Sunday, March 29, 2009

Keep Moving Forward

"Keep Moving Forward" is a quote from one of my sons favorite movies "Meet The Robinsons." It really is a great movie and one I don't mind watching 10 times in a row. But the line keep moving forward relates to an inventor who get excited every time he has a failed invention. So often we come up with dishes and I look at it and think somethings not right. More often than not it has to do with plating. Do we keep it high and tight, spread through out the plate etc. And often I get frustrated with myself for not being able to get the plate the way I want it to look. I was so frustrated the other night I hucked a spoon across the kitchen because I couldn't get my chicken to stay on top of the vegetables. I was also in the weeds and I didn't through the spoon at anyone just a wall. At the end of the shift I thought about keep moving forward. If you don't get the desired result keep moving forward. So I did and completly revamped our pan roasted chicken. I am much happier the dish. We are always refining, improving and revamping in the kitchen to make sure we are putting out our best.

Here is our new pan roasted chicken breast. We use Tanglewood Farms free range chicken from Winston-Salem. Leek and gruyere bread pudding, sugar snap beans, roasted garlic veloute and tomato fondue. It was a big hit this weekend.

We have been getting some fantastic NC coastal shrimp for about 3 weeks. They are super sweet. I have always been a fan of paella since I traveled to Spain when I was younger. We took the paella idea and revamped it slightly. We cook the shrimp sous vide in lemon, thyme and butter. The shells, and heads when we can get them, go to stock for the risotto. We serve the shrimp over a saffron,shitake, and chorizo risotto and top it with basil oil. I can't by enough shrimp to keep up with the demand.
Here are some shots of the guys and the pass this weekend.
Things to work on/new ideas

  • Update dessert menu
  • Floating Islands- on a caramleized white chocolate anglaise
  • Death by chocolate- chocolate marquis, white chocolate and raspberry jelly, mexican chocolate pot de creme
  • Cane Creek Braised pork shoulder- deconstructed NC barbecue, spaetzle au gratin and braised red cabbage
  • Salmon, orzo salad, farmers market sorrel.
  • Foam amuse bouches
  • Hot Foie Torchon.
  • Get to the Farmers Market- produce is starting to hit
  • We need to get ECOS on Board

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Menu Layout

We have been making some changes in our menu style and layout and we have been really happy. Less is more is the theory. We have been running a two page menu with one side highlighting specials. We now only have one menu which we are printing on a regular basis, and changing pretty often so try and keep up. This allows us more flexability with what's in season. We can change on a dime if need be and we are having a blast with it. This week we are looking at 2 new items going on.

First is a wild stripped bass bouillabaisse broken down. We are going to grill the bass and serve it with a slightly spicy bouillabaisse sauce, rouille croquette, and french bean salad. I
ll try and get picture up soon.

The other is Braised Cane Creek Farms pork butt with spaetzle au gratin, braised red cabbage, and spiced cider gastrique A big twist on Alsatian food and NC barbecue.

We have also been getting amazing NC coastal shrimp fresh!!!. It's been a long time since I have worked with shrimp this good. We are cooking the shrimp sous vide with butter, lemon and thyme and putting it over a spin off of paella. A saffron-chorizo risotto with shitakes, and topping it with basil oil.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Truffle Fest Pictures

PREPARE TO BE OVERWHELMED. My wife took a lot of pictures. As I said before we had a blast as some of the pictures will show.

An obscene amount of truffles from day 1. This was the story for the entire weekend

More of the Same. People were using truffles like they were button mushrooms. Awesome

This is an up close picture of our Tea smoked duck from the first night. We served it on wontons with homemade black mustard. We cured it for three days and slow smoked it with Lapsang Souchong.

Chef instructor Jules Pernell from USC.

A large bowl of truffled ranch courtesy of Sam Poley of Durham Catering. Delicious!

My sous chef John Mersinger cutting up a lot of tea smoked duck.

The beautiful house were we served our smoked duck, foie gras, and truffled brie.

Cane Creek Farms Pork belly made by Amy Lynn Lafreniere of the Umstead Hotel and Spa.

A picture of two of our three passed hors d'oeuvres. The top one is foie gras tourchon, black currant jam and shaved truffle. The bottom is our tea smoked duck with housemade black mustard.

My ugly mug working in the kitchen at the Double Tree hotel in Asheville pre party.

John getting ready the first night.

Sam Poley's roasted salmon.

Bill Harrison from The Umstead.

Me again cutting crostini

A celebratory drink at 11am on saturday. John, Bill from the Umstead, and I after finishing the risotto competition.

Two pictures of the plate John and I put out for the competition. We tried to think of ways to use risotto that didn't involve a traditional bowl of risotto. So we used the risotto rice like sushi rice and served it with seared scallop in the center, Mache tossed with verjus and pickled truffle.

A picture of the photogragher, my beautiful wife, and Amy Lynn from the Umstead.

More Champagne after the competition.

This is John first thing on saturday morning stirring our risotto with a lot of love. He looks so happy to be stirring while I kept asking what was taking him so long.
(It didn't really take that long)

This is a quick shot of the crew from the Umsteads' plate going out to the judges. It looked amazing.

John and I with the man Franklin Garland. Franklin and his wife Betty, provided all the Truffles, and Accomodations for the chefs. We were really pampered.

The large bottle of Chimay going on Ice on saturday morning. If you look closely you can see this is a 22qt cambro. That's a lot of beer.

A bunch of picture of most of the chefs at the competition with Franklin and Betty Garland front and center.

Bill working hard to make sure the chimay gets cold!

Some of us awaiting the results of the competition. Yes that is Iron Chef Walter Royal all the way to the left. He was a judge and is a super nice guy.

Saturday night I am describing our scallop dish to 120 people.

Yes look at the date on that Medoc. I went out into the dining room to brag to my wife that I was drinking a 1996 Medoc in the kitchen. She in turn shows me this bottle of 1988. Both were amazing. This is a little nod to lavash lifestyle we were living for 3 days in Asheville.

John and I trying to look pretty at the last event on Friday. These great outfits were courtesy of our restaurant Owners Ed and Deborah Roach who were so kind to let us both attend the event.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Big Thanks

I wanted to get this up as soon as I got back from Asheville where I had one of the best times cooking with some of the most amazing people. I want to thank Franklin and Betty Garland who made this weekend happen and they also provided all the truffles!!!!! I have to thank my sous John Mersinger who helped bail me out of hangover cooking. My wife Sarah who has taken an insane amount of pictures, and eaten a lot of truffles, which I will be posting soon. And to all the other chefs we worked with it was a great time and a great weekend. Look forward to more from the fest.