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THE ÉLECTRONS LIBRES TAKE -2–AMERICAN CHEFS: FREDRIK BERSELIUS/RICHARD KUO

The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.

This pop-up concept, more and more permanent, comes from the chefs Fredrik Berselius and Richard Kuo. Two chefs, one from Stockholm and the other raised in Australia, who decided after passages from among the best chefs (Per Se, WD-50 and Corton) to start their own restaurant. A small space of 18 chairs in Williamsburg where you can enjoy a tasting menu for $ 45!

It is said Frej is a “Nordic cuisine in NYC”, I would rather say after talking to Fredrik Berselius that the two chefs have a unique creativity influenced by certain characteristics of the “New Nordic Cuisine”, by excellent basic techniques and by their environment (New York, producers etc.). A “cuisine” that makes me sometimes think at James Lowe & Isaac McHale (London).

…Or when New York becomes the meeting point of Sweden, Australia and … products of New York State, this gives Frej’s cuisine!

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Q+A WITH FREDRIK BERSELIUS/RICHARD KUO (www.frejnyc.com ):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine at Frej?

FBerselius/RKuo- Our food is simple and local, the flavors are heavily influenced by Scandinavia. Cooking techniques are mixed of old traditional ways and modern new ones. We wanted to serve a meal in a way we like to eat and make it more accessible to younger people and others who normally don’t go out and eat tasting menus.
We focus on trying to build relationships with suppliers who are passionate about what they do. We try and work with directly small producers rather than working with big distributers, working with people who can help us understand what they do best and in turn we learn how to understand our products better.

2-(Scoffier) Can we feel your origins in the concept? (Is there a bit of Australia and Sweden in your cuisine…)

FBerselius/RKuo- Because we want to work with local ingredients and believe there are many similarities between New York, the Northeast and Sweden, having a Scandinavian approach wasmost natural. Australia has amazing produce, seafood and meat, the overall knowledge just help us understand the quality of ingredients better.

3-(Scoffier) Frej is a pop-up concept, the goal is to open a permanent restaurant?

FBerselius/RKuo- Our goal was always to open a restaurant but when things didn’t work out as planned this approach was the second best. We planned for a restaurant and adapted Frej to being a food concept within an existing space. We wanted to look at it as a collaboration with a space or bar until we found our own place. People soon started calling it a pop up because we did not know how long we would exist there.

4-(Scoffier) I had the chance to do several interviews with excellent chefs for two years, and most have made a stint in New York but they left to open their restaurant in their country… Why New York, what do you like?

FBerselius/RKuo- Its hard not to fall in love with NYC. There are so many great things about this place but eventually it always seem to turn into a love hate relationship. So many good things out weigh the bad stuff but working in NYC can be hard and tiring. You very likely work very long days, don’t do much other than work and sleep and when you want a vacation you quit your job :). European chefs are often here on a visa that is difficult to renew. I worked with so many great people who left NY not liking it very much, totally burned out, just to come back a few months later visiting.. and wanting to move back.

5-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

FBerselius/RKuo- There are so many flavors from child hood. I miss things like wild strawberries and milk in the summer or a house that smell of baked bread. Or simply being able to pick mushrooms or go fishing a few minutes from your house.

6-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires your cuisine?

FBerselius/RKuo- There are so many people who inspire us. I don’t have that there is one mentor out there but there are always memories of those moments when a chef tell you something.. and it gets stuck in your head. So every time you peel your carrot you or chuck on oyster you can hear your chef standing behind you saying them words again. Many of the the people who have influenced us are just amazing cooks we have worked with in other restaurants.

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop your recipes for your menu? What are your source(s) of inspiration ?

FBerselius/RKuo- Dishes normally grow over a period of time but we also try and change menu often enough to keep ourselves motivated. Our food start out simple with a look at whats around us, in the garden or market or in the wild. There is always an idea of what will be available at a certain time a year so we plan around that. Then there are cases where we buy a whole animal and you have to figure out what to do with all the parts. A dish can grow from a memory of food or memory of an experience or just trying to figure out an ingredient or animal part.

8-(Scoffier) Some describe your cuisine like “Nordic cuisine”, is this possible in New York?

FBerselius/RKuo- Because we want to work with local ingredients and because we believe there are so many similarities between New York and the areas north of New York and Sweden, having a scandinavian approach was the most natural thing to do.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Frej?

FBerselius/RKuo-Recipe: Sunchoke, pear, hazelnut, beef liver.

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef and for your restaurant?

FBerselius/RKuo- We want to try and push Frej forward. We want to do everything better everyday. Building better relationships with our suppliers and people we work with help. We are working on new plates with our pottery lady Jane Herold.
We are finding better and fresher fish with our fish lady. We are making little steps but trying to make them in the right direction.

