This past Friday, I was invited to Chef Michael Patlazhan‘s Supper Club that took place at Test Kitchen in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Amongst a few other peers, the most notable guest is Ben Leventhal the co-founder of Eater and President of KitchenSurfing.
Chef Patlazhan, as I soon discover, creates beautiful plates of innovative food that’s heavily inspired by molecular gastronomy and seasonal ingredients. He was trained at the French Culinary Institute about four years ago. (Prior to his venture to cooking, he was in finance.) After graduation, he worked at a few restaurants like The Dutch and a soon to be shuttered Park Avenue restaurant in the Upper East Side.
KitchenSurfing is a marketplace for chefs. Where they match up personal chefs and people who need a cook at high and low price points and for a variety of types of engagements, from cooking lessons for the kids to fried chicken parties to 10-course anniversary dinners. They hire chefs by testing out their skills based on a dish they would like to cook for Mr. Leventhal and his staff and if they fit into their database and clientele.
KitchenSurfing’s headquarters/test kitchen is a beautiful townhouse (hey, it’s Brooklyn – and it’s certainly not a restaurant) that has three floors. The second floor (where we had dinner) is part of their office shared with a dining area (set with a dark wood kind of picnic table that can comfortably seat eight people), a medium sized kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and an outdoor porch that has a pretty nice view looking out Brooklyn (even a peek of the Whole Foods store that’s under construction.
Anyway, on to Chef Patlazhan’s beautiful food:
We started with baby beets, radish, apple, sorrel, cocoa, wild rice, mustard yogurt. This kind of plating reminds me of Michelin-starred restaurants that are whimsical, fun and beautiful. Every bite was different; refreshing and the varying textures and flavors (sweet, bitter, tart, and spicy) made it intriguing.
The blue crab, avocado, sriracha, soy sauce “caviar”, yuzu, quinoa chips, and mustard green purée vaguely reminds me of Eleven Madison Park’s plating (two revolutions ago) of having sweet crab meat that’s tightly rolled in thin avocado slices and the roll’s length was briefly blow torched. The torching is not just for show, it does give a vague caramel/smoky flavors to the sweet avocado. The sweet-tart yuzu, crispy quinoa chips and soy sauce “caviar” worked wonders with the sweet crab.
The most unusual dish (in a great way) was the mushroom textures hazelnut, garlic chive, and brown butter powder. What really stuck out in my mind was the swathe of blow torched meringue. The sweet, torched, soft marshmallow actually worked with the earthy flavors of the various mushrooms (fried enoki “hay”, maitake, and morels), mushroom chip, and mushroom leather (think of the fruit roll up texture from your childhood). The other accompaniments of garlic chive purée and brown butter powder play with the mushroom flavors very well. My table mates have said this could make a mushroom hater convert to loving the delicious fungus.
Our last savory course was duck breast, wild mushrooms, cherries, piquillo, horseradish. The tender duck breast was sous vide then seared during service. The sweet yet punchy bourbon infused cherries, a spicy piquillo leather, brash horseradish (whose foam was frozen liquid nitrogen) and a soft, delicious mushroom-quinoa cake that’s formed with an enzyme binder. It’s a robustly flavored plate that manages to be sophisticated when you have all of these components together.
A small side note: if somehow the chef could figure out how to deep fry that mushroom-quinoa cake, I need him to either mass produce this and some to me or give me the recipe! It’s really that good.
Dessert was Meyer lemon curd, Roasted white chocolate, blood orange, cardamom, cocoa chips, which I thought was a weakest of the courses served. It’s not remotely terrible overall but the texture of the rolls of roasted white chocolate was too firm and gelatinous that even my table mate on my left commented that it feels like “cutting into a hot dog.” Otherwise, this dessert would have been amazing. The flavors of sweet-tart, creamy lemon curd, sweet white chocolate, sharp blood orange, floral spicy cardamom foam and bitter cocoa would have been fantastic.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
Chef Michael Patlazhan