The title of Chef Anita Lo’s class at the New York Culinary Experience pulled no punches – it truly was “The Whole Duck.” In a matter of two hours, we went from butchering a raw duck to creating a three-course meal in a classroom at The French Culinary Institute. Our whole Peking-Mallard (Pallard?) hybrid duck, suitably rich and gamey, became two Asian-inspired dishes and one very simple but elegant salad.
Set out by the culinary school’s students who assisted in the classes, the 20 + ingredients included Chinese black vinegar, whole star anise and green grapes. All of the food and materials are provided by the school, but those in the know bring their own chef's knives. Co-hosted by The FCI and New York Magazine, the Experience offers anyone willing to ante up for a ticket the opportunity to learn from chefs they’ve probably only seen on television or in Food & Wine magazine. That means that people like me who are, let’s say, “home trained” can work alongside celebrated chefs like Alain Ducasse and Laurent Tourondel.
After carefully following Chef Lo’s disappointing loss in the next-to-last episode of Top Chef Masters’ first season, we were curious to see what this serious, thoughtful chef would have us cook up. As she told us in the beginning of the class, eating sustainably means eating the whole animal. She walked us through the butchering (one tip: “let knife do the work”) and suggested ways to use what usually goes to waste, like extra skin around the neck for cracklings and the skinned legs and wings for the pho soup broth.
Here are the threee recipes from Chef Anita Lo's class: