This is my second year attending to the New York Culinary Experience (NYCE) weekend and it’s an absolute pleasure to be surrounded with curious and avid food enthusiasts who are eager to learn something new or at least gain some insight or useful cooking/baking tips from different chefs.
(If you’re curious about last year, here’s my recaps of Day 1 and Day 2.)
I’ve noticed this year’s breakfasts were the sublime croissants that transports me back to Paris. They were perfectly burnished and incredibly flaky and buttery. I almost did not care for anything else except for the well, thought out cheese tray.
The New York Culinary Experience is hosted by New York magazine and the International Culinary Center, the New York Culinary Experience offers people the chance to cook side-by-side with some of the world’s most renowned chefs.
Here’s some of my highlights of this particular weekend…
If you recalled last year, Chef Shaun Hergatt (now Executive Chef of the soon to be opened, Juni) taught us the versatile egg. This year, he took the ambition and arguably gave us, a sneak peek of what his restaurant would serve – seasonal produce. Since we’re (as in New York City) in the beginning of spring, we’ve cooked with asparagus, fresh peas, favas, green garbanzos, demonstrated breaking down a 30-pound plus halibut, and every plate was dotted with vibrantly colored, edible flowers.
These dishes are quite tedious to make, especially if it’s just myself cooking, if I were to replicate this. But, my take home tip/message are really about focusing on your ingredients’ freshness (hence, seasonal and if possible, from your local farmer/farmers’ market) and technique is a learned thing that you’d have to repeat hundreds and thousands of times to get it right and efficiently (e.g. filleting a whole fish cleanly).
Chef Daniel Rose of Spring is a self-taught, American-born chef (he’s from Chicago) who moved to Paris, France and opened his restaurant there. Spring is one of the hottest restaurants ever since it opened for the past three years, being mentioned in a myriad of well known food publications.
Since I missed out on dining at his restaurant (he was completely booked when I tried to reserve when I went to Paris three years ago), it’s a privilege to see him in person and get a sense of his fun and ambitious personality. (Chef Rose finished cooking/feeding us about 30 minutes later than planned. He did intended to cook four dishes but due to time restraints, he had to cut a dish out.)
The most memorable parts of his class involved with his main courses of lamb, eventually cooked two ways, were absolutely delicious. One was a roast lamb tenderloin served with baby purple artichokes, served with a green olive and anchovy vinaigrette and mint salad that makes your palate think “spring.” While his last minute addition of the unctuous, fork tender, 6-hour roasted lamb necks make you think “winter.”
He was incredibly generous and embraced in this special occasion by serving the entire class a special Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2008. (The Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region is located in the southern Rhône of France and it’s an historically important wine region, as it’s intertwined with the papal history.) This wine paired pretty well with the lamb dishes as it’s dry and has such “big” minerally flavors with silky tannins to offset the lamb beautifully.
Chef Paul Liebrandt (Corton and his new restaurant in Williamsburg, The Elm, which would open this summer) cooked a more approachable dish this year – Scotch quail eggs with Piccadilly chutney. Delicious and I love the textures of the broccoli based chutney with the refreshingly vibrant lemon zest in the background.
For those of you who read this site long enough, you should know I am a fan of pastry chef Dominique Ansel‘s (of Dominique Ansel Bakery) pastries. He worked at internationally acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant Daniel for six years before starting his own bakery about 1.5 years ago, and most recently, he’s a James Beard nominee for Best Pastry Chef this year.
Since most of these classes at NYCE are approachable cooking/baking classes that most home cooks should be able to recreate the provided recipes, Chef Ansel taught us the croquembouche (translated from French, “crunch in the mouth.”) For the French and Francophiles, you would know this is the official wedding cake for the French.
These little round balls of pâte à choux (it’s the same dough for eclairs, profiteroles, and St. Honoré) were filled with vanilla pastry cream, glazed and “glued” in caramel, and set on a nougatine base (the base was pre-made for us). It was fun to build these small tiers of profiteroles as you can decorate it it any way you can. My own croquembouche has has a diva flair with a puffy crown of spun sugar.
It’s an incredible weekend filled with lots of great food, a mix of familiar classmates and new ones I’ve met and bonded over food (they’re from all over the U.S. and abroad), and talk to chefs who are a lot more interesting and complex than what you would read on paper or on a screen.
I can’t wait for next year!
P.S. If you’d like any recipes, please send me an e-mail or comment below and tell me which of the chefs I’ve mentioned on this post for recipes.
To view more photos of this culinary weekend, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set:
New York Culinary Experience
at the International Culinary Center
462 Broadway (at Grand Street)
New York, NY 10013
Individual tickets are $1,395 (plus tax) and includes breakfasts, lunches and a closing reception each day.