• Published: Feb 23rd, 2011
  • Comments: None

Thyme Brush

Thyme brush and butter

Thyme brush and butter

NYC Delft Table Settle. Designed by Demian Repucci

A simple solution to a problem that we hadn’t known we needed to solve. Lost in the striking rush of action in the kitchen of Norwood, I stumbled through the final steps that I needed to perform before our me

al was to begin. Three floors above us, forty locally-made delft china settings, neatly wrapped in bright red string were awaiting their guests. As I was imagining them battling the brisk chill of the early autumn evening and Jonny’s humor, I collected a tray of mis en place and saw this out of the corner of my eye.

Discarded by its creator twenty minutes earlier and left to wallow as the task at hand moved to the toasting instead of the buttering of the bread. Stacks of quart containers blocked it from clear view and it was starting to get dangerously near the back edge of the prep table.

Thyme brush buttering toast. ©2009 Andy Buck

In the haze of the night, I didn’t remember the bunch of time and the smile the simple idea brought to my mind until Andy sent over these photographs. Mike Lee has done some amazingly creative things before and I have laid witness to an every growing portion of these (thanks to twitter) but this is one is exceptionally elegant.

Thyme brush buttering toast. ©2009 Andy Buck

  • Published: Nov 20th, 2009
  • Comments: 4

Liquid Centered Meatballs

The home for finished meatballs before the get frozen

Daniel and I designed these meatballs with Josh Ozersky to compete in the 2009 NY Wine and Food Festival Meatball Madness.


It was essential that we include all three main meats in our meatball for flavor but instead of mixing the ground meat together we allowed each meat to express itself  in a different layer of the dish.

The center of the meatball is a veal ragu made from veal bones and ground veal cooked into a smooth tomato deliciousness with onions and garlic. It was then set with 2% gelatin and placed into a mold.

Veal Ragu

Gelatinzed Veal Ragu

Gel Centers

We wrapped the ragu molds with pork, herbs, spices, grated cheese, breadcrumb, and eggs.

After, we rolled them in flour and egg, and covered them in coarse breadcrumbs. Next, we froze them.

While they were freezing we rendered out 20kg of beef tallow. Once frozen, they were deep fried in beef tallow and seasoned with salt, locatelli cheese, and beef bone marrow fat that had been powdered with n-zorbit tapioca maltodextrin.

Beef Tallow

Beef Tallow Rendering

We didn’t win but Giada did get hot sauce all over her face because she refused to listen to me tell her to eat it in one bite. Happens…

Finished Meatballs

  • Published: Feb 28th, 2009
  • Comments: None

Heading West

Welcome to San Francisco - Welcome to the Houseku

We left Chicago exhausted but with a profound sense of accomplishment. We had lost Mayur to rug replacement and some kind of warranty battle with an ice cream maker and we made our way to the smaller of the city’s two airports. Excited by heading home and being able to get some Potbelly’s sandwiches and Chicago style hot dogs before our flight would leave.

Without rest or comfort, just hours after we woke, we fought with all our strength to not overwhelm our conversation with talk of our trip to San Francisco the following weekend. There were many things we had learned over the past 72 hours and many new challenges that lay ahead. Spurred on by the staff of Alinea and our new-found confidence in our recipes, we set forth into reworking our next event to try and overcome that last 20%.

Cathy Erway

It was decided that we would be hosting one large meal in San Francisco as the space was large and majestic with two separate kitchens that could handle the task of serving thirty people twenty-five courses. We would be executing two dishes that required finding 20 liters of liquid nitrogen, which because of work and scheduling issues, we would not able to test until the day of the event.

Daniel was not going to be able to make it, as he had to return Colombia to check on Emilia Romagna and finalize some details for the new restaurant he would be opening in Cartagena that summer called Vera.

Jonny Cigar

Mayur as well had to succumb to the demands of real life and was relegated to cooking with us every night in preparations for the event but was not able to come with us.

In their place were three of the most enjoyable human beings I have ever met, Andrew Rosenberg, Cathy Erway and Jonny Cigar. Along with two San Francisco locals Keiko Takano and Jen Freeman as well as Melissa M. Martin, a friend of a friend who flew in from New Orleans we had assembled a formidable team to once again try to climb this great mountain of a meal.

