Beet 1/3 Bras

Some awesome product from last nights chef table entered the bluezoo today. Pretty much a tour de chef's garden. Here we took some nice baby beets, 25 different herbs and blossoms, truffle fluid gel, shaved truffle, and topped with a fleur de sel, meyer lemon, acacia honey, and J.leBlanc evo vinaigrette.

Our salad has only 1/3 the amount of components Michel Bras' famed Gargouillou salad contains.


We did the chefs table tonight in our garde manger kitchen and cooler. When we do something like this Chef Rob, Arnaud, Dan, myself, Bogdon, and Shimo handle the food. This was chef Rob's menu and a sick one at that. We all get our lists and produce our parts of the dishes and bring it together. this is the second installation of the chefs table and it works out pretty well and have had good feedback so far.
First the guests arrive in the lobby, are greeted, then walked through the blue light lit back of the house to get to the gm cooler where overcoats await the guests.

We turned the gm cooler into an ice bar where the guests get some nice cocktails with lots of vodka options to start them off.

in the same cooler was an ice carving setup for oysters, mignonettes, and various cold and frozen apps all

after 20 minutes in the cooler the guests move on to the kitchen where there places are marked by personalized cutting boards.

The kitchen is set and the decor is neatly arranged food stufs

sous vide squab, cherry jus, brunoise consomme, micro tarragon

summer melon, tomato sorbet(frix air), baby leek, meyer lemon

scallop and clam, clam butter, clam air, red pepper noodle, baby squash, 10 summer blosssoms

the clam is on a rong of red pepper gelee that is also filled woth the clam and cornichon butter

iberico wrapped wsb, chanterelle, radish, roe, lobster bouillon
This was a cool technique, we wrapped the fish in iberico, seasoned, then twisted them up in the foil. Then sear in a dry pan in the foil and finish in the oven. I have to admit that this is the first time I've ever seared foil but chef said this is classic TK.

You can see the fish does look seared and the iberico has melted onto the fish. I had to temp the fish out because with this preparation. I couldn't get a good read on it, the fish stays super soft and moist.

lobster bouillon was finished at the table

four story hills dry aged cote de boeuf, grandma cib's gnocchi, peas and carrots, bordelaise glazed sweetbreads. I'll put four story dry aged up against Kobe any day of the week.

there is truffle fluid gel, pea tendril puree, truffle vin(manni evo), and also sauced the beef tableside.

It was a great dinner. It's good to know you work for someone that everytime you cook together you know your going to learn something. It may not be agar clarification or reverse spherification but some serious solid food that can stand up to some of the best restaurants in the country. The butter, the manni olive oil, the vinegars, the peppercorns, the herbs, proteins, veg, all procured from the best. It's nice to work with these products especially during a period where you don't get to see them that often.



Being where we are it's sometimes a challenge to do new and interesting things and have them be accepted by the masses. Of course creative menu writing helps, being a little vague in the description area can help us do what we want to do. In my eyes that's what I want as a diner. I don't want your paragraph long description of a dish, surprise me. It doesn't always work for everyone though. Right now we are flooded with families on vacation. If we want to survive we have to adapt to our clientele and their needs or wants. We run a lot more pasta\italian based dishes and scaled back family style menu on top of our a la carte to get the extra business that wouldn't have come through the door.
I recently read a post from Shola about his experience at Corton and listening to Drew Neiport saying, "the cream rises to the top", referring to all these restaurants offering cheaper menus to get people in the door will slowly sink to the bottom and how the ones holding their ground and don't give up on their ideals or style of food just because the economy sucks will rise to the top. I agree to an extent. If I was talking about NY then yes. Orlando isn't NY or even close to being any kind of culinary mecca so we have to take what we can get at the moment.
That being said, If we have to do basic, simple food for the masses then we have to slide these new techniques into our dishes where we can. Here is an example with some mozzarella orbs that we put in the pasta.

Looks like mozz until they stick their fork in it and all that rich mozz fondue seeps out. That's the "Gotcha!"

Sometimes I will argue the necessity of a technique, does it make the food better? In this case it does, when the mozz orb breaks and mixes into the sauce it enriches the dish.

By no means are we reinventing the wheel with but at least these little things keep us going in a time of split plate, separate checks, mac'n'cheese, 2 for 1, free glass of wine, $24.99 three course meal awesome time that we are in.


Flavors of Merguez

Still playing around with the charcuterie. We are learning a lot every time we do these cured items from fat content, flavor profile, the morphing of the flavor form start to 2 or 3 or 8 months down the road. Even the process in itself, trying to make it more efficient each time. This is a semi-dry lamb sausage we stuffed the other day. We made a harissa paste, mixed it with the ground lamb, cure 1 and bactoferm frm-2.

We ferment for 2 days at 85F, 80% humidity for the bactoferm to drop the ph to 5.0.

