The second installment of the James Beard Foundation‘s Dining+Design series of talks with The New School took place on Monday, May 22, 2013. The conversation, between JBF Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch and Lafayette and celebrated architects Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the husband-and-wife team behind Roman and Williams Architects. The conversation was moderated by professor Fabio Parascoli, director of The New School’s food studies program.
On the scenography of restaurant design: “Just like in film, there’s a script, and everyone knows the intentions. And you have to set that scene.”
On messing with convention: “There’s a lot of common thinking…but sometimes you have to erase some of the common knowledge from your head to make a great restaurant.”
On a chef’s dream restaurant vs. reality: “The dream chef restaurant is 40 seats in the middle of a garden only open for dinner time. In NYC the fiscal reality of that is often different. It’s all about real estate in New York. You have to design and cater to the space that you get. ”
Watch the complete conversation.
The third and final conversation in this series, between me, David Chang and Drew Salmon of Momofuku and Anwar Mekhyeckh of the The Design Agency will be held Monday, June 10. See details.
Dan Barber, Mitchell Davis, Laureen Barber, Susan Ungaro, Peter Guzy, and Fabio Parasecoli (Photo by Clay Williams)
JBF Award winning chef Dan Barber, his sister-in-law and Blue Hill creative director, Laureen Barber, and JBF Award–nominated architect Peter Guzy gathered at the New School on April 22 for a conversation about the relationship between dining and design. Moderated by myself, the conversation was the first installment of Dining + Design, a joint series between the James Beard Foundation and the New School. (You can watch the panel here.) Guzy, who designed both the diminutive original Blue Hill on Washington Place in Manhattan and the stately Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester County’s Pocantico Hills, explained how the successful architecture of a restaurant is an extension of the narrative of the cuisine.
Citing an essay in Eating Architecture by professor Marco Frascari,… read more on the JBF blog…
Basque-meets-West chef Gerald Hirigoyen
Tuesday night saw the return of Gerald Hirigoyen to the James Beard House after a ten-year hiatus. Having “performed” in Beard’s kitchen four times previously, we were excited to welcome Hirigoyen back for a dinner that showcased the west-coast-inflected French basque cooking that has made his two San Francisco restaurants, Bocadillos and Piperade, neighborhood favorites with national reputations.
Piperade in San Francisco
It was the kind of meal that interrupted conversation, as bite after bite reflected the chef’s simple and sophisticated command of his ingredients and his flavors. As but one example, consider the seared scallop he dressed with a black truffle vinaigrette and garnished with bits of blood pudding and julienne of apple. Each mouthful combined the delicate, sea-tinged flavor and rich texture of the scallop with the funky, salty flavor of the blood sausage, the dark, heady flavor of the truffle, and the crisp, cleansing sweetness of the apple. Our table was impressed all the way through the meal, from the picante prawns basquaise Hirigoyen served as an hors d’oeuvre, through the delicate, orange-blossom-flavored pâte-à-choux puffs he added to the dessert plate in celebration of Mardi Gras (make the beignets yourself).
If I had to characterize what was so remarkable about this meal, I would say it was a seeming effortlessness and simplicity in the cooking and flavor combining that could only result from a whole lot of work and thought. The tastes were unexpected but unforced, nothing obvious nor extraneous, and totally yummy. On the opposite side of the spectrum from Molecular Gastronomy, perhaps, this meal reminded me how familiar ingredients and classic techniques can, in the right hands, still be exciting and delicious.