Andrew Rosenberg

Once again our flight was scheduled to leave at some ungodly hour and having learned from our last experience with TSA, we were much better prepared for travels. It had been three weeks now where I was sleeping less than a handful of hours during any given night and the long sparsely filled flight was the perfect place for me to fall off into oblivion. All of my dreams were laced with frozen spheres of chewy candy canes or licorice syrup and seared scallops fueled by Brian and Akiko’s heated discussion of the best process and procedure for tackling this new menu. Jonny sat quietly a few seats away polishing his tie and reciting what I assumed was French poetry – delicately dancing with the elegant pronunciations in a way that was only possible by a man that learned to speak English in upstate New York farm country.

San Francisco provided us with the exact opposite weather conditions from Chicago, welcoming us with warm sunshine and soft floral sea breezes that made Jonny’s poetry seem all the more salient, I would assume. We picked out another very nice late model Minivan in a glistening shade of metallic dirty and headed off to find the Houseku and home for our final recreation.

  • Published: Feb 19th, 2009
  • Comments: None

Fall – Pig Roast 2008

So with a total sense of irony and ridiculous timing I would like to share with you today some photos from our most recent pig roast. It was a bit of a Korean/Asian influenced affair with hint of the Carolina’s and Texas as usual.

Most of what is included below would fall under the heading “food porn” but that should not be looked down upon as with all porn it functions as an important part of inspiring our society.

All photos by Annoushka Owen © 2008

This pig was slaughtered at a farm in upstate New York, Sullivan County to be specific. The kidneys are left attached to the carcass because they are the first part of the animal to spoil and when choosing meat you can tell it’s freshness from the freshness of the kidneys.

When flat roasting a pig it is key to make sure to crack the ribs off the spine and completely butterfly the whole animal. This will insure a more even cooking.

Here you can see the belly of the stuffed pig laced up with butchers twine and stuffed with Kimchi, smoked onions, garlic, chilies, scallions, chives, dry rub and 6 extra racks of ribs.

Note: the ribs that are stuffed into the chest cavity and slow cooked in the pig are the best ribs you can eat, ever. This is not up for discussion. These ribs are reserved for the crew that stayed up all night and flipped the pig, they are worth the effort.

Skin and crackle. Unfortunately the skin around these blisters becomes inedible but the meat in the opening gets a nice char and is super delicious with a touch of crunch.

Mark and I done our plastic gloves (which eventually will melt onto our hands) and get our knives in hand to break down the beast. First the stuffing is removed and the inner ribs are sent to the grill to get lathered up and charred. Then we remove the bellies and start on the primal cuts: head, then shoulders, ribs, hams, loins, tenderloins, and then to service.

A question from Mr. Low after many hours of non-sleeping
“Where did I leave my knife?”
“In that steaming pile of pork”
“Ah, yes thank you.”
“No problem what-so-ever.”

  • Published: Feb 15th, 2009
  • Comments: None

Friday Night in Chicago

Brian Sullivan, checking courses 1-4 before service

Brian Sullivan, checking courses 1-4 before service Photo: Sally Ryan

Veal Demi-Glace

Upon arriving in Chicago, on Thursday 21 January,  2009, we were a flurry of action, transforming our lovely host’s beautiful condo into a functioning kitchen and dining room. We were again blessed with a painful cold snap, which we used to our benefit by turning what was supposed to be a washer and dryer room into a walk-in freezer by opening the windows. Seems silly but this open and flat cold space was the key to being able to make this apartment a functional space to serve the meal.

After many trips to the supermarket, wine store, fish monger, butcher, cheese monger, Treasure Island and Alinea for vacuum packing, we had gotten ourselves in a good place and were ready to receive our guests for the evening. In a stroke of luck two of our guests for the evening happened to be amazing photographers and provided us some amazing shots of our prep, the dinner and the plating of the courses.

