Parsley, a la minibar

VIP site visit today so we did a tasting in hopes to book some major business. Chef Robert Ciborowski took the reigns on this one. He is the complex executive chef for our hotel and a TFL, el bulli, ritz alumni. He told me he wanted encapsulated parsley oil so I went with the direction of the minibar olive oil bonbon.

Pretty simple actually when you get the temp of the isomalt just right. I didn't have an induction burner which could have made this a lot easier but it worked. Heat the isomalt to 265F and dip the end of a 1" ring mold into the isomalt and slowly remove. Then hold the ring mold over a bath of extra virgin olive oil and drop 1/4 teaspoon of your desired oil into it. As the oil goes through the bottom of the ring mold the isomalt encapsulates it as it drops and there you go. Here was the bonbon in action on our shortrib dish nestled into a dollop of parsnip puree..

Overall a good tasting, solid flavors and technique.



Our cold smoker arrived today from Koerner. The italian made "Smoky Affumicatore Espresso" will allow us to cold smoke anything and everything. Pretty much a polyscience smoke gun on crack.

The copper coils cool the smoke as it works its way down to the fan. Since it cools the smoke as it's being pulled through the coils there is some condesation that collects in a chamber on the bottom left of the machine. Basically your own liquid smoke. The chamber can be coated with distilled spirits like whiskey or brandy to add flavor to your liquid smoke.

If you have used a polyscience smoke gun or homemade job then you might have noticed the smoke comes out pretty hot and if you have a lot to smoke then it can sometimes overheat and die on you in the middle of service. The smoke from the Smoky machine comes out at room temp but you can get it nice and cold by dropping a disposable pastry bag full of crushed ice into the middle of the coils.
This is going to be a great addition to the kitchen. I can't wait until it is charged and I can make a nice smoked tomato and mozzarella salad for dinner. The possiblities are endless.

"Apple" Seltzer

It's not fall but I figured I could work this out and have it squared away for a fall winter menu item. I've been throwing around the idea of "apple"seltzer for a while and I have been trying to figure out a way to make it taste good. Everyone has seen alka-seltzer, you drop 2 in a cup and you get instant effervescence. The main reaction is sodium bicarbonate and citric acid. When you add citric acid and baking soda to a warm liquid this is what happens

The reaction causes it to boil instantly, to a cold liquid it has the alka-seltzer fizz effect. The idea is to make an intense dehydrated apple powder and mix this with the citric acid and baking soda. The guest will recieve a glass of hot cider and then they drop the tablets in or the servers french it for them. Kind of like a mini volcano in your glass. If we can find a happy medium between the apple flavor and the baking soda we should be in business. I think dropping the tablet into an already flavored, clarified liquid will help. It will still look like it water but have enough flavor to combat the not so pleasant nuance of baking soda.
I've been looking for a small pill press to form the tablets but no luck on finding anything affordable yet. I will have to find something with enough compression power to shape the tablets. Maybe a small mold and a vice would work or a shot loader. We'll see what happens.


A little more in depth

If you would like to read a more in depth, personal play by play depiction of the paradigm dinner by David click here. He does a great job of time-lining the dinner. We were all so focused on our courses so sometimes you miss what's going on around you. It's good to hear another person's perspective of the evening.


I had the pleasure of collaborating on a paradigm dinner with Kurtis, Chad, and Fabian from the Trump International Hotel. It is always a great experience to get out of your own kitchen and work with other talented chefs. We talked about the menu over email and texts a couple days before my arrival. It was a pretty open forum, all of us throwing out ideas so we would have some what of a game plan and some product to work with.
I took a couple courses, so did Kurtis and Chad. Fabian took care of the desserts and we came together on the "refresh" course. Then we all jumped in on prep to help one another. Here is Chad plating his hogs head course with steamed brioche, rhubarb siracha, and pickled peach. A nice riff on bahn mi with a Momofuku-esque steam bun using the brioche dough.

Here is one dish Kurtis and I worked on. We wanted to break down a peruvian ceviche. Coconut pearls, sweet potato polenta, aji amarillo vin, micro cilantro, yellowtail. We had some trisol fortified pisco battered onion rings that ended up being a nice snack for the kitchen.

We did a cured foie, white chocolate powder, dried sherry vinegar, banana agar\gelatin strips, cherry relish, and some cherry orbs that Kurtis put together. He gave them a dip in the alginate bath and then marinated them overnight in a sweet cherry balsamic vinegar. They were awesome.

Of course we have to finish off the evening with a glass of Estrella Inedit.

Here is the menu.

