Letter From the Editor Vol.1

It's no secret that when you work in the restaurant industry a grueling work schedule can keep you so firmly planted in your operation that you have little hope of escaping to take in what's happening on the culinary scene in the world at large. That's why we’ve decided to add a bi-monthly column and four new "quick read" editorial features highlighting the best dishes, menus, people and places we’ve visited in our recent travels both near and far.

» Top Pairs will provide ideas for unusual and successful food and wine pairings.
» On the Plate
will show you photos of hot plating concepts.
» Tasting Menus will display impressive menus we’ve noticed.
» Button It Up
will highlight clever service ideas and point out pitfalls to avoid.

Spot Prawn from Chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence on StarChefs.comDuring Los Angeles Rising Stars this past May, I had the opportunity to visit former Rising Star Michael Cimarusti at Providence, where I was treated to a seat at the chef’s table, a glass-enclosed room adjacent to his pristine kitchen. I felt as if I were watching a ballet as Chef Cimarusti orchestrated his many plates, often employing powders rather than sauces to accent the look and flavor of his dishes. Newcomer Pastry Chef Adrian Vasquez turned out Chocolate Mousse with an inventive Avocado-Banana Puree. Later that month, during the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, I stopped by May Street Market, where Executive Chef Alex Cheswick showcases Midwest products on his menu as in his Cheesecake made with Iowa Maytag Blue.

Peekytoe Crab Salad from Chef Paul Liebrandt of Gilt on StarChefs.comRecently both Associate Editor Amy Tarr and I visited Gilt on separate occasions in New York to sample Chef Paul Liebrandt's "couture cuisine." We were both treated to a one-of-a-kind experience from this budding culinary genius. Take the dramatic and ethereal cheese course in which goat cheese foam was sprizted tableside from an elegant silver charger into a smoking bowl of liquid nitrogen. The cheese emerged as a solidified but airy mass, almost meringue-like, and was placed in a martini glass filled with green apple gelee and then topped with truffled popcorn. Or the glassy affect of the clam jus gelee in the Peekytoe Crab Salad with Sea Herb Glass which proves the title and demonstrates inventive technique.These dishes provide examples for why Liebrandt's extravagant gastronomic handiwork is taking New York diners by storm.

Bread Service at Guy Savoy on StarChefs.comA trip to Sin City in June paid off with an unforgettable experience at Guy Savoy. The service and food is a throwback to fine dining French of another era yet the backdrop is very modern with an air of Vegas grandeur. Pairing specialty bread with each course is true innovation when juxtaposed with a classic Chariot de Dessert offering spoonfuls of sweets. On the opposite end of the dining spectrum, I discovered Lotus of Siam, a "find" situated in a strip mall, serving authentic Thai cuisine. Diners can choose the spice level of their entrees and then request wine pairings to match the spice rather than just the protein in the dish.

Belgian Beers from Belga Cafe on StarChefs.comThe next stop was Washington D.C. to scout out the upcoming class of Rising Stars. Husband and wife team, Tony and Heather Chittum serve high-concept comfort food at their two restaurants, Dish and Notti Bianche. Having mastered American classics and Italian fare at these two places, we look forward to what the future holds for this couple. Not being a huge beer fan, I was pleasantly surprised at Belga Café where I quickly became a convert after sampling eight beers paired with Chef Bart Vandaele’s nouvelle Belgian cuisine. From endive sushi to tuna terrine, Belgian beer capably complimented every bite. Despite a power outage at Rasika, Bar Chef Gina Chersevani mixed an inventive House-Infused Bourbon drink and a flight of edible granita cocktails. And at Café Saint-Ex, a local chef hangout, Chef Barton Seaver serves rustic comfort food like Mussels a la Plancha. A restaurant not-to-be-missed if you plan on spending time in the Nation’s capital this summer.

Antoinette Bruno




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   Published: July 2006