Gavin Kaysen


Café Boulud
New York, NY
20 E 76th St
(212) 772-2600


Chef Gavin Kaysen

Café Boulud | New York


A fateful phone call–on his home line, no less–led Gavin Kaysen to his position as executive chef of Café Boulud. In 2005 he had taken time off as chef de cuisine of El Bizcocho in San Diego to stage at Daniel; this experience convinced him that he wanted to work for Boulud (and we can assume that Kaysen’s role as the US representative at the 2007 Bocuse d’Or convinced Boulud that he wanted Kaysen to work for him). Kaysen has had quite a year: he was named one of Food & Wine 2007 "Best New Chefs," and the James Beard Foundation’s 2008 "Rising Star of American Cuisine." And it’s no wonder–Kaysen is talented and ambitious, and well equipped to carry the Café Boulud torch into a new era. His kampachi crudo with butternut squash puree, ponzu, and crispy garlic is a dish that manages to combine disparate flavors and influences into one lively, flavorful bite.

Sashimi of Kona Kampachi with Fried Garlic, Butternut Squash, Daikon and Ponzu
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud – New York, NY
Adapted by

Yield: 10 Servings


    Ponzu Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Zest of half a lime
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1½-inch piece Kona kombu
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons yuzu juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

    Butternut Squash Pureé:
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1½ cups cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper

    To Assemble and Serve:
  • 2 tablespoons cooked butternut squash, finely diced
  • ½ bulb fennel, finely diced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced very thin
  • Milk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 filet of fresh kona kampachi, skin removed, trimmed

For the Ponzu Sauce:

Wash the kombu in hot water to remove the white mold, and place in a bowl of hot water to soften. Combine the rice wine vinegar, sugar, ginger, lime zest and lemon zest in a pot and bring to a boil; remove from the heat and add the softened kombu. Cool to room temperature and then add the soy sauce and citrus juice. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 24 hours to steep the flavors. Strain and taste; you may dilute with water if the citrus flavor is too strong.

For the Butternut Squash Pureé:
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the chopped butternut squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, being sure not to color. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Carefully transfer to a blender (you may have to do this in batches) and puree with the cream until smooth. Pass through a fine meshed sieve and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill.

To Assemble and Serve:
Combine the diced butternut squash, fennel, red onion, and jalepeño. Make garlic chips by combining the sliced garlic with enough milk to cover in a small saucepot, bring to a boil; strain and repeat two times. Place a fine mesh sieve over a heat-proof bowl. Pat the garlic dry and transfer to a small saucepot with the canola oil; bring to a boil. Lightly simmer, stirring carefully until the bubbles subside and the garlic hardens slightly but does not color. Remove immediately and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Very thinly slice the kona kampachi against the grain. Arrange a few slices on each plate; top with ponzu sauce and finely diced vegetables. Spoon butternut squash puree around in a decorative fashion and garnish with a few garlic chips. Serve chilled.


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   Published: September 2008