June 19th, 2009

paradigm - "a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and theexperiments performed in support of them are formulated
- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

the test kitchen – we feel fortunate to be chefs during this “paradigm shift” of the culinary world. Our opened minds, humbled egos and critical palates set the framework for what is possible in this new era of unlimited culinary boundaries.
-chefs of the test kitchen-

Special Guest Chef ~ Christopher Windus ~ bluezoo

razor clam, 83ÂșC potato, smoked tomato gel
bacon foam, mirepoix

‘food party’ – episode 1
shropshire blue-cheesecake, fried chicken lollipop,
hot sauce froth, carrots, celery

corn & squash
liquid corn ravioli, laughing bird shrimp sheet
spaghetti squash, banana pepper

hogs ‘headless’ cheese
steamed brioche, rhubarb sriracha, pickled green peach
garlic scape mayo

blood orange, piquillo caraway sorbet, kumquat marmalade

cuban sandwich
pickle brined berkshire belly, wild turkey honey mustard
guanciale powder, ‘swiss miss’ sponge, pickle froth

yellowtail, sweet potato polenta, coconut pearls
aji amarillo vinaigretta, onion rings

corned skirt
swiss orbs, pumpernickle streusel, ketchup caraway vinaigrette
beer can cabbage, kennebec chips

cherry drops, cherry relish, banana
white chocolate, dried sherry vinegar, basil, pistachio brittle

toffee foam, lime air, pineapple glass, raspberry textures
red pepper streusel

caramelized brioche
coconut, queso fresco~balsamico sorbet
vanilla evoo rocks, chocolate soil

Just an ok view from the room. Not a bad place to be.


The Meat Locker

Baxter's collection is growing. Right now we are at about 28% moisture loss on the air dried guanciale. Still another couple months from breaking into the suckling ham. We found a broken down cooler in the back hallway of the hotel and it has become our charcuterie chamber. It is holding at 60F with the humidity at 65-70%. We have a little fan in the cooler to keep the air flow and small hygrometer to measure humidity.

In order to expand we need to find another broken, much bigger cooler that we can take over. These test runs and the environment of the curing chamber seem to be working pretty good. We have some casings and bactoferm ordered. With cure 1, cure 2, and dextrose on hand we will be able to start producing some nice cured meats and salumi. We have to get working on them now so we will be ready to go for the fall\winter menu and have enough stock in rotation to supply our needs. It will be an interesting process.



After all the trash talking for the past two weeks I showed up and Rob and I examined each others smoked pork. When all the judges were seated we began slicing in the other room so they could not tell whose was whose. As we sliced we each tried one another's and both said, man this is going to be close. My style was heavy brined and oak smoked, chef went with a lighter brine and mesquite pellets in his Cook shack smoker. Real wood wins.
15 judges, 4 categories, up to 5 points in each category.
Chef Rob 159- to my 162.
I guess getting up at 3:00am and starting a fire in the middle of the night paid off.

Nice fake certificate provided by chef's assistant. Thanks T, and yes I'm sure you will get in trouble for this one.

Tired, smokey, and have a private function in 2.5 hours. No time to celebrate but I could use a cold one, or three.

still smokin'

15 slow and low degrees left to go

The Challenge

The challenge has been thrown down. Rob, the exec chef of the hotel is a well traveled culinarian with places like The French Laundry, El Bulli, and The Ritz Carlton dining room chef for several of their properties on his resume. He is a great cook, no doubt, product knowledge is amazing, but can he smoke? We joke around here a lot when a certain process or classic dish comes into question and there are differences in thought on how they should be executed. The conversation usually ends like this "I forgot more about smoking than you'll ever know, what, you want to take the challenge?" and from that conversation to now, 4:00am, here I am sitting next to my smoker getting it lit for the pork loin challenge.
We got these monster pork loins from Four Story Hills Farm, it wouldn't even fit on a sheet pan. We each had one loin to do with as we see fit, the finally product has to be cooked completely in a smoker, rubs are allowed but no sauce, meat only.

We recieved the loins on Monday, I brined mine on Tuesday morning, removed them from the brine Wednesday night and were allowed to air dry until Thursday afternoon.

Thursday I applied the rub, I have my own spice mix then I toasted out all of it in bacon fat and let the rub cool to a paste. Applied the paste and allowed to air dry for another 8 hours before packing everything up to bring home and smoke.

So now here I am, early as hell, getting the smoker up to temp. I live 45 minutes from work, have to drop my son off at the babysitter on the way to work and have the pork sliced and ready for judging by noon. It will be close. I'm going to have to be on top of my temperature, 180f, and adjusting as needed.
Its good fun, healthy competition, and could earn some bragging rights. The judges range from fellow chefs, FOH managers, catering executive, and hotel GM who was once the corporate F&B director for starwood hotels so he know his stuff. They will be rating from 1-5 in categories like texture, flavor, and originality. I haven't seen the whole scoring card but this is what I have heard. I hope for chef's sake he wins or I will ride him forever on this and I'm sure he will do the same for me. I'll keep you posted on the days proceedings.



One our cooks here, Brian Baxter, has been pushing the majority of our charcuterie projects. With the recent 12 heads of suckling pig in house due to the chef gala event we had some leftover parts and pieces for the taking. Brian used a guanciale cure then slow cooked them. They are fatty and salty little pieces of delicouisness.

