XYZ AT W HOTEL | San Francisco
Thirty-three year old Paul Piscopo was raised in an Italian-American household in Westchester, NY, and was inspired early on by his grandmother’s cooking. Paul attended the Culinary Institute of America, and upon graduating he joined the kitchen of Aqua in San Francisco. Next he went on to Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland before teaming up with chef Ron Siegel, both at Charles Nob Hill and then at Masa’s. Siegel subsequently gave Paul a shot at opening a restaurant in Tokyo modeled after Charles Nob Hill. In early 2003, Paul accepted a position at XYZ in the W Hotel as Executive Sous Chef, taking over as Executive Chef this past June. Paul’s menu features Modern Californian cuisine with French Provençal and Italian influences, utilizing seasonally fresh local ingredients. His approach to cooking is that of a perpetual student, and Piscopo insists on l earning something new each day.
Sardine Farcie Provençal
Chef Paul Piscopo of XYZ at the W Hotel – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com
- 6 large fresh sardines
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup grated reggiano cheese
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced
- 1 eggplant, diced and pan roasted
- 6 bell peppers, 3 red and 3 yellow, roasted and peeled
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ bunch basil
- 2 zucchinis, washed, blanched and diced
- 2 yellow squash, washed, blanched and diced
- 5 Russet potatoes, fully baked on a layer of course salt
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup arugula, loosely packed
- ½ bunch basil
- ½ bunch parsley
- 2 Tablespoons reggiano cheese
- Olive oil to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F. Scale and gut sardines. Split from bellies and fillet out the bones, careful not to cut through the back. Clip off the fins. Lay out the fish skin side down. In a mixing bowl fold egg yolk, bread crumbs, and grated cheese together. Take a spoonful and place in the center of the fish. Fold the fish with the head and tail together and secure with a toothpick. Do this with all the fish. Bake in oven for about 4 minutes.
In a heavy pot, sweat onions in a little olive oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the tomatoes and cook until almost dry. Add the eggplant and roasted peppers, and cook until liquid is reduced. Add minced garlic and stew a few minutes more. Tie the basil into a tight bundle so that it may be removed later and toss into mix. Allow to cool and add zucchini and squash. Season with salt and pepper.
Put a large pot of water on the stove with water to boil. Open cooked potatoes and pass through a food mill. Place milled potatoes on a large flat surface and create a well. Season with salt and pepper. Dust with half of the flour. Crack the eggs in the center. Using a bench scraper begin to incorporate all the ingredients. Depending on how wet the mixture is, you may need to add more flour - it will depend on feel. Once you feel you have the correct consistency, knead lightly into a congruent mass. Divide evenly into smaller portions and roll out into long snake – like segments about the diameter of a nickel and cut into ½- inch sections. Lightly flour so that they do not stick together. Drop ¼ of the gnocchi into the water at a time. Once they float, use a skimmer to remove gnocchi and place into shock water. Drain out and reserve on a sheet tray.
Place all of the ingredients apart from the olive oil in a Robot Coupe and blend. Slowly add the olive oil until the desired consistency. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
To Assemble and Serve:
In a sauté pan, brown the gnocchi in a small amount of oil, season lightly and finish with a knob of butter. Arrange gnocchi on a plate. Once the fish are cooked, remove the toothpick and place 3 or 4 sardines head and tail up around with the gnocchi. Drizzle with pesto and garnish with baby arugula or mizuna leaves.
Grüner Veltliner, Hiedler, “Löss” Kamptal, Austria 2004
AB: Which place that you’ve already been to has had the greatest impact on your menus?
PP: I was in Japan for a good while and I would love to go back. The cuisine itself is amazing. You see so much and taste so much. There are tempura shops and noodle shops. Everyone takes tempura to the highest level of excellence.
AB: What are your favorite restaurants in San Francisco? What is the most memorable meal that you’ve ever had?
PP: There is this comfortable and cool little place called Q that is great for a good burger and calamari. Quince and Delfina are always up there. I also like The Dining Room at the Ritz- Carlton. My most memorable meal was in San Remo, Italy. I wandered into this restaurant and didn’t assume too much. I ordered fritto misto and they brought out fried eel, squid and octopus. The ravioli con funghi was smothered in truffles and the veal was piled high with porcini mushrooms. I was in awe!
AB: What trends do you see emerging in the restaurant industry right now?
PP: For a while, it was all about small plates - but there has been an evolution of that. The trend is more toward sharing and family style eating. This involves a lot of different courses. There is a deviation from just appetizers and entrees to more of a community table.
AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
PP: I would like to have my own business – maybe something smaller - or a couple of different businesses. I would want to diversify by having a few smaller restaurants.
AB: How would you come up with the concepts for these restaurants?
PP: I haven’t thought about it too much. I’ll have to put energy into finding a location that might determine the concepts. I have to be pretty open-minded.