It has been a long long time since i have been in a position that I thought I had enough influence on the menu and menu changes to continue this blog. This blog has help make me the Chef that I am today. In the early days of the blog I had no idea what I was doing but, I kept on trying new techniques and flavor combinations. Studying the best chefs in the world to get inspiration while still trying to be true to myself. Now I have gotten to the point where I can create dishes without the direct inspiration from “Classic” dishes or famous chefs, understanding the science of the cuisine, and of modern cooking overall have made it so much more interesting for me on a daily basis. Always asking myself, Why does the scallop flame up when put into a smoking hot pan (the scallop is mainly water and the water evaporates and when the hydrogen and oxygen separate into gas the extreme heat from the burner catches them aflame, as well as the oil evaporating with it), When should I add the acid to this puree, or sauce, do i want it to be on the front of the palate or the back to clear rich fatty flavors. These are things that keep me pushing forward in order to make the best food possible (I mean that is the point isnt it).
The old posts can still be found under the archives page, they are in one long blog roll (at the moment that I blogged this post not all of them can be seen I have to copy and paste at least a hundred more) because I wanted to present this new chapter in my career from a fresh start. I do like to look back at what I thought was really cool food, usually having a good laugh at myself but, still seeing what was my vision.
Recently I have moved to Miami to work at Azul in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. From the last time you heard of me I moved to Chicago to work at Alinea. It was not for me so after five weeks left to open up the Three Michelin Star L2O under Chef Laurent Gras, I was there a year and half. I left L2O for the One Michelin Start BOKA as Pastry Sous Chef just for a few months. Then there was and opportunity to open EPIC I was the Executive Sous Chef and in 2010 we were named on of Esquire Magazines Best New Restaurants. Moving Forward here is the first dish I got on the menu at Azul.
(The Chef de Cuisine is Joel Huff and the Assistant Chef de Cuisine is Jacob Anaya)
The first dish that Joel asked me to work on was the octopus. It was already being smoked and paired with madras curry and since I did not have all day to work on it I changed it one component at a time and in about a week and half we had a dish. It did transform continuously until it is now finalized. The citrus component was originally marinated kumquat (which in florida are very acidic and not too bitter) to, marinated orange, to now marinated grapefruit. The whole dish is controlling the flavors of bitterness, which when it comes to seafood octopus is one of the more “bitter” proteins.
I like to plate naturally I do not believe that a plate needs to look exactly the same every time that you put it up. That is what Mcdonalds does, same thing over and over, I want the cooks that are plating these dish to be inspired by each and every component. The dish should look like it is growing out of the the plate. Organic. Not produced.
Sous Vide Spanish Octopus, Cauliflower-Vadouvan Puree, Brown Butter Babbaganoush, Squid Ink
Spanish Octopus, Scrubbed in salt then seasoned with madras curry powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and vadouvan. Then sous vide at 65C for 12-14 hr. with bruleed leek, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Aromatics including white pepper, coriander seed, crushed red pepper, rosemary, and thyme immersed in olive oil
Burnt Eggplant and brown butter babbaganoush. The outer parts including the skin of the eggplant are burnt in an iron skillet pan and pureed. Then mixed with a brown butter and onion confit mayonaisse.
Cauliflower and Vadouvan puree thickened with tapioca starch
Crisped eggplant skin, and cauliflower greens
Preserved Meyer lemon bruinoise
Grapefruit segments marinated with the same spices as the octopus
Hibiscus leaves (nice bite and acidity)
Squid Ink and Pedro Ximenez Vinaigrette