A nice brunoise might make an appearence in a pasta with some scallops.


You asked for it

Davidssun of the Metropolitan Club wants to know what we are doing with the Nemox Frix Air that we have acquired. It spent the first couple of weeks in the exec chef of the hotel's office but I convinced him to turn it over. We have put it to use on our raw bar and it works great for "frix-ing" small portions of bloody mary cocktail sauce. The bloody mary "sorbet" keeps the oyster nice and chilled as well as adding a smooth sauce component to compliment the oysters silky texture. You really have to play around with this thing. I thought it was going to be fairly simple but somethings definitely work better than others. Here is the bloody sorbet.

Some melon and tomato "frix-ing" salads in the future.


For some reason I forgot to post the amuse form the dinner on Wednesday with Todd so here it is.
we sous vide the belly at 82C for 12hours, then pressed them, cut and seared at low temp rendering out the skin. The L is arugula puree, the T is waterkist tomato heart, and the bread component was a brown butter powder we made with maltodextrin and the we ground brioche crouton and sifted the two together.


Todd is in Town

With 21 restaurants to run chef doesn't get to spend a whole lot of time in one place. He was here last night and we did a tasting menu for a media dinner.

The menu

BellyLT...suckling pig belly, waterkist heirloom tomato, arugula

Trifecta...ahi tartare, blood orange hamachi, peruvian ceviche

Corn Ravioli...sweet corn, summer squash, king crab tail

Mero Seabass...Hawaiian seabass, organic vegetables

Wagyu tenderloin...farm potato, porcini, agro dolce

Chocolate tasting...coriander, hazelnut, absinthe, malt, sorbet

Here are a few shots from last night's dinner. Chef isn't camera shy by any means but even after working with him for six years I find it odd to stick a camera in his face, especially while we're working. Pictures of food ok though, don't know how that works but whatever.

Here is the Mero bass from hawaii, clean flavor and one of few fish that have been recognized as sustainable from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, apparently these guys are the authority on fish and wheather or not they are sustainable. The mero is on sunchoke puree, surrounded by fiddleheads, baby purple artichokes that had been olive oil poached, ramps, morels, braised baby fennel, and baby golden beets. I love this plate, you can enjoy the fish with a little bit of everything.

The hamachi was flown in fresh from Japan. We have used the fillets that have been super chilled on the boat before processing and shipping but they aren't even close to this. I cryovac'd the fillets with blood orange juice and meyer lemon olive oil. Fleur de sel and a little fresh kumquat juice finished the vinaigrette once the fish was removed from the bag. Insane flavor and the blood oranges were sweet, not bitter. The fish was perfumed all the way throughout.

Corn Ravs, we agar'd some corn silk then built our ravs around the gel, let the cook and delicious liquid corn cream inside. These were by far the best ravioli I have ever had or made. It was just the right time for the corn, perfect sweetness.

Here is the completed dish, grilled corn, favas, spinach, tiger eye summer squash, ravs, butter poached crab tails, mache. We also spiked the corn succotash with some chile flake, it balanced everything out nicely.


Fia Perera

Fia Perera, comedian, writer, and spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States contacted me today. She is one of the leaders in bringing chefs together to sign pledges to rid restaurants of Canadian seafood until their government does something about their annual spring seal hunt. There is a very small percentage of Canadian fishing boats from seal hunting provinces such as New Foundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Quebec that take advantage of this practice to turn a profit. The HSUS is NOT targeting Inuit people that have seal hunting privileges and end up actually using the meat and fur for survival.
I am not a peta person by any stretch, I believe that people who raise animals humanely, have respect for the land and what it gives us are artisans. They care about the process, the stress that is put on the animal, and their diet but in the end they are doing it for a reason.
This is senseless killing but I do have issues with ridding the restaurant of all Canadian seafood. I understand that their government won't do anything about it, but guess what, welcome to the world. As much as I would like to believe that all canadians have bad jokes and talk funny(actually I really want to go to Canada and check out a couple places likethis one The Black Hoof), I don't want to hurt the guy who's out their getting my rod and reel ivory king salmon or beautiful oysters because some fishing boats take advantage of helpless animals. Why do the guys that make a well deserved living off the land and water and do it with respect have to suffer? I definitely don't agree with banning all Canadian seafood, but I'm on board with eliminating product that comes from companies that participate in the seal hunt.
Fia seemed well versed in all the purveyors and says she has knowledge of there actions and can let us know who to stay away from. Their is a lot of information out there on the subject but here are a couple things I was sent that are pretty convincing in themselves.


others who have joined the cause

We will be signing the petition to oppose all seafood coming from seal hunting provinces but not banning all Canadian seafood. Hopefully their government gets this under control but as long as there is a market in Europe it seems like this will be an issue. I'll bet if they ban it they would probably make similar revenue from seized boats and fines for poaching.