in 1980 by Arlene Feltman Sailhac, (the wife of Chef Alain Sailhac, who earned the NY Times’ first ever 4-star review at Le Cygne) and rebranded by Sal in 2008, De Gustibus is the oldest cooking school in the country, where chefs from New York and beyond come to perform before a discriminating audience.  ”It’s a stage and the chef is a star,” he added, noting the wall of fame that supports the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Kurt Gutenbrunner, Jean-Georges, Naomi Pomeroy, André Soltner and more.


With a state-of-the-art Miele kitchen located at the front of the class, De Gustibus can host up to 80 students who come to witness the preparation of a four to five course meal, which is then served to the class complete with wine pairings, which for many of this year’s classes will be supplied by T. Edward Wines.  ”Arlene created something magical 30+ years ago,” said Peter Cassell, our Director of Operations, “and we love the way Sal is carrying on the tradition and culture that she started.  It was an honor for us as a company to be asked to participate.” 

Playing an integral part of every meal, the wines inform the cuisine; and if a winemaker can attend, then this too is arranged.  This fall, we have Kevin Kelley of Salinia Wines speaking to the class on October 7th, which will be led by Wylie Dufresne and Jon Bignelli of WD-50 and Alder.  And on October 9th, Maria Sinskey, a chef in her own right, will present a selection of Robert Sinskey wines alongside Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune.

“The chef entertains the audience, showcasing tips and techniques,” said Sal.  ”You get a sense of who the chef is; there’s a lot of interaction.” And not only do the students get to meet the chef, they are also encouraged to ask for the chef when dining at his or her restaurant, by way of the De Gustibus connection.

Taking over De Gustibus in 2008, Sal organizes and hosts the classes, alternating with Arlene who is still very involved.  ”She’s forever an integral part of the school as a founder,” said Sal.  ”She’s my confidant, my best friend, my everything. Arlene was the first to get Rachel [Ray], and Batali called her to do a class.  She had the Marios, and I got the Gabe Thompsons [ofL'Apicio]. I started bringing in the new blood.  Dan Kluger [of abc kitchen & abc cocina] started in 2010 and wants to open every fall, and Marc Vetri [of Philadelphia's Vetri and Osteria] is returning.”

Described by Sal as “a marriage of media and the kitchen,” the classes are an intimate experience for chefs who are media savvy.  ”Josh Eden of August said it’s the best PR you can get.”

An intimate experience not just for chefs and students, Sal spoke of some memorable moments that included having Jean-Georges with his wife, his son Cedric and Cedric’s wife on stage before a packed house.  ”Jean-Georges was like a teenager,” he said, “he was so happy.”

So moved by the experience, one couple got engaged during a session last year.  And just before Sal and his partner wed, Arlene announced to a class that the wedding was upcoming while Dan Kluger brought out a sheet cake and Champagne.”  When Laurence Edelman of  Left Bank led a demonstration, his mother attended.  So enamored that her son was on the stage, at the end of class “she grabbed his face crying and said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’  I started bawling,” said Sal and laughed.

And because education is the gift that keeps on giving, De Gustibus further extends one’s pleasure by also offering featured wines for a discounted price at the end of each class.

For a schedule of upcoming classes, read here.

In addition to Wylie Dufresne and Gabrielle Hamilton, TEW is happy to be partnering with Alfred Portal of Gotham Bar & Grill; Dan Kluger; George Mendes of Aldea; Henrique sá Pessoa of Alma Restaurant; Mark Lapico of Jean Georges; Barbara Lynch and Kristen Kish of  Menton; Ed Cotton of Fishtail; Matthew Aita of Le Philosophie; Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon; Cedric Vongerichten of Perry Street; Jason Hua of The Dutch; Florian Hugo of Brasserie Cognac & Cognac East; Damon Wise of Lafayette; and Christopher Hache of Les Ambassadeurs.  We hope to see you there!

