Showing posts from June, 2012

Cobaya "Dunch" with Chef Micah Edelstein

Many people probably think it's just a gimmick that we refer to our Cobaya events as "experiments." But we really do push chefs to push themselves. This is not simply an excuse to trot out the same old dishes in a fixed price, tasting menu format. If there's one "rule," it's that it has to be an off-menu experience.

What diners may not fully appreciate is that oftentimes, this means they're getting a dish that the chef not only has never served before - sometimes they've never even made it before. And since we're rarely working with chefs who have the opportunity or budget to do a full dry run in advance, often these really are experiments of a sort, and the diners really are the guinea pigs.

That was undoubtedly the case with our most recent Cobaya event, a late brunch ("Dunch") with Chef Micah Edelstein of neMesis Urban Bistro in downtown Miami. Which, to me, makes the meal she put together all the more remarkable.

(You can see …

Goes Around ... Comes Around: Spanish Edition

We periodically devote our attention here to the task of tracing how food ideas and trends migrate their way from restaurant to restaurant. As we noted way back when,[1] sometimes the phenomenon is the result of "homage" or "inspiration;" sometimes it's "copying" or "plagiarizing," the lines between which are not always easily drawn. Every once in a while it may actually be a case of genuinely spontaneous independent creation.

Often, what prompts these reveries is the audacity of a chef who claims to have "invented" a dish. Almost invariably, such braggadocio is unwarranted. There is, in fact, very little that is truly new under the sun, and very few culinary creations can legitimately claim to be so completely untethered to what came before as to constitute an "invention."

That apparently doesn't stop Chef Alex Raij: ["Alex Raij on Copycats and Surviving in New York."]

I'll bet I'd really like Chef …

Animal Pizzeria

Not long after Chef Michael Schwartz opened up Harry's Pizzeria, he started putting the space to use for more than just baking pies. In a twist on the "pop-up" genre that is the restaurant industry's latest trend, Schwartz has brought in chefs from around the country to cook for an evening in his little pizza parlor. In November 2011 Harry's held its first pop-up dinner with Gabrielle Hamilton of New York's Prune. Since then, Harry's has played host to a distinguished list of visiting talent: Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri, Jonathon Sawyer, and Kevin Sbraga. Last night, it was chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, of Los Angeles' Animal and Son of a Gun, who took over the restaurant for the night.

Some folks may know Shook and Dotolo from their successful L.A. restaurants. Some may remember back to their short-lived stint on the Food Network with "Two Dudes Catering." Though I didn't know it at the time, I've actually been eating their foo…

Cobaya Carmellini (a/k/a Cobaya Goes Dutch)

We've actually been in talks for this Cobaya dinner since last October, before Chef Andrew Carmellini opened his Miami outpost of The Dutch. Of course, Carmellini has had some other stuff on his plate - opening the Miami restaurant, running Locanda Verde and The Dutch in New York, publishing a new cookbook, "American Flavor," to name a few. But the stars finally aligned last week, when Carmellini and his Miami crew, including Chef de Cuisine Conor Hanlon and Pastry Chef Joshua Gripper, put together a fantastic-looking menu for thirty guinea pigs.

I say fantastic "looking" because, sadly, I had to miss this one due to work-related travel. But I did stop by before the dinner and Chef Carmellini was gracious enough to give me a tour of the kitchen to see what was in progress. The theme carrying through several of these dishes was "The Whole Damn Thing!" - turbot cooked whole (innards and all, if he stuck with the plan as of around 4pm the afternoon of th…