RECIPE: Sunchoke, Pear, Hazelnut, Beef liver (no photo for this recipe)

INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS

-2 Kg sunchokes

-500g beef liver

-115g shallot, sliced

-25g sugar

-40g apple cider vinegar

-Thyme

-Salt

-200g veal stock

-150g pork stock

-30g butter

-Oil for cooking

-2 Bosc pear

-200 g Elderflower vinegar

-100 g Sugar

-300 gwater

-Fresh hazelnuts

-Hazelnut oil

Sunchokes:

1. Scrub and wash sunchokes. Peel skin into big strips and keep in ice water.

2. Place flesh in bag with oil and season. Cook in bag at 93 celcius until tender. Puree and check seasoning.

3. Blanch skin in salted water until translucent. Shock in ice bath. Dry skin in dehydrator for 5 hours or overnight. Toss with hazelnut oil and salt.

Beef liver:

1. Clean liver and dice into 2 cm cubes. Sear in hot pan in oil until you get color, transfer liver to cold tray and chill. In the same pan add shallot and butter and cook until soft. Add sugar and thyme and let caramelize lightly.

2. Deglaze with vinegar and stock (Reduce by 1/3).

3. Cool cooking liquid to room temp and mix with cool liver at full speed until sauce consistency.

4. Pass through a fine sieve and season. Keep sauce at 54 celcius.

Pear:

1. Peel pear. Slice pear 2 mm thick slices and cut with a small ring cutter. Bring sugarand water to a boil and add vinegar. Pour over pear and let cool. Cover and let sit for at least one week.

Hazelnut:

1. Clean hazelnut of skin and blacken them lightly with a torch. Season with hazelnut oil and salt.

Serve:

Arrange proportionate amounts of sunchoke puree and sauce to pear and hazelnut on plate. Add skin and thyme. Finish with hazelnut oil.

FURTHER INFORMATION

FREJ (inside Kinfolk)/Chef (s) Fredrik Berselius+Richard Kuo

90 Wythe Ave (North 11 street)

Brooklyn/NYC

New York

PRESS

1. NY Times (Review by Peter Wells), May 8, 2012

2.Eater interview (by Gabe Ulla), April 6, 2012

NOTE: Copyright for the photo ©Frej.

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier ©2008-2012</p

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Chef Jesse Schenker/©RecetteRestaurant

THE ÉLECTRONS LIBRES TAKE -2–AMERICAN CHEF : JESSE SCHENKER

The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search. 

After presenting two American chefs (Moore, Bilet) opposite each other, here a young chef of 27 years native of Florida but who choose New York City to pursue his passion. In January 2010, Jesse Schenker decided to open his own restaurant, RECETTE, from his concept Recette Private Dining (Superior dining out of the restaurant).

Beyond the fashion and trends, Schenker creates an American cuisine with strong French roots (and refined culinary techniques). A high level of creative cuisine despite his air of comfort food. This cozy restaurant became one of the best places for a great dinner in NYC. For both critics and lovers of good food.

A Chef and a cuisine on the rise, not to mention his excellent Pastry chef Christina Lee (former Per Se).

 

Q+A WITH JESSE SCHENKER (http://www.recettenyc.com/):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine at RECETTE and what is it main characteristics?

JSchenker- Recette is an urban, contemporary American restaurant located in New York’s Greenwich Village, which opened its doors in January 2010. Recette features a menu of contemporary American snacks and plates which feature seasonal ingredients manipulated with classical technique. 

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable? 

JSchenker- From my childhood, I remember eating a lot of home cooked meats and stews. I have early memories of cooking with my grandmother, helping her prepare fresh vegetables and making soup.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?  

JSchenker- I love uni, salt, olive oil and sherry vinegar. I don’t really have a favorite ingredient. I  love salty and acidic foods.

Interior/©RecetteRestaurant

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

JSchenker- I am always reading about what other chefs are doing in NYC and around the world. I learn something new from everyone.  

5-(Scoffier) I know that the chef Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance, Paris) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. Do you have the chance to spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces? (Your relation with your suppliers…)

JSchenker- I am very particular about my produce- I wish I had more time to spend at a market, but these days, I do not. I am very specific with my suppliers and have a great relationship with them. They know how particular I am about freshness, so they only send me the best. 

6-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at RECETTE?

JSchenker- I sit downstairs and do research when I get sick of seeing the same dish on the menu night after night. I have this great book called Culinary Artistry. I’ll read through that and make a list of fall ingredients and call my vendors to see what’s available and when.

7-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from new technology (sous-vide etc.) in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?

JSchenker- I do own multiple immersion circulators and I have been really into the ISI cream chargers lately. Carbonating things. But for the most part, I like doing things very simply, just with perfect execution and fresh product.