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Photo credit: T Edward Wines

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New York or France? A Blind Wine Tasting from Craft New York

Posted on October 13, 2013 10:56 pm

Last Thursday, Greg Majors, the beverage director at Tom Colicchio’s Craft, brought the team from Craft and led a blind wine tasting comparing five flights of wine from New York (Long Island and the Finger Lakes) and France.  Joining him was James Tracey, the executive chef of Craft, Colicchio & Sons, and Topping Rose House, and Abby Swain, pastry chef at Craft.  Right off the bat, Greg told us that he was going to fool us.  I mean, sure.  Who was I to think otherwise?

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As an upfront admission, I am neither a knowledgeable wine drinker nor a voluminous wine drinker, so this was an education process.  Our first flight was a pair of Rieslings.  Retracing my notes, I tasted delicious grapefruit notes in the first; the second smelled of licorice, was more minerally, with a longer finish.

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Of course, these didn’t help me differentiate between the two regions.  Zero for one, a good start for me.

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The rieslings both paired well with our first course, a marinated striped bass with orange, chilis, and microgreens.  The brightness and delicacy of the dish was a departure from the Craft experience that I previously had (admittedly, a long long time ago), which I remembered for the hearty meats and the silky, buttery potato puree.  Not that I’m complaining – the fish was very fresh, and the citrus flavors and crunch of fleur de sel combined nicely.

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Next, Chef Tracey showed us how to make cured sturgeon with leek, oyster velouté, and American caviar.  The velouté featured briny, freshly-shucked East Coast oysters (Chef Tracey was not a fan of West Coast oysters’ strength of flavor), further enhanced with the luxurious saltiness of caviar.  The sturgeon was fatty, which tempered the weight of the chardonnays that comprised our second flight.  The first wine, oakier in color and smoother in taste (vanilla) hailed from Santenay, and the second, a nuttier, funkier wine, was made in Bridgehampton.  Zero for two.

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For our third course, James broke down a guinea hen, wrapping the breast in caul fat to roast (guinea hen dries out easily on its own, thus the caul fat) and simmering the remainders of the hen to use later in a toasted cocoa nib puree.  James talked about using Steen’s cane syrup as a viable substitute for the molasses listed on the recipe (or sorghum syrup, if you can find some).  The roasted hen breast was delicious, flavorful and juicy, but the diced squash and squash purée that held a wonderful peppery amalgam (long pepper, pink peppercorns, espellete pepper, with coriander), energized by a rush of star anise.  The peppers helped the purée offset the squash’s inherent sweetness and the molasses, so as not be too much like pumpkin pie.

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With the guinea hen, we had a flight of pinot noirs, both of which held a decent amount of spice, plenty enough to stand up to the cocoa nib and star anise.  Still though, zero for three for me.

The velvety fourth flight (merlot) handled the even richer fourth course, a splendid cassoulet, a classic French dish that starts with duck fat and pork sausages and along the way adds pork belly, other confit’d pork parts, Tarbais beans, and an array of herbs.  After cooking down the meat (until the beans are done), Chef Tracey added a layer of breadcrumbs with minced shallots and tomato concassé (peeled and seeded and large-diced) in a cassoulet dish and put in the oven until the top is golden brown.  So rich, so delicious.

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Of course, I still didn’t guess the right origins for the merlots.  Zero for four.

Lastly, Abby Swain, Craft’s pastry chef, took the stage and walked us through the maple pot du crème.  Cheerful and sure-handed, Abby talked about the certainty with which she embarked on her path to becoming a pastry chef.  Given how delicious the dessert was, I have no doubt that she chose the right profession.

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The luxe maple cream, nicely chilled, was topped with spiced pecans, small cubes of caramelized apples, and whipped crème fraiche.  Lots of crème.