Thomas Keller's - "Calotte De Boeuf Grillee" - Grant Achatz's - Lamb, Fennel, Pernod, Coffee-Scented Air

Thomas Keller's - "Calotte De Boeuf Grillee" - Grant Achatz's - Lamb, Fennel, Pernod, Coffee-Scented Air - Photo: Adam Keats

I will save my words for evaluating our success or failures for Friday and leave it to Kyle Ryan from the Onion to give you his opinion. For what he missed from his drunken notes in terms of accuracy he makes up for in delicious creativity and having a wife who is a brilliant photographer. As it was we finished the night with a strong sense of accomplishment behind us and a great desire to attack Saturday’s event with fervor. We would be serving not only a sous chef from Alinea who cooked at all of the dinners we were recreating but one of the co-authors of the Alinea cookbook, local food writer and attendee of the original Alinea meal. The pressure was on but sleep came easy for me at least before what would become an amazingly ridiculous day.

Grant Achatz's - Spice Cake, Rum, Persimmon, Carrot

Grant Achatz's - Spice Cake, Rum, Persimmon, Carrot - Photo: Sally Ryan

  • Published: Jan 22nd, 2009
  • Comments: 1


So with an offhanded comment in a local New York publication inviting me to come and stage (intern in French pronounced with an AHGEE like mirage) at his restaurant, I found myself just a few days later speaking with Grant Achatz confirming the details for the few shorts days I would be spending in the kitchen at Alinea. The timing wasn’t the best as he was going to be presenting at Madrid Fusion the same week we were planning our Chicago dinner, so I came out the week prior for a few days of abuse and learning.

After hearing that her conversation had sparked my impending collision with the kitchen at Alinea, Jordana, TONY journalist, asked me if I would be kind enough to write about my experiences and take some photos from the short time I was going to be staging at Alinea. Owing her at least this much I did my best at capitulating all of the details and information I could.

These words were broken into a three part story that was posted on TimeOut NY in early February, 2009.

Inside Alinea: Part one

Inside Alinea: Part two

Inside Alinea: Part three

Inside Alinea: Inside Alinea – The Slideshow

As are most things in this world, the slide show for TimeOut NY has been edited and subsequently contains only a select number of the photos that were captured during my short time in the kitchen at Alinea. Therefore, for you enjoyment, please fine below the entire collection.

Please click on the little I in the upper right hand corner of the photo to provide you with a brief (or sometime lengthy) description of each photograph and its context.

