Chef and Menu Report: Week of 7/20/14

Every week, we take a look at some new chefs and menus that have been announced across the country and around the world

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

This October, Eataly New York will host the fifth edition of Identitá New York, while Eataly in Chicago will be the site of the city’s first Italian Food & Wine Festival.

During August and September, the rare matsutake mushroom blooms in the forests of Bhutan. This highly sought-after variety is known for its spicy flavor and pungent smell, and is the most expensive mushroom in the world, often priced over $1,000 per pound. From August 10 until September 20, guests can experience a curated three-course lunch tasting menu ($60) and four-course dinner tasting menu ($95) celebrating the matsutake at Uma by COMO, Paro in the Paro Valley of Bhutan. Created by Uma Paro’s Executive Chef, Dewa Wijaya, the menus feature Bhutanese and Japanese dishes, including miso-marinated trout with matsutake mushroom tempura, and a dessert of apple, almond, and matsutake crumb cake with ginger ice cream.

Julia Child would have turned 102 on August 15, and so in celebration of the famous chef’s birthday, Cambridge’s The Blue Room is featuring dishes from her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, on their brunch menu. Recipes such as oeufs en cocotte, galettes au fromage, boeuf à la Bourguignonne, tomates à la Provençale, are just some of the items offered. While living in the neighborhood, Julia would dine at the restaurant often, telling owner Nick Zappia, "I love The Blue Room because it smells like a restaurant." Sunday brunch is $27 per person and is served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

New York
Former PUBLIC chef de cuisine Kevin Chojnowski has joined the South Chelsea restaurant Willow Road as the new executive chef. Chef Chojnowski spent nearly three years at the NoLita staple, during which time it earned two consecutive Michelin stars. At Willow Road, Chojnowski is serving a modern American menu that includes dishes such as yellow peaches, arugula, ricotta salata, and vincotto; squid ink spaghettini with smoked tomato, sea urchin, and cherry pepper; braised octopus with watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, red harissa, and pistachios; and beef shank and bone marrow tamale with tomatillo salsa. Chef Chojnowski's menu pairs with the seasonal cocktail offerings, such as the Willow Fresca with chandon blanc de noirs, Fords gin, and peach tincture, and the Woke Up in Tijuana made with tequila, mezcal, fresh corn, basil, serrano chili, and agave.

International culinary organization Identitá Golose will highlight the best of contemporary Italian cuisine in the fifth annual Identitá New York, this October 9 through 12. This year, Identitá New York will unite seven of Italy’s most notable chefs with seven of the most celebrated local culinary personalities for a series of seminars. These hour-long events will be staged at La Scuola Grande in Eataly, and during each demo, one Italian and one American chef will discuss today’s global culinary trends and techniques, and prepare dishes that best represent their topics. Guests can sample dishes from each chef while sipping Italian wines. Tickets for the seminars are available on the Eataly website for $125 each.

In addition, Identitá New York will host two five-course dinners by eight internationally acclaimed Italian and New York chefs at La Birreria in Eataly. Chefs Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali will each lead a culinary team, serving guests a communal dining experience that will showcase progressive Italian dishes and wine pairings. The dinner is $190 per seat, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Food Bank for New York City. Guests may also reserve their tickets for the dinners on the Eataly website.

Chef David Santos of Louro is collaborating for one night only with Sun Noodle on Monday August 4 as part of his Monday night Nossa Mesa supper club. Santos has teamed up with the famed suppliers of the city top ramen restaurants, including Ivan Orkin and Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Sun’s chef Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura, to create a dinner that highlights ramen and sustainable seafood. Shima-Aji (striped jack) ramen nigiri sushi from Sun Noodle’s chef Nakamura will begin the tasting, followed by Santos’ cavala tartare. Cavala is a sustainable Brazilian fish that the chef accompanies with spiced kiwi marmalade, cucumber, and ramen crumble. Then, a summer chilled ramen with kanpachi from Sun will follow. Santos and Nakamura will collaborate on a slider with panko crusted shrimp cake, Iberico ham vinegar marinated ostrich egg, pickled vegetables, and nori. For the savory finale, Santos’ ramen will be surf-and-turf-style, with seafood and pulled pork shoulder from St. Canut Farms in Quebec. Louro’s roasted corn ice cream with pecan butter, johnnycakes, and caramel will be dessert. The full menu ($55) will also include a glass of two complimentary sakes: Nanbu Bijin Brewery’s umeshu sake, and an extended-fermentation Tengumai yamahai sake from Shata Shuzo Brewery. The pop-up is BYO beer and wine, though Louro’s bar will also be open. Reservations are taken every hour at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. at 212-206-0606.

With an ever-increasing demand for locally sourced beer, Del Frisco’s Grille is partnering with local Captain Lawrence Brewing of Elmsford, NY, to offer an inaugural beer-pairing dinner this Monday, July 28 at 6 p.m. Executive chef Greg Lombardi, along with the Captain Lawrence team, will lead guests through five courses and selected beer pairings. The menu features beer-battered soft shell crab paired with the Liquid Gold Belgian brew, and braised pork belly with choucroute and apple cider gastrique, paired with the Sun Block wheat beer.