Greg offered his philosophy on pairing dessert wines – go sweeter than the dessert.  Otherwise, the two dessert wines both had notable secondary notes of petrol, but that surprisingly didn’t distract from how well they complemented the maple.  The first dessert wine, a Seneca Lake riesling that had been affected by botrytis, a deliberately applied fungus that shrivels the grape on the vine, absorbing the water content and leaving behind a super-concentrated husk filled with sugar.  The wine, in turn, is supremely ‘opulent” (Greg’s word, with which I completely agreed).

My friendly neighbor, Meghan (from Craft’s PR company), preferred the Sauternes Sémillon, which although less opulent was more complex in flavor.  Greg also reminded us often of that element of subjectivity in wine preferences, and so I will gladly hide behind that (as opposed to my wholesome naivete).  Zero for five.  Touché, Mr. Majors.

The other lesson that Greg imparted to the class, in line with his earlier prediction of fooling us all, was the diversity and quality of wines coming out of our own backyard.  It was a lesson well taught and well learned.

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Hao Wang manages De Gustibus' social media and also keeps a food & travel blog at houseofhaos.com.  Follow De Gustibus on Twitter at @degustibusnyc and Hao at @haoinamerica.

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Gabrielle Hamilton Tests Some Recipes at De Gustibus

Posted on October 13, 2013 10:56 pm

That Gabrielle Hamilton is a self-taught chef is almost unbelievable, given how sure-handed she seems in the kitchen and how confidently she carries herself.  But then again, she’s been at the helm of her East Village restaurant Prune for fourteen years now and that she didn’t go to culinary school so many years ago is now just a part of how the legend began.  That detail perhaps isn’t so important – instead, what’s important is that what Gabrielle has accomplished she has achieved her own way, to her own taste, and through her own sweat and tears.

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That spirit was alive and well throughout Gabrielle’s class and in her recipes (still fresh from her not-yet-submitted manuscript, and which we won’t share until the book comes out in 2014).  She pushed us to think about the ratios, the flavors, the techniques, what we thought might work and what we wanted to get out of the ingredients.

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Her first two dishes revolved around an extended version of head-to-tail, in which zucchini stems and parmesan reggiano rinds became the kitchen equivalents of offal and head cheese.  She started by making boiled zucchini stems, finished in a generous dose of kalamata olive oil.  They were a really nice starter, surprisingly juicy bites that sang of olive oil.  She also told us how she beat Bobby Flay in Kitchen Stadium when the secret ingredient was zucchini.  Way to go, Chef.

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The second dish involved boiling parmesan rinds to make a deliciously pungent base for the stracciatella.  The soup tasted like the aroma of umami-charged water that remains after soaking dried shiitake mushrooms.  The Tuscan kale was a nice textural addition to the pillowy egg, which reminded me a tiny bit of my mom’s egg drop soup.  But what stayed with me was the soup base.

Gabrielle’s rind soup prompted the class to divulge their own innovative ways to use typically discarded parmesan rinds – the most interesting of which was as a stuffing inside the cavity of roast chicken.  That one actually got Gabrielle's attention, too.

Gabrielle’s next dish also had the most range – the chewy crunch of rye crackers with a thin spread of butter, the fatty sweetness of capicola slices, the herbal savoriness of braised celery hearts victor, and the smokiness of the mackerel escabeche.  She showed us how she filets a beautiful mackerel, first cutting off the head (so she can see what innards she's taking out afterwards) and using scissors to remove the bloodline.

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The color in the escabeche marinade was incredible, an oily blend of herbs raucously rouged with paprika and red wine vinegar.

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The dish had a interesting presentation, almost a mix-and-match, DIY sort of plate.  I really liked the sweet capicola, even though Gabrielle later said it wasn't the exact kind she'd been looking for.

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Chef Hamilton also shared some insight into what sparked her inspirational self-guided journey at Prune: the days spent in her youth with a Larousse dictionary deciphering her grandmother’s recipes, handwritten in French.