Stage At Alinea

."\n"[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000111.jpg]7450Potatoes to be peeled
Peeling Potatoes - It was this menial task that I waited for until the beginning of my second shift. It was with great pride that I peeled these potatoes for Dave Beran and made some tasty chips.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000112.jpg]710Black Truffles
Here is a collection of black truffles that will easily surpass your rent. These were thinly sliced and then pressure cooked to be reduced into a juice.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000114.jpg]850Fish Prep
Sous Chef John breaking down fish for the evening's service while I prepared these trays for making a cauliflower custard with carrageenan
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000116.jpg]790The Hot Pass
Here is a quick glimpse at the hot pass during prep. The huge piece of beef was systematically broken down over the course of about an hour by Chef Achatz while a hundred other things went on around him in a flurry.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000117.jpg]650The Hot Line
Here is a little peek at the hot line during prep. One of the amazing things about the kitchen at Alinea is that it is very flexible. Here you can see an induction burner working, which was moved across the room right after this was finished.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000119.jpg]600Rum Spheres
These are rum spheres that are made with sodium alginate and calcium lactate. They are part of the "Spice Cake" dessert and are being rinsed here in fresh water after being formed.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000123.jpg]610The Cold Pass
Here is a group of other stages working furiously at the cold pass line getting ready for service. Bob is the older gentleman in the middle there. He is from Perth and he had the hugest knife ever and was really rad but felt out of place with the science.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000124.jpg]530Hot line during service
This was easily the busiest part of the kitchen. Putting out all of the hot entrees and most of the hot starting courses as well.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000127.jpg]520Lobster Powder
This is Lobster Powder. It was tasty and delicious and seems to be easy to make.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000129.jpg]610Achatz and Nick Kokonas owner of Alinea
Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas the owner of Alinea speaking before service.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000130.jpg]560Waygu beef
Here chef Dave Beran is preparing a Japanese charcoal grilled or waygu beef
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000132.jpg]460The Hot Pass - Service
Here you can see the hot pass in full swing in the middle of dinner service.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000134.jpg]470Coffee Air
These little bowls in the front of the frame are designed to be super heated and then filled with spices and then that black river rock is also super heated and placed on top of the spices and covered. The heat releases an amazing aroma as the dinner eats the dish. (paired with the lamb)
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000147.jpg]410Verical plating
Here is the beginning of the vertical chestnut plating
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000151.jpg]410Chestnut Finished
Here the chestnut dish is finished being plated and is ready for service where the waiter will lift the glass tube and let the dish fall on the plate.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000136.jpg]330The Start of turbot
Here is the beginning of the very complicated Turbot Plating.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000138.jpg]350Seafood Pudding
A bit of seafood pudding is added which is made from a seafood fume and agar
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000139.jpg]300Potatoes
Whipped potatoes added
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000141.jpg]340Turbot
here the turbot is added and covered in a butter sauce
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000143.jpg]400Finished Turbot
Covered with chamomile gel, shellfish, celery, celery leaves, and saffron puffs.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000149.jpg]350Delicate Fingers
Here chef Andrew Graves delicate fingers place the incredibly thin sauce gel on top of the turbot.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000145.jpg]300Little tweezer
A little last minute tweezer action on some turbot getting ready to go out the dinning room.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000153.jpg]400The formidible Lamb
This long dish was the Lamb dish that we fought over blindly. Once i saw its proper composition it became clear what we needed to do to create it. it was a marvel to watch it come together.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000154.jpg]370More lamb
Lamb Neck, Sous Vide Fennel, Lamb Tongue
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000155.jpg]320Coffee Air
The hot stone is covered in the spice and coffee blend right before the Lamb dish is served.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000148.jpg]300An Amazing chocolate dessert
this was plated about 30 minutes before it was needed so that the pastry chefs could help on the hot line and once it was called for it was finished in a few quick moves.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000146.jpg]300Spice cake
This is the infamous spice cake awaiting service.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000150.jpg]310The Hot pass and bob
Hi bob
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000156.jpg]340Finishing touches
With a hyssop glass that was incredibly difficult to make and added little in the way of flavoring but was out of this world beautiful.
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000157.jpg]330Hot pass at the end of service
Right before the team meeting began here was the
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000158.jpg]420Team meeting one
Chef Achatz with a group of senior chefs
[img src=http://www.arazorashinyknife.com/wp-content/gallery/stageatalinea/thumbs/thumbs_p1000163.jpg]390Craig
Craig, our man on the inside.
  • Published: Jan 18th, 2009
  • Comments: 1

and then…


A gratuitous display of pasta

In the midst of trying to recreate the series of ground breaking dinners that Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz served at their world renowned restaurants, the years of my life ticked over into another decade and with a riotous amount of celebration I became thirty. The week after, the New Year was filled with various celebrations befitting such a monumental accomplishment. My family got together for nice Italian meal on the date of my actual birth and a collection of good friends and I went to Mr. Castaño’s restaurant in midtown the next night for some serious brutality. All of this was wrapped up in a weeklong celebration showered over me by my lovely lady friend. It was a delicious week and I was very grateful for the much need break from the grueling hours of prep, cooking, planning and trying to squeeze in my day job between dinners.

So when Saturday came around I believed it was time to get back to business. We had the first of four test dinners to prepare ourselves for menu changes that Keller and Achatz executed at Alinea and the French Laundry. Being the creative forces that they were they did not just rest on their laurels and serve the same menu at all three restaurants, but they changed about 40% of the menu each meal. This kept us quite busy, writing recipes, researching techniques and then testing everything before our next series of events in Chicago and San Francisco.

We were going to split the menu up into pieces and practice some of the new elements while refining some of the harder elements we had come close to perfecting at our first series of events. Each night we would be serving eight of the twenty-four courses, paired with wine, and as you can see from these photos, a long series of cooking lessons and demonstrations.

Needless to say I was not aware of the fact that on Saturday after our test dinner my lovely lady friend had planned a huge surprise birthday party for me! So as we were cleaning up at the Whisk and Ladle, a steady stream of my friends and loved ones started to roll in carrying presents and copious amount of tasty beverages and treats. The very coy team that had been working with me all night whipped out all of their surprises and converted our dinner from a Keller/Achatz themed evening to a custom made party for me. Resplendent with special treats, fancy cocktails dreamed up by Mayur just for the evening and a very dangerous piñata which severely injured my lovely lady friend.