8-(Scoffier) Actually, New York is a great city for the gastronomy but what are the good things and less good sides of New York for a Chef and a restaurant?

JSchenker- The good thing is that I love what I do. I love everything about being a chef and owning and operating a restaurant.  I thrive on the multiple day to day madness and challenges, and there’s always something that must be done.  It’s constant, and that is why it is great being in New York. It’s very competitive, so you always have to keep moving forward.  So, in the same sense, it can be a negative thing, because at times, it can feel very daunting.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Jesse Schenker and RECETTE? 

JSchenker- One of the signature dishes at Recette is the Berkshire Pork Belly with Rock Shrimp, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel:

It has been on the menu since we opened.  The Berkshire pork belly is braised and cooked slowly in a sherry caramel sauce, with a classic Spanish romesco sauce and rock shrimp. In regards to the steps of concept to execution of this dish, a lot of it has to do with what I read, or what I go to eat: I get inspired by things. For the pork belly with rock shrimp, I love the flavors of Spain and had an idea to do pork and seafood. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, so I asked myself, what’s the best-tasting pork? So I went to pork belly. With the sauce, instead of doing something completely sweet, I wanted a vinegar, and used sherry in the caramel sauce. When I went to Morimoto, I loved the tempura battered rock shrimp with ranch dressing. [For the pork belly] I wanted to do langoustines, but they’re soft and I didn’t want to ruin their integrity by frying them, so decided to do rock shrimp instead. And then I took some bitter local turnips and roasted them for caramelization, and liked the nutty texture of the romesco sauce, which uses Marcona almonds. The piquillo peppers gave [the romesco] a very bold flavor.

10-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?

JSchenker- A personal goal of mine is to earn a Michelin star. And I eventually would like to open a larger restaurant with my dream kitchen.  

11-(Scoffier) For my personal curiosity, I have read that you have a collection of cookbooks, do you have a favorite book or one who influenced you strongly?

JSchenker-

1. Culinary Artistry; it’s just a great tool for flavor combinations and seasonal ingredients. It always helps spark my creative process.

2. Escoffier, Art of Modern Cookery - I love reinterpreting some of his recipes.

3. Jacques Pepin, La Technique - nobody should ever go to culinary school- just buy this book and do what he says cover to cover, again and again.

 

RECIPE: Pork Belly with Rock Shrimp, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 

 

PorkBelly/©RecetteRestaurant

 

 

Ingredients & Progression Recipe

-3lbs. boneless, skinless pork belly

-1 granny smith apple

-1 cup clover honey

-1 bunch fresh thyme

-1 garlic clove

-1/2 onion

-1 1/2 cups dry white wine

-2 sticks celery, rough chopped

-1 large carrot, rough chopped

-kosher salt

Sherry Caramel:

-2 1/2 cups sherry vinegar

-1 tbs cardamom

-1 tbs black peppercorn

-1 tbs fennel seed

-1 tbs coriander

-2 bay leaves

-1 clove garlic

-1 cup granulated sugar

-kosher salt

Romesco:

-1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

-1 8 oz. can of good peeled tomatoes

-1 8 oz. can of high quality Spanish piquillo peppers

-1 clove garlic

-1 shallot

-1/2 cup of peeled and toasted almonds

-1/4 cup of toasted breadcrumbs

-1/2 sherry vinegar

-kosher salt

-1/2 cup pitted Spanish olives

-1 bunch chopped parsley or cilantro

1. Porkbelly:

Season aggressively with kosher salt on both sides and place in roasted pan.

Add all chopped vegetables, herbs, garlic, honey, white wine and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 275 degrees for 4-5 hours.

2. Sherry Caramel:

Add sugar and vinegar in saucepot.

Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Add all spices and herbs.

Re-reduce for additional 10 minutes.

Add a pinch of salt.

Strain sauce.

3. Romesco:

Heat up olive oil in deep sauce pot.

Add garlic and shallots; sweat for 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and piquillo peppers; simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat.

Add olives, almonds, vinegar.

Mix together and season with salt, add herbs.  Let cool. 

4. Assembly:

Glaze Pork Belly with Carmel Sauce, Serve aside Romesco sauce on large plate.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION:        

-Recette/Chef Jesse Schenker

328 West 12th Street

New York, NY 10 014

www.recettenyc.com

 

Review(s):

 1. Best New Chef 2010 by Adam Platt, New York Magazine, December 26 , 2010, http://nymag.com/restaurants/wheretoeat/2011/70264/

2. Best Dishes of 2010 by Sam Sifton, NY Times, December 28, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/29/dining/29year.html

3. Review by Sam Sifton, NY Times, March 30, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/dining/reviews/31rest.html?pagewanted=all

 

Tous droits réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2011

 

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