Next was a savory roast quail, with a mild spiciness coaxed from a marinade that includes a mix of chili flakes (d’arbol, urfa, and aleppo), with some buttery shellbeans and cardoons.

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Maria Helm Sinsky of Robert Sinsky Vineyards flew in from her Napa digs to talk to us about the evening’s wine pairings.  The hard-to-find Pinot Noir ‘Vin Gris’ was a delicious direct-pressed rosé, and the ‘POV’, a Bordeaux blend that comes bottle-aged for four years, matched nicely the quail’s spice and richness.  I liked hear Maria’s talk about her wines – you could tell that her and her husband were incredibly passionate and skilled winemakers, in touch with the land, focused on producing interesting wines (like the Vin Gris, of which T Edward Wine sold out of their allocation in a month and a half).

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For dessert, Gabrielle made black licorice granita, which packed a double kick of strong licorice and star anise flavor.  I normally don’t like black licorice (or licorice candies), but this was a very clean licorice flavor, made enjoyable by how cold the granita arrives, and balanced out with sugary molasses and the herbal notes of anise, as well as the spoonful of orange cream on top.

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Throughout the class, Gabrielle’s advice was to be confident.  While at the time she was talking about the fileting and grilling of mackerel, it sounded like a statement with bigger context.  Gabrielle spoke with deliberate cadence, one of thoughtfulness but also constant examination.  She tossed out recipes and ideas for the group to ponder, left wiggle room in the instructions so that whoever was cooking (including herself) can make some meaningful decisions along the way.

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Hao Wang manages De Gustibus' social media and also keeps a food & travel blog at houseofhaos.com.  Follow De Gustibus on Twitter at @degustibusnyc and Hao at @haoinamerica.

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Boston Flavor in New York - Barbara Lynch and Kristen Kish

Posted on October 12, 2013 09:42 pm

“I’ve been shot!”

That’s how Barbara Lynch started her class - a champagne cork had gone off backstage in the prep kitchen, putting her improv skills on full display.

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The hilarious, dynamic duo of Barbara Lynch and Kristen Kish stopped by De Gustibus to make a few dishes from Barbara’s Boston restaurant Menton, where Kristen is the chef de cuisine.  You may also recognize Kristen’s name from Season 10 of Top Chef.  Which she won.  No big deal.  At the beginning of the class, they were talking about the craziness of their recent travels together: “we should make a show together!”  I would watch that.

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Barbara has an amazing (and inspiring) life story, which you can read about here.  She is the definition of grit and hustle and determination.  She’d just returned from some time abroad, at MAD Symposium in Copenhagen and some time in Turkey (where she picked up the recipe for one of the night’s dishes).  Unfortunately, she also came back with a broken rib (from barrel surfing with David Chang).  There could be less interesting ways to break a rib, I suppose.

They started the class with a delicious butter soup, which is exactly as the name suggests.  Of course its other components – shellfish, caviar, foamed milk & honey – were important, but the butter is still the crux.  Barbara owns a free-range cow (not surprised), so she gets amazingly fresh buttermilk.  For the rest of us that don’t own cows, store-bought premium butter is a good alternative.

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The soup, only served in an amuse-size portion, packed a ton of flavor – the rich but subtle sweetness of melted butter plus the brininess of the seafood and caviar.  Not only that but the visual composition was fantastic, a tiny smorgasbord of bright colors.  The name Menton recalls all the idyllic beachside glamour of Cote d’Azur: vibrant colors, cool breeze, fresh seafood, crisp wines.  This one amuse encapsulated a lot of that aesthetic.  Really powerful kick-start to the meal.

The next amuse was a very simple fig en croute, which showcased the seasonal fruit.The next amuse was a very simple fig en croute, which showcased the seasonal fruit.

