Gracious Gourmand guest chef photos: part one

Last week I was honored to be a guest chef at the inaugural Gracious Gourmand dinner, organized by cutie-pie Joshua Katcher (I mean seriously, he is adorable, and you know it.). It took a lot out of me to cook a super fancy dinner for 30 people (then tote everything to Brooklyn and serve it in a kitchen I’d never worked in before with one tiny burner!), but I had an amazing team working with me: my BFF/sous chef extraordinaire Maresa Volante, and my BFF/life partner [so dorky, but if I said “partner,” you’d think he’s my business partner, and though some times it feels that way, I feel the need to tell you that we have also shared a bed for 13 years.] Jacob Jon Minor Feinberg-Pyne (what a name, I know).

Maresa is a pastry chef who’s collaborated with me before, but I’d never actually worked in a kitchen with Jacob—except for those long nights when he comes to my commercial kitchen to help wash dishes or sweep up, because he’s sweet like that. Technically Jacob is a sound engineer/tour manager who tours around the world with indie rock bands, which means that he eats out a lot. He has been to pretty much every vegan restaurant in these United States, and most abroad. Thus, even though he’s not a trained chef, his dining experiences, along with my constant nattering on about foodie topics, have given him a great ear for food. (That sounded weird, but you get the idea.)

The point is, it was amazing to work so closely with all three of them, and I look forward to many more foodie collaborations in the future!

Now let’s look at photos. Here are most of them, then around Friday I’ll post some just of the tomato aspic dish, because it really deserves its own post.

Oh, and you can see yet more photos over at Joshua’s blog here.

First of all, here’s the menu. We printed it out on brown kraft paper, and it was so rustic chic.

Gracious Gourmand Menu

Scalloped corn with cashew cream sauce and tarragon. OK, technically scalloped dishes shouldn't have breadcrumbs, I know! It's really a corn gratin! But I like "scalloped" better.

tomato aspic with tomato powder and smoked Kauai guava sea salt. More to come on this one in the next post!

let's get those salads out!!

Beet + watermelon + heirloom tomato + dr. cow tree nut cheese + kalamata olive vinaigrette!

making orecchiette ("little ears"!)


Homemade orecchiette with garlic & oil sauce, slow-cooked eggplant, white bean cream sauce, and pan-fried squash blossoms stuffed with eggplant caviar.

This entree was just a big giant plate of umami: smoky eggplant, homey pasta, nice fried-up squash blossoms–yum!

Squash blossoms from the organic farm across the street from my house, Taliaferro Farms.

Can I just brag a little here that *everything* in this meal—from the flour to the flowers—was organic + mostly local? August is an amazing time to be a chef in New York, what can I say.

Little gels made from fruit purees (blackberry and lavender, nectarine, peach and a flavor I've weird...peach and....? something awesome.) + coconut cream bursting with vanilla beans + gooseberries + pine nut/rosemary cookies with strawberry frosting.

Basil-infused corn truffles made with olive oil ganache and dusted with corn powder!

And there were drinks! Made with organic vodka!

6 thoughts on “Gracious Gourmand guest chef photos: part one

  1. Wow, wow, wow! Everything is always amazing, but it looks like you totally outdid yourself on this one. The plating is incredible. And you look so in your element, too!

    I love that you put J to work!

    In the first picture of the orecchiette, the dough that’s cut but unshaped looks like earplugs (the kind you pinch to put in your ears), and it’s freaking me out a little.

  2. I scrolled down this post cheering and smiling as things were getting more and more incredible (ridiculous!) and then at the bottom the google ad telling me that I can learn more about “high fructose corn syrup, a simply one of a kind corn sugar at” So is that what makes your food taste so good?
    Your creativity and talent inspire me. You’re obliterating misconceptions about the potential of vegan cuisine one amazing plate at a time.
    Real jealous of those 30 people…

    • HA! You know, on my other blog (shhhh) I paid like $25 to get rid of those annoying ads once and for all, I guess I should do the same thing here.

      Thanks for the kudos! : )

  3. Pingback: exhausted by eating: No More Store, day 26 « resistance is fertile

  4. Pingback: Savory dinner series; Shojin Ryori Menu | Lagusta's Luscious!

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