PER SE | New York City
Like Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders, Jonathan
Benno, Chef de Cuisine of Per Se, in large part bears the
responsibility for Thomas Keller’s multi-million dollar
New York comeback. His relationship with Keller goes back
a decade; not too far out of culinary school, Benno worked
with the legendary chef at the French Laundry, where he adopted
Keller’s philosophy about food and dining, including
the drive to settle for nothing less than excellence. At Per
Se, Benno oversees all aspects of the kitchen, creating daily
menus that shine with Keller classics as well his own inspired
creations. Benno’s every move embodies respect –
for his mentor chef, for his stringently organized kitchen,
and for the ridiculously pristine products that are the focus
of the cuisine.
Foie Gras en Terrine with Granny
Smith Apple "Gelée"
Chef Jonathan Benno of Per Se, New York-NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings
Foie gras terrine:
- 500 grams salt
- 50 grams sugar
- 150 grams curing salt
- 50 grams finely ground White Pepper
(passed through sieve to obtain a dust like powder)
- 1500 grams Hudson Valley "A" Grade foie gras
Apple gelée and sauce:
- 2 green apples
- 250 grams egg whites
- 1 liter apple juice, cold
- 250 grams Calvados
- 4 sheets gelatin
- Sugar to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1 bunch celery
- 3 red onions
- 2 green apples
- Cabernet sauvignon vinegar
- Champagne vinegar
For foie gras terrine:
Mix first four ingredients well to make cure. Cut foie gras
into 2-inch cubes. Sprinkle with 42 grams of cure and mix
well. Cryovac foie gras and marinate for 12 hours.
Remove foie from Cryovac and roll into long cylinder. Wrap
log in parchment paper, twisting ends to tighten and shape.
Unwrap once the desired shape is achieved.
Wrap the foie gras in cheesecloth in the same manner as the
parchment paper ensuring that the roll is tight and even.
Tie both ends of the foie gras with butcher’s twine,
tying off 3 equal segments throughout the roll. This will
help the foie retain its rolled shape. Poach the foie gras
in 180°F water for 90 seconds. Shock in ice-bath for 40
Wrap the foie gras (still in the cheesecloth) in a sturdy
kitchen towel using the same tying method as before. Tie a
loop at one end and hang in refrigeration, to rest, 12 hours.
Using scissors, remove the twine, towel and cheesecloth. The
log will be discolored after poaching. Using a paring knife,
scrape the discolored foie from the outside reserving in a
Slice the remaining foie gras into ½-inch thick round
slices and pass through a very fine tamis into a bowl, producing
In a warm area using a stiff spatula, beat the puree until
soft and smooth. Transfer to a piping bag with no tip.
Line terrine mold with a double layer of plastic film, letting
excess hang over sides.
With the mold set on a kitchen towel-covered cutting board,
pipe the foie in layers, vigorously tapping vessel to bring
air bubbles to the surface.
Meanwhile, render the clear golden fat from the discolored
foie over very low heat. Strain and cool slightly. It shouldn’t
When the terrine mold is full and level, top with the rendered
foie gras fat. (When the fat hardens it will serve as a seal
to prevent the terrine from oxidizing.)
Let the terrine sit overnight to solidify. Unmold the following
day. Slice and serve cold.
For apple gelée and sauce:
Roughly chop green apple and combine with egg whites. Add
to cold apple juice in pot. Heat the juice, whisking to prevent
egg whites from sticking to bottom of pot until the raft forms.
Gently simmer for 1 hour. Ladle out consommé and strain
through chinois lined with coffee filter.
Reduce Calvados in sauté pan over medium heat by half.
Meanwhile, bloom gelatin in tepid water. Bring consommé
to a boil and season to taste with salt and sugar. Add Calvados
For geleé combine 3 sheets softened gelatin with 16
ounces hot consommé and whisk to melt. For sauce, whisk
to melt 1 sheet softened gelatin with 16 ounces hot comsomme.
Peel celery, cut into very fine dice. Blanch celery in lots
of salted water then shock in ice water bath. Cut red onion
into very fine dice and pickle in equal parts Cabernet vinegar,
water and sugar. Cut green apple into very fine dice and pickle
in equal parts Champagne vinegar, water and sugar.
AT: What are your favorite
cities for culinary travel?
JB: San Francisco, I lived there. When I think of
dining I don’t necessarily think of fine dinning. Paris,
Barcelona, San Sebastian.
AT: What are your favorite
restaurants in NYC?
JB: Al di La, in Park Slope. My girlfriend is Korean,
so we eat in Koreatown. Woo Lae Oak. Cafe Boulud is also a
AT: What emerging trends
do you see in the industry?
JB: Spanish cuisine continues to be in the forefront.
We’re a pretty traditional French restaurant. Other
trends are simpler presentation; just a couple ingredients
on a plate. The upper tier of restaurants is moving away from
the big plate.
AT: Where do you see
yourself in 5 or 10 years?
JB: I hope I’m cooking. It’s hard for
me to see beyond Per Se. We’re just at our first year.
AT: What are the family
meals like at Per Se?
JB: You should come for a family meal. It’s
great. We’re very proud of it. Our staff works very
hard. I give them a hard time if they put up something that’s
not worthy. They’re wholesome. We have a buddy system.
The cooks put up a meal at 4:20, and front of house plates
a dish for themselves and someone else. It strengthens the
sense of teamwork and family. We want to tear down the wall
between front and back of house. We have different themes:
Chinese, pizza day, deli. It’s a big part of the day.
AT: What kind of pressure
do you feel at the helm of a newly-crowned 4-star restaurant?
How do you feel about restaurant reviews in general? Do you
think the process is fair?
JB: We worked hard. We’re very proud of the
reviews we’ve gotten. Frank is a great writer. He’s
done a great job. No disrespect for previous writers of The
New York Times. He brought a sense of integrity to the column.
The negative side is the politics. Frank doesn’t seem
to get involved in all that.
AT: You’ve spent
some time abroad working in France as part of your training.
How important is it to stage or get experience abroad?
JB: It was set up formerly
by Christain Delouvrier. They chopped chives the same way;
Couldn’t say the skies opened up. I learned about the
culture and passion of their restaurants.
AT: How do you prepare
a menu a menu at Per Se? Is it a collaboration between you
and Keller or more one-sided?
JB: There is a little
bit of both. We always have the classics. People would stop
coming and I’d get fired if we didn’t. The reason
Thomas and I work is because I understand his philosophy and
I don’t want to stray too far from the course. The menu
is a collaboration of sorts. The staff has a great deal of
input on the menu. We sit down at the end of night with our
sous chef and knock the menu out. I know I’m seeing
rabbit but I’m not sure with what garnish. In the spring
and fall there’s so much variety freedom with menu planning.
The winter’s a bit tougher.