Chef and restaurateur Gaurav Anand, of the 2 Michelin star Moti Mahal Delux, has recently opened a new Indian food restaurant, Awadh, on the Upper West Side. This weekend, chef Anand launched Awadh’s brunch menu, focusing on unlimited refills of his refined northern Indian cuisine. The three-course menu starts with traditional house-baked crispy lentil flour papadum with onion, tamarind and cilantro relishes made in house, and also includes two appetizers and two entrées with a vegetarian, meat, and seafood option, dal of the day, yogurt served with rice and naan bread, and followed by dessert, with refills of any food item, all for just $16. Brunch specials will change weekly and include egg dishes, as well as other Indian (non-egg) dishes. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day is coming up on August 2, and Magnolia Bakery will celebrate with the announcement of three brand new ice cream sandwiches, which will be sold in all five of their New York City stores beginning Friday, August 1 for $6.50 each. The three flavors are: oatmeal raisin cookies with Ronnybrook's Hudson Valley vanilla ice cream, swirled with blueberries; devil's food whoopie pie filled with Ronnybrook's Hudson Valley vanilla ice cream, swirled with strawberries; and salted caramel chocolate chunk cookies filled with Ronnybrook's Hudson Valley vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel.

The East Village outpost of Miss Lily's 7A is now serving jerk ramen every Monday night, which will also be available as a dinner special throughout the week while supplies last. Chef Adam Schop’s inventive take on classic ramen features traditional Caribbean ingredients like jerk chicken, jerk pork belly, shoyu-marinated ackee, egg, and fermented scotch bonnet paste in a clear jerk broth.

This past week, Bouchon Bakery launched a new ice cream flavor: hazelnut praline crunch. It’s comprised of Michel Cluizel milk and dark chocolate pralines that are 38 percent and 62 percent cocoa respectively, as well as Michel Cluizel hazelnut praline for an added crunch, only available while supplies last.

Bodega Negra Café began its new special, Taco Tuesday, this week. Buy one set of tacos, get the second set of equal of lesser value for free, every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. until close. Varieties include chorizo and grilled octopus, chicken pibil, and pork belly carnitas, among others.

Miami Beach
On Tuesday, August 5th, a number of local restaurants will offer special menus and dishes in celebration of National Oyster Day:

Meat Market will run their bar Happy Hour all day long featuring $1.50 Blue Point oysters and $6 drunken oyster shooters with Hangar One Vodka, cilantro, tomato, jalapeño, and a truffle salt rim. Also available are a variety of individual oysters for $3.50, including Belon, Old Salt, and others, served with yuzu truffle mignonette, atomic horseradish, or habanero cocktail sauce.

Seafood hotspot Lure Fishbar is offering oyster-themed specials including the $15 oyster po’boy featuring crispy Blue Point oysters, a mini onion brioche, fig and jicama slaw, and whole grain mustard aioli, served two mini po’boys to an order. Also on the menu is a champagne and oyster special which will allow guests to enjoy a bottle of Baumard Crémant with a dozen oysters for $100.

Devon Seafood + Steak toasts National Oyster Day with a special Happy Hour during which guests can enjoy Devon’s One Buck Shuck, a daily selection of oysters on the half shell for just $1 each from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hand-picked by executive chef Scott Barrow, an array of 16 different types of east and west coast oysters will be featured.

Andrew Carmellini’s critically-acclaimed restaurant, The Dutch, will offer signature little oyster sandwiches of cornmeal-dusted and fried oysters served on slider-size sesame brioche buns with pickled okra sauce for $5 each. Also on the menu is a selection of east and west varietals available at the raw bar, including Blue Point, Duxbury, Kusshi, and Wianno.

Located at the Icon Brickell, guests of traditional Mexican eatery Cantina La Veinte can indulge in the restaurant’s popular oyster dish ostiones rasurados, which is Mexican-style oysters served raw with maggi-lime caviar and chopped red onion.

AQ by Acqualina chef Dewey LoSasso will be serving the restaurant’s signature oysters in a Guinness and Pale Ale Mignonette, a half dozen running for $18 and a full dozen for $30. For the special oyster celebration, chef LoSasso will be making oysters with charred pepper granita and Minus 8 drizzle, topped with pink peppercorn dust, as well as oyster shots with smoky mango served with a shot of Schnebly sparkling lychee wine.

The River Seafood & Oyster Bar, serving sustainable, locally-sourced organic cuisine with a focus on seafood, will be joining the celebration with their popular fire roasted oysters served with ancho, sofrito butter, queso Manchego, and chorizo for $12. Guests can also toast National Oyster Day at the bar during Happy Hour from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and choose from a variety of different types of hand-shucked oysters for half price along with drink specials.

