Savory & Pastry: The Collision of Product and Technique

Savory & Pastry: The Collision of Product and Technique

Union and Disparity: Combinations that Stimulate the Mind and Palate

Jonathan Benno demonstrates his pork belly and octopus terrine

Hour one of day one of the ICC actually began with two products: octopus and pork belly. Chef Jonathan BennoFrench Laundry, Gramercy Tavern, and Per Se alum—shared a dish from his 1-year-old Lincoln, an octopus and pork belly terrine made with some careful slicing and a few loving hours of simulated sous vide in a Blodgett combi oven. Benno cooked octopus tentacles—with suction cups still on—for five hours with herb oil. As for the pork, he removed the skin, scored the flesh, and cooked the meat until it surrendered some (not all, thankfully) of its fat. “I try to be selective with my pork,” Benno said, as he cut around pockets of fat too large to sustain the terrine, which was held together by the gelatinous juices of the cryovac-ed belly. Even though the crowd didn’t have to wait through hours of cooking to enjoy the terrine, the end product was definitely worth the hypothetical wait: sweet pork melted into naturally briny octopus, with moments of luscious fat punctuated by piquant, crunchy, pickled—and very welcome—vegetable interruptions.

Le Pain Non-Quotidien

Loaves of Tim Healea's pretzel bread

As Tim Healea of Little T American Baker in Portland, Oregon, handed out mounds of pretzel dough to attendees at his workshop, Le Pain Non-Quotidien, he clarified, "in bread baking we don't have recipes. We call them formulas." Mastering such formulas, like water temperature in fermentation (65ºF to 75ºF is ideal), flour sourcing (Healea gets his wheat from an Idaho mill), and gluten alignment, have earned Healea numerous awards and a central role in Portland's bread scene. Those formulas also transformed lumps of dough into steaming hot pretzel rolls—a salty breakfast to go for attendees. But Healea's craft reflects more than mere precision. He showed the audience the value of gentle hand skills ("this is your last chance to manipulate the dough before it bakes"), as well as the benefits of using industrial equipment, including Hobart's stand mixer and a Baxter oven. With a fresh coat of flour on their hands and the scent of fresh-baked bread wafting, the audience learned (or were perhaps was enchanted by) the contradicting humble, intricate, exact, and intuitive qualities of the work that goes into artisanal bread baking.

Love Letter to an Apple

Confit Apple, Crème Fraîche Crème, Sable, Granny Smith Apple Sorbet and Apple Jus by Pasty Chef Sandro Micheli of Adour Alain Ducasse - New York, NY

For his interactive demo, Pastry Chef Sandro Micheli of Adour Alain Ducasse shared his love of the iconic fall ingredient, the apple. Using every part of the fruit and three different heirloom apple varieties, he created a multi-leveled, multi-textured modern spin on the Tarte Tatin. He demonstrated several classic French techniques, including a recipe of pâte sablé using hard-boiled egg yolks to create a sandier texture. As he sped around the work station, Micheli made sure to point out key tips and tricks to his audience and audibly wowed them as he plated the dessert with a final pour of reduced fresh apple sauce.

Soft Serve It Up

Pastry Chef Ralph Perrazzo prepares his Carbonated Mojito Soft Serve using an iSi whipper

Is it a cocktail? Is it a dessert? No one really cared after the first bite of Pastry Chef Ralph Perrazzo's mojito soft serve. Perrazzo pumped air and Brugal rum into a dairy base with the Carpigiani soft serve machine and yielded a nearly freezing concoction that still maintained its creamy consistency. The next stop for the ice cream was an iSi whipper that Perrazzo used to carbonate the ice cream. The final result tingled on the tongue and delivered a whopping (but pleasant) hit of booze and mint flavor. Perrazzo also demonstrated soft serve ice cream balls that he tossed in fried crunchies (for a “healthy” fried ice cream).

Cutting Kaiseki

Chef Isao Yamada of NYC's Brushstroke instructs his sous chef how to slice fish with an unagi-style knife

Chef Isao Yamada of NYC's Brushstroke instructs his sous chef how to slice fish with an unagi-style knife

"I do it every day and night." Sharpening that is, according Knife Master Isao Hirano of Masamoto Knives. This daily sharpening ritual shapes a knife, and the blade and tip evolve over time to match the personal style of the chef. With knife in hand, Chef Isao Yamada of Brushstroke demonstrated how ultra sharp Japanese knives (in contrast to Western varieties) slice through the molecular structure of fish and vegetables, without damaging the product. On the plate this translates into a perfect slice of fish that absorbs just the right amount of soy sauce.

Old World Modernism with Sous Vide

Chef Laurent Gras demonstrates how to use window tape to test the internal temperature of a sous vide bag's contents

Chef Laurent Gras demonstrates how to use window tape to test the internal temperature of a sous vide bag's contents

Chefs often think of sous vide as a technique reserved avant-garde cuisine, but Laurent Gras has used sous vide technology for 20 years, and in this workshop he demonstrated the role of sous vide technology in classic cuisine, with the goal to "elevate the natural value of the product." His Coffee-infused Lamb, Braised Baby Romaine, and Whisky Foam demonstrated his preferred method for cooking meat sous vide—searing the protein, completely cooling it, cooking it sous vide (in a Julabo immersion circulator), and finally glazing it to order. Along with technique, Gras revealed his tried-and-true formulas for sous vide cooking temperatures and times (CLICK HERE for times and temps).

Simple Food, Vivid Memories: Transforming Humble Ingredients with Technology

Craig Hopson uses the Winston CVap to prepare a wagyu bavette steak

With his Australian Wagyu Beef, Artichoke Flan, Artichoke Chips, Oyster Mushrooms, and Sesame Vinaigrette, Craig Hopson of NYC's Le Cirque demonstrated how advanced cooking technology can pull together and intensify traditional flavors. Hopson marinated the beef in soy sauce, Sherry vinegar, Sherry, olive oil, and ketchup (for a caramelized flavor). And he cooked the steaks to a perfect medium rare with the Winston Cvap oven, which he likes to use for its temperature and humidity control. Instead of adding eggs to the artichoke flan, he thickened the custard with locust bean gum and agar agar because it doesn't detract from the natural deliciousness of the artichoke—perfect without any added fat. Hopson chose umami-rich ingredients because he wanted the full flavors to "linger in your mouth." And linger they did (and melt and form deep impressions of his harmonious marriage of tradition and innovation).

Australian Lamb: From Cuts to Cuisine

Master Butcher Doug Piper breaks down an Australian lamb carcass

With a saw shearing through bone and knives slicing through flesh, sinew, and fat, Australian Master Butcher Doug Piper broke down an Australian lamb carcass in an hour flat. With attendees gathered around, he transformed the lamb into beautiful cuts: an easy carve leg, a double eye loin, which Piper likes to smoke on the grill for 45 minutes (while drinking sixish beers), lamb ribs, and lamb neck, which he recommends cutting into steaks and braising. With the double eye loin, Piper doubled the amount of meat on a rack by folding a loin into the rack and sealing it with transglutaminase (or twine or a silicone band in a pinch). Piper also gave perspective on the Aussie meat market and what butchers Down Under are cutting, selling (pre-marinated convenience cuts), and in restaurants (unusual cuts like neck).

by Emily Bell, Laura Curtis, Caroline Hatchett, Francoise Villeneuve, Katherine Sacks, and Jeanne Casagrande