Now we will hang for 18 days at 55-60F before it goes into cold storage. We cooked a piece off and it has the characteristic spicy merguez taste but not as oily. This may just be the result of the recipe being a little different from a normal merguez which is not intended for aging.
So after today this will go in the meat locker and we'll check back in a couple weeks to see where we're at.

Side note, flavors of merguez could be a pretty cool dish on it's own.


Squirrel Hole

It's that time of year again to start picking, preserving, drying, salting, saving. The cabinet in my office is starting to get full with our preserves and pickles the we have been making for our fall menu. After all the pickled ramps and preserved spring vegetables are gone, we start with more summer time fruit and veg. Right now we have 3 different cherry varieties working, long peppercorn, spicy thai cherry bombs, and a port balsamic.

The goose berries could possibly end up being paired with some chilled lobster.



Finally got the go ahead for ICC. I didn't make it last year. I was in Pomona cooking for the Directors Dining Room, one month, no budget, only 2 chefs, doing 40 covers a night, new menu every night. I found myself shaving white truffles into my omelet for breakfast or pasta for lunch, sifting through my mini fridge in the hotel room loaded with shaved wagyu tenderloin, ox-heart tomatoes, fat tire, honeycomb and humboldt fog.

Bresse Chickens, brittany lobster, pouisson, live korean halibut, lupe de mer, rouget, maitake, st. pierre, toro, geoduck, monterrey abalone and scallops were regulars on the menu. It was a good experience and a chance to work with the best ingredients money could buy so I can't really complain.
Not this year. We are leaving the DDR to the california chefs, have fun, I'm going to NY. See you all there. I think Bar Boulud, Tailor, Eleven Madison Park, Saam Bar, Corton, and Del Posto would be a good start. I'm probably already behind on making some resos.


5 Spice Bacon

Our chinese bacon finished curing. We cold smoked it with a mix of ginger peach tea and birch. 5 Spice is one of those love it or hate it flavors. In moderation it works but can easily overpower. Here it was nicely balanced and not overly offensive in the clove department. Here is the smoker in action.

Pork fried rice family meal tomorrow??

At least that is what I would make if I was going to be here but I am gone for a week on some forced time off for labor purposes. I'll take it, get to spend some time with the family, get my head together for menu change, finish United States of Arugula and relax.

Fennel and Coccoa Rubbed Lonzino

This was a test run on a recipe we found on Grant Van Gameran's site. We took suckling pig loins, cured and rubbed them. Put them in a beef middle casing and hung in the meat locker. Being suckling loins they moisture loss happened fast. We just hung them on 6-24 and could have actually pulled them a week ago and would have been ready. They should be around 38% moisture loss and we were pushing 58% so not a lot of yield but a really nice flavor.

This was one of Baxter's best that he has produced. It's all trial and error, super salty, or not enough and you loose it to spoilage. There is a fine line. We are using some product to assist us like bactoferm and insta cures since the Florida environment isn't really the best place for Charcuterie. Another month left on our suckling pig prosciutto, can't wait.


Georgia Inspired

Utilizing some vidalia onions in our pasta tonight. The tortellini are filled with a mixture of pureed confit vidalia, potato, and extra virgin. When removed from the water they are tossed in a smoked burro fusso. We paired these with an orange molasses brined pork belly we picked up from Snake River Farms, some chanterelles that happened to turn up after not being utilized at another event in the hotel, some evo pudding, onion blossoms, arugula, and peach.

This is my flavor test run for the new pork that will be on the menu. Instead of vidalia confit tortellini we will agar and mold spheres of the onion puree, double bread them and fry for a nice liquid center vidalia "fritter".

The onion blossoms are intense! I recommend not eating these on their own as Aaron and I each took a nice bite out of one of the blossoms and ended up regretting it. I have come to the conclusion that there is pretty much nothing on the planet that will get that taste out of your mouth if you have too much at once. Eat one and it will only take about 4 hours for it to go away. Needless to say, we are using them sparingly as to not offend anyone's taste buds but it is a good background flavor in moderation.



It's that time of year again and our chanterais melons have come in from Charlie at Hammock Hollow Farms. The whole walk in smells like melons. They are similar to cantaloupe but far superior flavor. The executive sous chef of the hotel Arnaud Violtat reminded me that "they are so good because they are french" like him.

I replied by saying "of course they are french, they are only good for two weeks out of the year." It was all in good fun, I've worked for and been yelled at by enough french chefs I can get away with it, sometimes.

Here is last years chanterais plate of mint yogurt, procuitto, honeydew fluid gel, and compressed chanterais. This was also one of the first dishes where we used fluid gels on our menu.

We used them tuesday on our tasting with some dungeness crab, yuzu rice vinegar compressed heart of palm, and whipped coconut, micro shiso.


Olive Oil Pudding

A balance of sweet and salty olive oil goodness.