Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Eve 2008

I'm finally back to work after what seems like forever and finally getting back into my groove. Tomorrow night is New Year's Eve and it's usually a big night for chef's all across the world expecting a high volume of diners looking to be blown away. I will be working down at the country club tomorrow with 200 people on the reservation list. I wrote the menu awhile ago and am just now refreshing myself with it. It's very simple but also leaves me plenty of room for inteprepation and presentation. I have a crew of three others working this dinner which include my restaurant chef and two other cooks. It should be very smooth since I've made sure that all the ingredients are staged tonight and ready for execution tomorrow. Hopefully, the guests will eat quickly since we are setting up a casino and live band next door and I'm not stuck there all night. I can't believe the holidays are already over and we are welcoming in 2009. Enjoy and be safe!!!

Truffle Infused Corn Bisque

Spicy Chicories with Roasted Apples, Candied Walnuts, Lemon Yogurt

Cedar Smoked Salmon with Saffron Lemon Cream

Filet Mignon with Peppercorn Cognac Cream

Roasted Thyme Scented Chicken with Natural Jus

Bananas Fosters Cheesecake

Monday, December 22, 2008

And the results are in.....

The James Beard Event will truly be one of my most memorable experience thus far in my career. We left the hotel in New Jersey at 1pm on Thursday and headed into the city to hopefully avoid any traffic and begin our setup. It took only 45 minutes to get to the James Beard House and it was nothing like what I expected for my first time. We drove through various neighborhoods of New York and made a turn onto a side street that was barely big enough for our cargo van and other vehicles to pass. We immediately jumped out and quickly started unloading all the ice chests of food and cases of wine for the dinner. The James Beard House is literally a townhouse that people walk by constantly without giving it a second glance. Once we were let into the house, we walked down a small stairway that led into the a small dining area that had some plaques, books, and a podium. To the right of that room was the kitchen that was bigger than I expected but still extremely small for 4 chefs to prepare a multi course dinner. I'm 6'2" and 235 pounds, which easily earned numerous nicknames throughout the night because I took up so much space, example were "watch those elbows Shaq" and "move out the way Shrek" (Thanks Peter). After unloading the van a few of us decided to tour the house and take some pictures. Rather than go into detail about the marvelous and eccentric history of the house, I suggest attending a dinner there and experiencing it for yourself. As we started to set up for the night we realized that the bread that was on the counter didn't taste to fresh, they were supposed to supply bread and butter for the night. After a little more investigating we realized that it was the previous day's bread and there was none for our dinner. We sent a culinary student to go find a bakery in the neighborhood and find some bread for the dinner, her instructions were to not return without some. Thankfully she was a bakery major and came through with a great variety close to arrival time. We also had it brought to our attention that we were missing a case of champagne from the waitstaff. It was put onto the cargo van when we left the hotel and came to find out it was still on the shuttle that we unloaded. One of the chefs told us about a company in New York called "Who Fuc*ked Up The Order" and said he could get the number. After tracking down this number one of the chef's called and asked for some champagne, it turned out it was the wrong number and some poor old lady was getting upset because we kept asking was it "Who Fuc*ked Up the Order". After numerous apologies we got in touch with the sommelier to pick some more champagne on her way. Once guests started arriving, they were herded through the kitchen into the dining room for the reception. We started placing all the hors d'oeuvres on platters and replenishing as fast as possible. Once it started to wind down I started focusing on preparing the lobster dish which was second course. The soup course flew out the door and next thing I knew was it was my time to start plating. I felt very good about the lobster and white chocolate dish which came out nice and looked very clean. I helped the other chef's knock out their courses and before we knew it the dinner was complete. After walking each room and discussing our dinner with the guests we packed up and headed out to the bar. Everyone met back in New Jersey and found a local bar that was packed and finished out a very successful evening. After the stressful preparation, delayed flights, winter weather conditions, early mornings with lack of sleep, and cooking hard I'm glad I was apart of this experience. Thank you to all who made this possible for me to partake in and I hope that we represented everyone well. I will be posting pictures as soon I have them all downloaded.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ready for Departure

I've attached some pictures that I took this morning from the terrace at the resort, it's cold out there!!! Thankfully I will be flying out to New Jersey tomorrow and staying at a sister hotel in preparation for the James Beard Dinner on Thursday. I'm about 90% packed and cannot wait to get out of the Colorado weather for a few days. This morning was -2 degrees and snow is still everywhere, I had to grow some hair in preparation of the winter. On Wednesday I will be doing my prep in the hotel kitchen with the three other chefs and gearing up for Thursday night. We will most likely leave the hotel at noon on Thursday and head to the "JBH". Dinner starts at 7pm and should be finished by 11pm, I think we are all planning on hitting the spotted pig afterwards. I will make sure to take lots of pictures and post a slide show when I get back this weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scallop on Peas and Carrots

Another play on some classic american cuisine, "Peas and Carrots". This is a twist of american / middle eastern flavors. The appetizer was sumac dusted sea scallop and fresh pea tendrils with ginger spiced carrot sauce. The scallops were huge and once caramelized on the outside revealed a sweet tender center. The sumac gave a nice citrus tang that really brought the ginger carrot to life. The pea tendrils were soft and creamy, they came straight from a local microgreen grower. This is definitely a dish that has become one of my top ten favorites.

Artichoke Barigoule

I wanted to play around with a classic preparation called "artichoke barigoule" for a future wine dinner. Classically i've always stewed artichokes with garlic, fennel, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions in white wine and stock. For this version I refined the classic stew and made a mushroom consomme (clarified broth) and braised the vegetables in much larger pieces. It was served at room temperature and garnished with some spicy onion shoots that gave the soup a great finish. I still think the deconstructed technique is one of the most fun ways of revisiting a classic but it may be time to start calling it something else.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rabbit Terrine Final

Last night I was able to finesse the final touches on my remaining hors d'oeuvre for the James Beard Dinner. The rabbit is ground fine and then pureed in a food processor with heavy cream to lighten it up. After baking for 1 hour in a water bath I allow it to cool under the weight of a few soup cans which forms the terrine into a perfect rectangle. I cut the rabbit into cubes and glazed with a rabbit aspic made from the bones and scraps. I serve it on carrot ginger air and truffle infused crostinis. The picture really showcases each component of this dish and we couldn't stop eating them because they tasted so good. I can't wait to showcase my food with the other chefs in less than two weeks.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Final Pictures

Yesterday, I made some time to put together two of the dishes that I will be preparing at the James Beard House on December 18th in New York City. The first dish is a Foie Gras Stuffed Fig and the second is White Chocolate Poached Lobster with Whipped Yukon Potatoes and Anise Spiced Pears. I'm really excited about the outcome of these dishes and currently have the third cooking in the oven right now. I will update that picture once it cools and I can play with the presentation.