Chef Brian Ellis, executive chef at The Smith and Jane Restaurant, visited The Daily Meal kitchen last night to prepare some menu highlights and other delicious bites. Chef Ellis worked as the chef de cuisine at Jane Restaurant when it first opened in 2003 and was the first executive chef at the first Smith restaurant when it opened in 2007 in the East Village.
Ellis revealed news of a fourth Smith restaurant opening in NoMad, as well as a D.C. location opening this summer. On cooking for guests at live events, Chef Ellis says, “It’s different. I can definitely do a better job at it [because] I never get a chance to. [I]t’s always great to get feedback. Negative, positive — it just keeps me going.”
Chef Ellis showed guests how he prepared the mouthwatering ricotta gnocchi with a white truffle crema topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano during a cooking demonstration while answering questions from guests. His version is made with ricotta cheese instead of potato for a “fluffier” and “doughier” product. The batter is put into a piping bag and cut as the dough is piped out instead of rolling out the gnocchi, “like grandma used to do,” says Chef Ellis. The gnocchi are boiled in salt and water, and after they float to the top they are skimmed off and sautéed in a pan with extra virgin olive oil to give the gnocchi a ‘frico’ texture.
Chef Ellis and team prepared a variety of small bites, several of which appear at his restaurants. Highlights include crab cakes topped with an Alabama sauce and apple chutney; spicy salmon tartare featuring rice cake, Sriracha, and soy caramel; and the tuna poke, served in a spoon with cashews, yuzu, and mango. All fish for the restaurants is caught locally, and oysters are shipped directly from oyster farmers that the restaurants work with. Guests sipped on beverage director of Smith restaurants David Kravitz’s Sicilian Kiss Signature Cocktail, which featured prosecco and blood orange. For dessert, guests enjoyed s’mores in small dessert glasses and Turkey Hill gelato was served at the bar as a special treat.