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After the amuses, the next course was foie.  I don’t know about you, but whenever a meal begins with butter, fig, and foie gras, you know it’s going to be a good night.  What we had was a foie terrine (which is roasted and then refrigerated to set), but seared foie works just as well.  With a pan (heated til smoking), Kristen showed us how to sear and baste a beautiful slab of A grade foie gras, marinated for about an hour in dessert wine with salt & pepper.  Kristen confided that basting is one of her favorite things to do in the kitchen.  Basting A Grade foie gras – I could get into that.

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Next, Barbara walked us through the process for manti, tiny Turkish lamb dumplings the size of one’s fingertip.  Using basic pasta dough (she uses all-purpose flour), she piped small drops of filling (ground lamb, grated white onion, dried mint, salt + pepper) onto small squares out of a thin sheet on a flour-dusted board.  Two pinches got you the four-corner fold.  Then she toasted the little dumplings a bit to better seal them.  After boiling (til they float), she topped them with a tomato sauce and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

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Clean flavors, especially from the tomato sauce and yogurt, which help keep the dumplings moist.  The onion and mint also balance out the flavor of the lamb in the filling.Clean flavors, especially from the tomato sauce and yogurt, which help keep the dumplings moist.  The onion and mint also balance out the flavor of the lamb in the filling.

The last savory course was a steamed halibut with celery puree and roasted chanterelles.  Kristen showed us how she twice-cooks the mushrooms in sauté pans to get the moisture out, and Chef Lynch zested and seasoned a beautiful Cape Cod halibut filet (which she then wrapped in foil and baked in the oven).  The dish was garnished with a bit of snow fungus (or white jelly mushroom), which is almost all gelatin, another agar of sorts, great for absorbing flavors from the celery cream, while providing flakes of subtle crunch.

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Dessert was a combination of citrus and meringue – Menton lemon (jelly), topped with squares of meringue and blueberry sauce (simply made: boiled + strained, with half the batch blended).Dessert was a delicious combination of citrus and meringue – Menton lemon (jelly), topped with squares of meringue and blueberry sauce (simply made: boiled + strained, with half the batch blended).

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In addition to the food, T Edward Wines paired our dishes with some great wines, especially the Santenay 1er Cru Beauregard, which we had with the steamed halibut.

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Beyond the food, Barbara and Kristen both led the class with such personality and candor – it was easy to get a sense of their deep respect for each other’s cooking as well as their passion for (and discipline in) the kitchen.  Kristen talked about how her close friend, Stephanie Cmar (sous-chef at Barbara’s No. 9 Park), turned her onto Barbara’s then-budding restaurant group and how she used to hang around Stephanie for a chance to meet Chef Lynch.  In turn, Barbara gushed about how delicious the first meal that Kristen made for her was.  Lots of chef love in the De Gustibus kitchen.  But just so you know that these are two serious people in their kitchens, they also described their working philosophy.  “If you can lean, you can clean,” was the Menton motto, meaning that anybody lazy enough to slouch can just as well be wiping countertops and mopping floors.  Oui, chef!

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Something else that Barbara talked at length about was her new foundation, and the challenges (and rewards) of educating Boston’s schoolchildren about food.  The Barbara Lynch Foundation’s first project revolved around building a greenhouse for Blackstone Elementary School in Boston’s South End, where a few of her restaurants are located.  The foundation threw a fundraiser in February: “we called it the Blizzard Bash.  Guess what we got?”  The foundation continues to raise money for upcoming educational projects, something that I could tell from our one class that Chefs Lynch and Kish would make into unforgettable experiences for Boston’s kids.  It was great to hear the passion in Barbara's voice talking about her projects.

Afterwards, I asked Kristen about her thoughts on her first class ("it was great!") and her Michelin-star goals ("I'm going to make them come to Boston!").  I wouldn't put it past her.

 

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Hao Wang manages De Gustibus' social media and also keeps a food & travel blog at houseofhaos.com.  Follow De Gustibus on Twitter at @degustibusnyc and Hao at @haoinamerica.