Located in Miami’s Design District, Oak Tavern be celebrating with their signature iced oysters for $2.75 each or $15 for a half dozen. Guest can also partake in hand-shucked oysters for half price during their popular Happy Hour special from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Khong River House has launched a weekend brunch menu with a selection classic brunch favorites with an Asian twist. Guests can enjoy chose from dishes such as the coconut sesame pancakes topped with brûléed banana and pineapple, finished with a coconut rum glaze; the Moo Shu breakfast wrap, made of scrambled eggs with ground pork and shrimp, served with a Chinese cucumber salad; or the beef short rib omelet, with wok-fried short rib, potato, bell pepper, and cilantro, served with a Thai Boran salad. House favorites, such as the Khong Fried Chicken, which is coated with a honey-lime marinade and served with mango slaw; or traditional noodle and curry entrees such as the Laotian drunken rice noodles that are tossed with chili and Thai holy basil, are also included. To complement the flavorful brunch fare, guests can cleanse their palates with an assortment of fresh juices, made-to-order Panther coffee, or enjoy bottomless cocktails priced at $19.99 in spirit of the Thai lucky number 9, with choice of spicy Thai bloody Mary, classic bloody Mary, mango Bellini, or classic mimosa.

Los Angeles
On Tuesday, July 29 from 5 to 11 p.m., Saint Martha is offering a four-course prix-fixe dinner for $64 from executive chef Nick Erven, alongside an optional $27 wine pairing from sommelier and general manager Mary Thompson. Featured dishes will include littleneck clams with Morcilla sausage, sunchoke, and egg; pecan wood-smoked brisket with hoisin, tiny lettuce, and root vegetables; brassicas with toasted brewer’s yeast, mushroom, and egg; and Rieger Farms peaches with almond genoise and wildflower honey ice cream.

Inspired by the Feast of Saint Martha, commemorated annually on July 29, the restaurant will donate a portion of the proceeds from each prix-fixe dinner sold to the KYCC. Established in 1975, KYCC is the leading multiservice non-profit organization in Koreatown with a mission to support children and families within the community in the areas of education, health, housing, and finances.

Just returning from summer break, Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro, Portland, Oregon's celebrated restaurants by two-time James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker, announce they are promoting Le Pigeon lead line cook Andrew Mace to sous chef under chef Rucker, and naming Helen Jo as pastry chef of Little Bird Bistro as Lauren Fortgang’s successor.

A Montana native, Mace grew up in a family that smoked their trout caught fresh from the river, picked wild asparagus, and utilized every part of the deer they hunted, instilling in him a deep appreciation for seasonality and quality ingredients. After graduating from University of Montana with BFA in Digital Design, Mace planned to move to San Francisco, but his car broke down in Portland on the way, so that's where he decided to stay. He also showcases his quickly developed culinary skills at pop-up restaurant Limited Company that he and his girlfriend, Le Pigeon pastry chef Nora Antene, operate in their free time, and that was included in The Oregonian Restaurant of The Year 2014: Pop Ups.

Little Bird Bistro pastry chef Lauren Fortgang is taking maternity leave and has named Helen Jo as her successor. Jo grew up in Chicago and was exposed to diverse cuisine and flavors from a young age, as her father worked with Asian grocery stores. In 2005, Jo moved to New York City to pursue a culinary career, starting at a chocolate boutique and later honing her skills at Eleven Madison Park and Del Posto. She then helped open the Momofuku Milk Bar where she worked for five years before moving to Portland in last year and in 2014, joined the Little Bird team as a pastry assistant.

International culinary organization Identitá Golose debuts the Italian Food & Wine Festival, taking place October 14 to 16. Eataly in Chicago will host the series of carefully curated events, each featuring some of Italy’s culinary heroes, as well as masters of modern American cuisine. For its inaugural year in the Windy City, Identitá Golose will partner with Merano WineFestival to stage the three-day Italian culinary showcase. The Merano WineFestival, founded in 1992 by Helmuth Köcher, is one of the world’s largest wine events, celebrating fine selections of Italian and international wines.

The festival will begin with a four-course dinner that brings together two acclaimed Italian chefs, Ugo Alciati and Davide Oldani, and two of Eataly’s own, executive chef Alex Pilas and pastry chef Katia Delogu, at Baffo at Eataly. Chef Lidia Bastianich will lead the team of culinary luminaries, presenting guests with progressive Italian dishes and wine pairings. The dinner is $150 per person, and guests may reserve their spots for the dinner on the Eataly Chicago website.

The following day, Identitá Golose and the Merano WineFestival will host a tasting event pairing 100 of Italy’s most important wines from 30 of the country’s most acclaimed wineries with bites utilizing Italian products sold at Eataly Chicago’s cooking school, La Scuola. Tickets are $30, and include all wine and food tastings.

Identitá Golose will also present two head-to-head chef demonstrations, each featuring a key ingredient. During each seminar, the chefs will be tasked to create their best dish, the first demonstration using truffles, and the second using rice. The hour-long seminars will take place inside La Scuola, and tickets are priced at $95.

Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.

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