As luck would have it our good friend Steph Goralnick was there and was able to take some amazing photos of us cooking, the food and just some amazing interactions.

That evening’s menu:
Thomas Keller and Jonathan Benno (chef de cuisine per se):
“Galette” Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras, Italian Pistachio “Financier,” Compressed Red Sensation Pear and Garden Mache


Foie Gras

Thomas Keller's Foie Gras "Financier"

Thomas Keller and Cory Lee (chef de cuisine the French Laundry)

Salmon Cornet – Black sesame tuile and red onion crème fraîche
White sturgeon caviar – Lemon verbena gelée, cauliflower

A Lemon Verbena Party

Just seconds before plating all of the evenings Lemon Verbena Gels

Japanese Greenup Abalone – yuzu, tapioca, seaweed, matsutake mushroom broth

Snake River Farm’s “Calotte De Boeuf Grillee,” brisket and cabbage dumplings, horseradish pudding, sour cherries


Sour Cherry

Thomas Keller's Calotte de boeuf with sour cherry reduction and brisket dumplings

Chocolate S’mores – graham cracker ‘crunch,’ chocolate ‘crémeux,’ creamy “fluff” toasted marshmallow, chocolate emulsion



Thomas Keller's "S'mores"

Grant Achatz

Hot Potato-Cold Potato, Chive, Black Truffle
Black Truffle Explosion, Romaine, Parmesan


Black Truffle Explosion

A delicate collection of pasta wrapped around a black truffle juice enriched eith butter and topped with wilted romaine lettuce Parmesan and a slice of Black Truffle

Prepared with: Jesse Carter, Cathy Erway, Deborah Gorman, Mark Losinger, Akiko Moorman, Andrew Rosenberg, Mayur Subbarao


A battle of plating

Deborah Gorman, Andrew Rosenberg, Cathy Erway

…and a very special thanks and love my lovely lady friend for throwing me the most amazing thirtieth birthday party (week) ever!

For more information please click on the photo and read along with the captions.
All photos taken by Steph Goralnick © 2009

Birthday Test Dinner

A surprise birthday party while serving 8 of the next 24 course Keller/Achatz recreation in Chicago. This party was held at A Whisk and Ladle and quickly dissolved into a riotous birthday party thrown by my lovely Kathryn. All of these amazing photographs were taken by the amazing Steph Goralnick http://www.sgoralnick.com/

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  • Published: Jan 14th, 2009
  • Comments: 1

Cooking for the sake of Photography

A mess of food photography
A mess of food photography

A mess of food photography - Steph Goralnick

After a hard fought battle with Keller and Achatz a calm settled over us as we prepared for our next series of dinners in Chicago. The preparation for those events was pushed to the back of our minds and we threw a party with our friends at PhotoJoJo in celebration of the photography of food. All the attendees were invited to bring a camera and get up close and dirty with whatever was created.

Aside from us the lovely ladies from the HAPA Kitchen were there, as well as Ted Allen and Amy Sedaris’s supper club. The whole event was hosted by the Whisk and Ladle with cocktails poured by resident bartender Nick Bennett and virtuoso cocktail artist Mayur Subbarao.
Here is a small collection of photos taken by our good friend Steph Goralnick.  http://www.sgoralnick.com/

After our first hard fought battle with Keller and Achatz a calm settled over us as we prepared for our next series of dinners in Chicago. The preparation for those events was pushed to the back of our minds and we threw a party with our friends at PhotoJoJo in celebration of the photography of food. All the attendees were invited to bring a camera and get up close and dirty with whatever was created.

Aside from us the lovely ladies from the HAPA Kitchen were there, as well as Ted Allen and Amy Sedaris’s supper club. The whole event was hosted by the Whisk and Ladle with cocktails poured by resident bartender Nick Bennett and virtuoso cocktail artist Mayur Subbarao.

Here is a small collection of photos taken by our good friend Steph Goralnick.

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