one plate at a time.

I am honored to report that I have recently been nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Chef Of The Year Award. I am one of twenty eight semifinalists. On March 18th they will announce the finalist. I am excited to find out the outcome! I want to thank the person or people who submitted my name to the James Beard Foundation. I was truly in shock when I read my name on their website. I am proud of our accomplishments at restaurant a(MUSE.). This nomination may have my name on it, but it is a tribute to the hard work of all our dedicated staff.

When I was a young cook, I once told my mentor at the time, Kevin Reading, that I aspired to one day be a regionally great chef. He was very encouraging and stated that anything was possible through hard work. To me, regionally great meant a chef who was known in the mid atlantic for creating an excellent product and developing a style of cuisine that guests would come from surrounding areas and beyond to enjoy. At this point I feel that I am on my way.

With cooking I have never been in competition with anyone but myself. It would be great to be a James Beard Finalist. No matter what happens I will still keep cooking, doing my best  to cook a high level of cuisine one plate at a time.

A look at recent plates at at restaurant a(MUSE.)

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

foie gras

Hudson Valley foie gras with carrots and pine (CS Photo)

jKrMV3i47MuJvqz8FdszfI501emf55-5d4DvXQ7hGGY

In the kitchen (CS Photo)


Nantucket Bay scallops - trout Roe - lardo - potato - fennel

Nantucket Bay scallops – trout Roe – lardo – potato – fennel (CS Photo)

flatiron steak - onion - turnip - hedgehog mushrooms

flatiron steak – onion – turnip – hedgehog mushrooms (CS Photo)

house cured coppa - Cheseapeake gold oyster - oyster mushroom - cedar - sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side.

house cured coppa – Cheseapeake gold oyster – oyster mushroom – cedar – sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side. (instagram picture)

oak creme brûlée -orange curd - bourbon -molasses - shattered caramelized honey gummy - smoked almond

oak creme brûlée -orange curd – bourbon -molasses – shattered caramelized honey gummy – smoked almond (instagram picture)

razor clam - foraged sumac - wintered acorn - spice bush gel

razor clam – foraged sumac – wintered acorn – spice bush gel (instagram)

beach bonfire our version of smores

beach bonfire our version of smores (instagram)

Lobster - beets - horseradish - rose hip vinaigrette

Lobster – beets – horseradish – rose hip vinaigrette. A plate created for a tasting menu. (instagram)

Thanks again for everybody’s love and support.


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How do you eat an Elephant?

The package that I received a few days ago was even more gargantuan than I had imagined. There it was, Modernist Cuisine, the books that I had been dreaming about for a long time. It took my sous chef  and myself to get it to my car, taking turns carrying it from the kitchen. It was back-breaking work. I have to say it is all a little overwhelming. So much to see, explore, and learn.

I plan on tackling it systematically, studying it like a college course. I have taught myself a lot of the knowledge over the years but it is great to have all of the information complied in one not-so compact resource. It took me ten minutes just to get through the layers of tape and cardboard. My Mom says “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time till it’s done.” I agree with her. It is an adventure that I am happy to share with you.

15 dollars a pound? That’s not bad.

The wait is the hardest part.

 

Cookbooks are a big part of my life. I’m usually juggling a few at a time. I get into one, read some of it, digest a few bites. Then I sit, think about it, and go on to the next. The books give me so many things; stimulus, reference, technique, history, art, culture, and last but certainly not least, joy. Each one has something different to offer and I value what the author is sharing with me.

I can remember the first cookbook that had a major impact on my life. I was in 7th grade and there was this fantastic book about french cuisine. It had vivid pictures that were eye-opening to me and are still tattooed into my memory. Pictures of consomme, brunoise vegetables, whole lobster, and all of the different tools that made all of that magic happen. I have always been a visual person and when this book caught my eye and I couldn’t put it down. Food has always been a part of my life, and it was awesome to see a totally different view of it.

We as a society are in a really great place for cookbooks right now and cooking in general. There is such a great information exchange on so many levels. You can read books, blogs, and online articles from around the world anytime that you want to. Everything you need to know is only a few clicks away. Sometimes you have to wait for shipping but in this modern society pretty much everything is accessible.

In the last couple of months so many really good books about cooking have been published, and there are many more exciting releases coming up in the near future. Ideas in food, Noma, Keys to Good Cooking, and Forgotten Skills of Cooking,  just to name a few of them that I enjoyed.

Last year when I found out that Nathan Myhrvold former Chief Technology Officer Microsoft was a writing a cookbook the size of an Encyclopedic Britannica that was filled with high quality photography and information researched by a team of 15 great minds from a warehouse sized food laboratory, I was super stoked. The book’s title was Modernist Cuisine and it took its authors three years to write. The price tag of this “Andre the Giant” sized text is $625.00. The book contains five volumes, plus a waterproof kitchen manual and its own plexiglass case. It took four pounds of ink to print the book. It was a task that no publisher would tackle so Nathan had it printed using the best ingredients he could find in China. Nathan stated that the book was only $15 a pound. That’s not bad, considering if it were a college text-book it would be around the same price if not more and there are no colleges teaching at such a high level of art and science combined at this time.

I was able to pre-order the book from Amazon so the it ended up costing around $460.00. I am anxiously awaiting the books arrival which should be here any day. I can’t wait! When the book arrives I will cook from it and report my findings. When I was in culinary school I was always asking my Chef Instructors why? Sometimes they had the answers, a lot of the time they didn’t. I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about some of the scientific aspects of cooking and I think that this book will help connect the dots. From what I have seen so far the images and graphs look stunning. I think this book will prove valuable for the chef and home cook alike.