In the midst of all the brainstorming, freak outs, and preparations to get the menu planned for the CRA benefit pop-up dinner, I realized something. There is nothing truly “new” in food.
Now, you could say there are groundbreaking chefs that create food that you have never seen before, but I guarantee it has already been done, in some way, in some form.
We (CRUX) were working on a dish that started as a simple green tea shooter. Nothing really out of the ordinary I suppose, other than the fact that the tea, in this tasting menu, came at the beginning of the meal. It started with just the idea that the astringency of the green tea should give you that tooth-etching, I-just-washed-my-mouth-out, palate-cleansing effect. That was the idea…
A couple of nights ago, around 2am, when I found myself perusing everything I could find on the Internet about tea, I ran into Dave Beran via Facebook chat and congratulated him on Next’s new Thai-inspired menu. The conversation continued and eventually he sent me a link to “everything is a remix”.
Immediately my view on originality had changed, as I’m sure yours will, too. And with that, I thought: “How about we rip off every chef that we respect the most in one dish?”. And then this happened…
Green Tea (Heston Blumenthal), Fisherman’s Friend (Paul Liebrandt), Tobacco (Grant Achatz), Hay (Rene Redzepi)
This one was easy. Heston’s play on hot and cold tea is a dish that anyone reading this blog probably already knows. We just took it one step further. Our hot side is Matcha, and our cold side is Chinese Royal Jasmine. To sweeten the floral side up a bit, we infused simple syrup with some hay (that we picked up down the street from a police trailer imprisoning some pretty horses). Thank you, Rare Tea Cellar, and thank you, Chicago Police Department.
In watching “A Matter Of Taste,” the HBO documentary about Paul Liebrandt, I remembered he spoke about an amuse of Fisherman’s Friend. What he did with this, I don’t know. But we will take the elements of this lozenge (eucalyptus, licorice, and menthol) and place them individually next to the cup for an aromatic accoutrement.
Don’t shriek. It wont give you cancer to eat a small amount of a liquid, infused with the spicy, robust, and deliciously sun-dried leaf of the south, and later set with pectin and frozen to make a chewy little ice cube garnish for our cold side of the dish. In my opinion, the tobacco and blackberry dish served at Alinea may be the smartest, tastiest, and daring thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Please, no jokes.
Now I have to admit, this was already in the dish before we took it to the new level of “let steal everyone else’s shit.” But it just made sense. Hay is grass. Grass is natural. Redzepi is the godfather of all things earth-like.
(No image. That would be incriminating.)
I believe it was Picasso who said, “Good artists copy, other artists steal.” So with that, we look forward to serving one dish that embodies our four favorite chefs on August 19th.
All Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on the imagae.