It’s been a busy past few weeks….but isn’t it always.
Seven weeks ago I was happy to participate in the Valrhona C3 competition held at the StarChefs Congress in Brooklyn.
“caramel cremeux coated in speculoos cookie butter, dipped in chocolate, rolled in gold”
Four weeks ago I had a Chef de Cuisine from a Michelin 2 Star restaurant stage with me in pastry because he wanted to see how I work and create in my little restaurant-by-the-sea.
Two weeks ago our restaurant was happy to have our annual Rediscovering Coastal Cuisine dinner where we invite friends and Chefs to experience our area and create a one of a kind dining experience. Having guest Chefs from Oxheart in Houston, Birch in Rhode Island, Contra in New York, and Amass in far off Copenhagen was a dream for our kitchen and our dinner guests.
After another week of reflection on these past events, I was able to define what made these past weeks special:
When I first began cooking 15 years ago I had no idea what was happening in other kitchens. Recipes and techniques were secrets, hidden behind locked doors. Ideas lived and died with the Chef. Save those thoughts for the cookbook deal. I didn’t even think about traveling, I had to work to pay rent.
Then BAM! social media happened. But even more than that, Chefs knew that in order to grow they needed to open up. From what I know it was the brilliant Ferran Adria. His legacy of recipes will be greatly overshadowed by redefining what a restaurant is. Not just a place of sustenance. But an idea, a think tank, a movement, a creative entity that makes us reflect and view how we eat, live, share, grow, act, react, respond, and most importantly, how we communicate.
He opened his restaurant doors, let in 30 stages, finished every dining season with a cookbook. Giving everyone all the recipes, techniques, thought processes on how they work.
Now we have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogs. We open our kitchen doors to anyone willing to sleep on floors, to work for free, to travel across the world.
It is no longer about a recipe. It is a shared idea on cooking.
I am the worst offender in regards to recipes. My assistant will back me up. I don’t really care where it comes from, they change constantly. Some are memorized, most are forgotten.
I live in the moment. What good is a recipe when you do nothing with it?
Give 10 Chefs a recipe for creme anglaise:
What are they going to do with it? Make ice cream? A sauce? Throw it in liquid nitrogen? Put it in an iSi canister? Make a cremeux? Add some starch to make pastry cream? Dehydrate it? Infuse?
It becomes overwhelming, the possibilities!
So now we as a community share. We have become transparent. The ultimate recipe for success.
Anyone can have any recipe I come across. Most likely I didn’t make it up? Who made up croissant dough? Can no one else use it? Wow, the world would be devastated. What matters is what you do with it. How do you envision it to be?
I learned to make hand pulled strudel from my first Pastry Chef. I made a lot of it. In various forms. Usually not the typical way. I have shown many others how to make it. So now I am working with my current assistant on utilizing this wonderful dough. Again, I don’t make something typical, though there is nothing wrong with typical, it’s just not me. It’s the process, the education, and oddly enough, when you make it correctly and thin, it’s the transparency! (oh, how life always comes full circle)
Here is a hand pulled strudel, brushed with brown butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, cut, dried, baked until golden. A scoop of sunchoke ice cream sits inside, topped with a caramelized pear chip, lightly pickled pears, housemade praline cream, and finished with fried sunchokes.
It’s my version of something malty, earthy, lightly crunchy and crisp with just enough creaminess to enjoy the delicate flakes. I want it to look like a pile of dried leaves falling from a tree.
Strudel dough is that, the thinnest of leaves…..
Here is a recipe:
100g bread flour
100g all purpose flour
pinch of salt
knead for 10 minutes, rest cold 1 hour, stretch as thin as possible over linen.
What will you do with it?
As long as you make it transparent, make it your own, then share it, pass it forward, and open yourself up.