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Chef Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina

Posted on October 10, 2013 04:39 pm

A wonderful guest blog post from our friend, Layla Khoury-Hanold at Glass of Rosé:

But even though his introduction was peppered with a dizzying list of accolades, Chef Kluger remained humble and showed us firsthand how he keeps it all about the food. Though the motto at ABC Kitchen is to “become organic,” relationships with farmers are more important to Dan. In fact, it was at the Greenmarket where Chef Kluger first met Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the concept for ABC Kitchen was hatched.
The evening’s five-course menu reflected that seasonal farm to table approach and allowed Chef Kluger to demonstrate a variety of techniques – including roasting, braising, poaching and baking/frying – that let the food be the star of the show.
From the onset of the class, it became clear that Chef Kluger is also an excellent teacher. He started by demystifying breaking down a whole chicken, which laid the foundation for two of the night’s dishes, including the first course: Roasted Chicken with Braised Summer Market Beans in Tomato Sauce. One bite in and the room became filled with a chorus of  “it’s so juicy” and “delicious!” Tender beans elevated by an aromatic sofrito and a kick of dried chili flakes acted as the perfect complement to the golden, crisp-skinned chicken – one of those deceptively simple, but absolutely delicious dishes.
Braising was also the technique of choice for our next course, Black Bass with Braised Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. Late summer zucchini and bursting-with-flavor tomatoes were braised together with tomato juice to create a beautiful broth. After Chef Kluger demonstrated how to get that cracker-crisp texture on the bass’ skin, he finished cooking the fish atop the braised vegetables. It was one of those elegant, seemingly effortless dishes that I know I’ll want to recreate all year. During colder months, Chef Kluger suggests braising a mix of hearty kale, spinach and potatoes.
Chef Kluger returned to roasting for our third course, this time showing us how to perfect Roasted Pork Loin. Chef Kluger is a fan of Flying Pigs Farm at the Greenmarket, but says to spend your money when you have company over. Less expensive cuts of meat like pork shoulder can be braised. He served the perfectly roasted pink slices with glazed peaches laced with zesty lime juice and smoky dried chipotle.
Our roasting tutorial was completed with just-charred broccoli topped with an insanely delicious and aromatic pistachio mint vinaigrette, plated alongside succulent poached chicken. Besides using homemade chicken stock (putting those bones and scraps good use), the secret ingredient in Chef Kluger’s poaching broth is kombu, a dried seaweed that acts as a natural MSG and imparts umami, that savory, meaty flavor.
For the sweet finale, ABC Kitchen’s pastry chef Melody Lee whipped up a batch of pillowy, mouth-watering seasonal donuts. She demonstrated how to make the dough using a mixer and a healthy dose of patience. You can tell when the dough has come together by employing the “rubber chicken test” – when you hold the dough up, it shouldn’t fall apart and the resulting visual should look like a rubber chicken. The donut holes were rolled in a vanilla sugar mix (which Chef Lee makes by blending sugar with dried vanilla bean skins) while the donuts were dipped in a vibrant Concord grape glaze. I seriously considered finishing my neighbor’s leftovers. Who leaves unfinished donuts on their plate?
I certainly didn’t. In fact, there was nothing left on my plates or in my glasses; 
Spanish wines selected by T. Edwards New York rounded out the delectable evening including a gorgeous ruby Rioja that I promptly ordered additional bottles of from Gotham Wines. 
I think I can speak for everyone in the class when I say that I left fully satisfied and utterly charmed by Chef Kluger’s stories but with a lingering hunger to get back to ABC Kitchen as soon as possible. But in the meantime, I’m armed with an arsenal of Chef Kluger’s cooking tips and techniques to try out at home.

A few weeks ago we went back to school with our most exciting roster of culinary talent yet! One such pedigreed chef that joined us during opening week was Dan Kluger.

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ABC Kitchen. Food & Wine Best New Chef Dan Kluger. Sold out classroom. I expected nothing less than a buzzing crowd for such a buzz-worthy chef.

