Pictures are not allowed in the kitchens....
Welcoming attitudes - very courteous...
A Sense of Urgency
Staff appears from everywhere, like ants
45 on staff
Menu pricing - $225/person
Averages 230-280 covers per night
First items seen are Rabbit Saddles and Racks, Sea Bass Roulades, Halibut being portioned, Hamachi and Salmon on ice, Veal being trussed...then borage, morels, pasta sheets, chocolates, white asparagus (Austrian, the French asparagus is no longer available), lobster raviolis. My first taste is a velvety Cucumber Soupe with Horseradish Foam, Dill Croutons, Dill and Radish - in a golden rimmed bowl with serviette and silver spoon....
a la carte
garde manger, canape, hot apps, soupe, rotisseur, fish, meat, vegetable, pastry, The Passe, wine
service, bar operations, offices, private dining room
bread made off-site in seperate operation for all restaurants in the Boulud group
Executive Chef Jean Francois Bruel - Students lack confidence and experience. Need real time under the gun. Attention to detail.
Chef de Cuisine Eddy Leroux - 'Learn the basics. Know the Cuisine Classique'.
Wrote 'Foraged Flavors' by Tama Matsuoka Wang & Eddy Leroux. Not released for the public yet. Only 15 copies. Foraging for wild edibles (sans mushrooms) and then relizing a recipe in 15 minutes from a foraged item.
Daniel is 70% Classique/30% Modernist (only sous vide, soy lecithin, agar).
Potato Croustade, baked, for Holding Vegetables
Use the center turned stems of peeled vegetables (turnips and carrots) cut into oblique.
Sea Bass Roulade @ 56 degrees C.
French is the language in this kitchen.
What strikes me is the love of this food, of this really good food. The culture of cuisine in France is astounding.
Everyone seems to get along. Chef LeRoux said 'service has yet to start'....
Very thin and tiny lardons, cooked between parchment paper and sheet pans for garnishes.
Everyone beckons to the chef.
All the copper is immaculate. All the silver shines. There is a lot of both...in use and on display along with the pictures of chef-friends to Daniel Boulud.
Hustle and bustle.
The sounds of the kitchen...
Mise en place containers are black plastic to-go containers, with plastic lids. They fit inside half hotel pans, on ice.
Induction heat for soups and hot apps. Gas on meat and fish line.
Must learn French (again).
11:30 a.m. - Arrival (early, of course). Staff lunch. Everyone is welcoming. I'm called 'Chef', which is awesome. Chef is on the phone. Chefs de partie are at stations. Prep is going on in the basement kitchen.
12:15 p.m. - Tour of the kitchen by Chef de Cuisine Eddy Leroux. Converstaions about Cuisine Classique, chefs, students, business and the restaurant.
1:00 p.m. - Special presentation on Jamon.
1:45 p.m. - On the line. Prep @ The Passe with Chefs Leroux and Bruel.
2:30 p.m. - Discussion and insight with Chefs about students.
4:00 p.m. Staff meal. The aromas begin to permeate the air... The pace quickens. Service staff begins to arrive.
4:30 p.m. - Final mise en place begins, The Passe and other plating stations are covered with linen, stretched and taped down with clear plastic tape. Very sexy.
5:00 p.m. 'Changes' by David Bowie plating on the radio (very low volume, but audible).
5:15 p.m. - The service staff is in uniform. Coats and ties. Black and grey. They are everywhere, like ants...
5:30 p.m. - The first orders arrive. 2 to-go orders. One lady who is here 250 days a year orders he take-out. Go... Service lasts for 6 hours.
The mise en place:
Crayfish, split peas, lardons, veal-based jus for squab, duck, beef and veal in pans on the meat station, smokers, garnishes, pastas, butter everywhere, FOH preparations, wine glasses being steamed and buffed, silver polished, herbs picked and iced, black bass roulades in water baths, visible traditional methods of French cookery, copper pots in use and hanging at all stations, the 'Beatles' playing 'Come Together'...Black Cod being blocked, salmon and veal tied in neat packages, loading fish station with mounds of portioned fish, laying out hte linens and wrapping cutting boards, selecting the cheeses for the evening with pascal and Chefs (yes, Wisconsin Cheese as well as French - Pleasant Ridge Aged Cheddar).
At 1:00 p.m. everything stops in the kitchen to attend a special opportunity....!
Jamon - 5J:
Special demonstration and cutting of pata negra (black foot pig)
Paco - head chef and ham master
$1200 for 14# ham
average employee spends 40-50 years with company
5J company started in 1879
artisanal pure ham - owned by Osbourne, Ltd. (est. 1772 by Thomas Osbourne, who settle in Cadiz, as a Port exporter), the 97th oldest compant in the world
1. pure animals
2. diet (strictly acorns and grass)
Types of Spanish Jamon:
Serrano - entry level ham, white pigs eat cereal grains, lots of quantity, pink color to ham
Iberico - good quality
Belotta - eats only acorns, can be whote and black pigs
Jamon - black pigs only, 100% acorns, free range (5 acres per animal), three different varieties of acorn trees, happy animals, made to run to water, lean meat, muscular ham, the shins are longer, less than 1% of pigs in Spain are pure bred.
Notes: The animals consume 20-21# of acorns each day. The Spanish eat 175 oz. of Jamon each year. The slaughter of the pigs begins at 17 months. The legs are cooled, shaped and the blood degourged by hand, nine times, by seperate workers who push the blood out of the ham. The fat is the secret... The hams are salted with Atlantic sea salt. They are put on a palette of salt and then covered. 5 layers of ham and salt. They hams are cured 1 day per pound of the ham. Then the hams are washed. They spend two months cellered at 50 -55 degrees F. The hams then hang in cellars for up to 3 years. Less time for the front legs ('paletta'). Back legs are 'jamon'. Front legs are more slaty, more assertive, different texture. The hams are tested with bone three places on the meat for off/pleasant aroma. 77 degrees F. is the correct temperature for bone-in hams, covered with fat and wrapped in linen. Boneless must be refrigerated @ 50-55 degree F. Render the fat for oil. Use the bone for soup. the meat is loaded with B vitamins and omega fats. 14# average for jamon. Serve several muscles from the am for a variety of flavors. Slice short, thin and translucent pieces of jamon, get a mix of the fat and lean. Embraces the concept of tapas, served with Sherry. $150/# average. @1200 per ham (retail). $9.00 per serving (1 1/2 oz.). Denomination de Originaztion.
There is more. Much more... Time to head uptown. Peace.