Three chef icons from around the world collaborate for a cookbook release event, while creating a bigger picture of culinary fusion.
By Joanne Raymond
America is deemed “The Melting Pot” due to our openness and united interest in learning about other cultures or accepting those cultures. A variety of languages, fashions and religions constantly surround us daily. We have adopted so many pieces of cuisines from other countries that we have created a beautiful fusion with our own dishes. Mexican and Asian cuisines are now referred to as Tex-Mex and Italian food has become a part of the American culture. The cuisine fusion has also been encouraged by chefs from different areas of the globe coming together and presenting their dishes to hungry foodies under one roof.
This fall, a similar event took place at the ever-stylish and posh Parisian patisserie, Rose Bakery, inside Dover Street Market, where three chefs from varying backgrounds gathered together in one kitchen to cook their own familiar meals. Rose Bakery introduced an assortment of flavors by Chad Robertson, who offers his talent at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, Christian F. Puglisi from Relae and Manfreds in Copenhagen and Matthew Lodes, who spends most of his time in Rose Bakery’s modern kitchen in New York.
Professionals and friends joined each other at the Parisian setting to taste what I would consider the most interesting fusion of chefs yet. From onion noodles with duck confit to Danish blue cheese with acidic herbs, the dishes could not disappoint. Among those curious individuals was yours truly, sitting impatiently, munching on a basket of endless naturally leavened, long fermented bread, placed directly in front of us, so that we feasted continuously as the evening went on, while we sipped on our glasses of incessant red or white wine. The American way of eating has greatly transformed, and our culture has focused our attentions on more “important” areas such as our work, where we tend to shy away in our cubicles and consume microwaved left-overs from home or frozen pasta that was hidden in the back of the freezer for weeks. However, when it comes to gathering together and having a taste of a blend of cuisines, we are not opposed to sitting cafeteria-style among strangers and discussing the familiar or unfamiliar flavors bursting on our tastebuds.
The event resembled a refined, carefully executed, Sunday dinner potluck, except the festivity took place on a rainy Thursday evening. The rain is a mindless condition when one is devouring roasted duck with sol sauce, planted on a bed of greens, or indulging in crushed potatoes with dried black olives and smooth buttermilk. One can almost imagine himself falling from a high mountain range in a buttermilk waterfall, hands sprawled in the air, eyes shut and mouth spread from left to right, smiling profusely. It was with uttermost excitement that I tried for the first time Manfred’s beef tartar, which was served with peppery cress and a creamy egg emulsion. I broke my beef tartar virginity as I chewed my way across spoonfuls of raw, however quite ambrosial, tastings of beef, accompanied with more bites of bread and washed down with more sips of wine. If we are not prohibited from mentioning favorite dishes, I will happily hand the spotlight to pastry chef Matthew Lodes’ pear dumpling with a toasted walnut parfait and frozen chocolate powder. This is not solely credited to my abiding love for desserts but for its delicate presentation and refreshing finish. A dessert mildly sugary enough to satisfy a sweet tooth yet not so overbearing as to emulate a candy treat.
The evening came to a close with our choice of Earl Grey or Sencha tea or coffee to digest our pleasantly filled stomachs and inquisitive bellies. Handshakes with newly-formed acquaintances and hugs from developing friendships, the stylish environment filled with content faces as exits were being made. The rest sat, fully in conversation, discussing the next opportunity for culture-raged creatures such as ourselves to gather once again at a table and lavishly enjoy meals from chefs collaborating and celebrating their intercontinental friendship in one setting. And so I wait, encouraged and with eager anticipation, for more international culinary icons — with exclusive credit and congratulations to chefs Robertson, Puglisi and Lodes — to collaborate in celebration of any event, and share their cuisines, as our hungry melting pot desperately depends on it.