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But even though his introduction was peppered with a dizzying list of accolades, Chef Kluger remained humble and showed us firsthand how he keeps it all about the food. Though the motto at ABC Kitchen is to “become organic,” relationships with farmers are more important to Dan. In fact, it was at the Greenmarket where Chef Kluger first met Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the concept for ABC Kitchen was hatched.

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The evening’s five-course menu reflected that seasonal farm to table approach and allowed Chef Kluger to demonstrate a variety of techniques – including roasting, braising, poaching and baking/frying – that let the food be the star of the show.

From the onset of the class, it became clear that Chef Kluger is also an excellent teacher. He started by demystifying breaking down a whole chicken, which laid the foundation for two of the night’s dishes, including the first course: Roasted Chicken with Braised Summer Market Beans in Tomato Sauce. One bite in and the room became filled with a chorus of  “it’s so juicy” and “delicious!” Tender beans elevated by an aromatic sofrito and a kick of dried chili flakes acted as the perfect complement to the golden, crisp-skinned chicken – one of those deceptively simple, but absolutely delicious dishes.

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Braising was also the technique of choice for our next course, Black Bass with Braised Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. Late summer zucchini and bursting-with-flavor tomatoes were braised together with tomato juice to create a beautiful broth. After Chef Kluger demonstrated how to get that cracker-crisp texture on the bass’ skin, he finished cooking the fish atop the braised vegetables. It was one of those elegant, seemingly effortless dishes that I know I’ll want to recreate all year. During colder months, Chef Kluger suggests braising a mix of hearty kale, spinach and potatoes.

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Chef Kluger returned to roasting for our third course, this time showing us how to perfect Roasted Pork Loin. Chef Kluger is a fan of Flying Pigs Farm at the Greenmarket, but says to spend your money when you have company over. Less expensive cuts of meat like pork shoulder can be braised. He served the perfectly roasted pink slices with glazed peaches laced with zesty lime juice and smoky dried chipotle.

1011946_10151867551263750_2123174794_n.jpg1381566_10151867551553750_2054885935_n.jpg

Our roasting tutorial was completed with just-charred broccoli topped with an insanely delicious and aromatic pistachio mint vinaigrette, plated alongside succulent poached chicken. Besides using homemade chicken stock (putting those bones and scraps good use), the secret ingredient in Chef Kluger’s poaching broth is kombu, a dried seaweed that acts as a natural MSG and imparts umami, that savory, meaty flavor.

1379871_10151867551888750_1736030367_n.jpg

For the sweet finale, ABC Kitchen’s pastry chef Melody Lee whipped up a batch of pillowy, mouth-watering seasonal donuts. She demonstrated how to make the dough using a mixer and a healthy dose of patience. You can tell when the dough has come together by employing the “rubber chicken test” – when you hold the dough up, it shouldn’t fall apart and the resulting visual should look like a rubber chicken. The donut holes were rolled in a vanilla sugar mix (which Chef Lee makes by blending sugar with dried vanilla bean skins) while the donuts were dipped in a vibrant Concord grape glaze. I seriously considered finishing my neighbor’s leftovers. Who leaves unfinished donuts on their plate?

1381485_10151867551878750_961671358_n.jpg1374257_10151867551838750_1856559511_n.jpg

I certainly didn’t. In fact, there was nothing left on my plates or in my glasses; Spanish wines selected by T. Edwards New York rounded out the delectable evening including a gorgeous ruby Rioja that I promptly ordered additional bottles of from Gotham Wines.1186223_10151867551548750_2092173067_n.jpg

I think I can speak for everyone in the class when I say that I left fully satisfied and utterly charmed by Chef Kluger’s stories but with a lingering hunger to get back to ABC Kitchen as soon as possible. But in the meantime, I’m armed with an arsenal of Chef Kluger’s cooking tips and techniques to try out at home.

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