As my last days at Palantir were dawning, I didn't want a big send-off or a party to celebrate my departure. I just wanted to cook alongside my beloved team one last time. The perfect opportunity came up when my Pastry Chef, Jenna, suggested we do a chef's table for my family and friends. I've never been able to cook for the people I care most about in a fine-dining format like this, so for me, this was a huge deal.
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Here's a throwback to a Chef's Table Thanksgiving we did in 2012.
Shane Alholm is one of our newest team members. This week, he contributed a tongue pastrami made from grass-fed waygu from True Grass Farms.
This week we embraced the fall season's color and flavors.
korean blt | bulgolgi bacon - bacon powder - cherry tomato - butter lettuce heart
Sometimes I create dishes purely on a certain look that I'm aiming for. I have a picture in my head of how I'd want the dish to look, and then I make it work from a taste and culinary perspective.
dan dan noodles | sichuan spiced oil - iberico broth - jamon - shanghai noodles
"Dan dan" refers to the pole that street vendors originally used to carry the fresh noodles who made this dish popular. This dish tastes different every where I've had it. I like the flavors, but I usually get palate fatigue before I can finish a serving. The best I've had was at Spicy Town in Fremont. It's numbingly spicy, both from the amount of chilies, and the heavy use of sichuan peppercorns. It's intense, it makes you piss sweat and your lips feel as though you've rubbed it on habanero sandpaper, but it's delicious if you can manage the pain.
My version is more subtle. I clarified a broth made from jamon iberico bones and served with a noodle sample from Rice Valley. I made an oil with the same spices found in most Sichuan staples (coriander, garlic, chilies, sichuan peppercorns, cumin), and separated the liquids from the solids, and smeared the latter on the sides so the diners could control the heat at their discretion. Top that with some sliced jamon, and we have some fancied-up dan dan noodles.
raw scallops & coke farms strawberries | sake sherbet - pink peppercorns - fried sesame
This was dish conceived through improvisation of ingredients on hand. One of my favorite pairings is strawberry and pink peppercorn. It just works. The sherbet acts as a chewable dressing for the salad.
hen of the woods | koji marinated chicken - foie - truffle demi - siberian miner's lettuce
The breast was marinated in koji, which is rice inoculated with the bacteria 'aspergillius oryzae.' The same bacteria responsible for the fermentation of sake, soy sauce, miso, and a good majority of the Japanese pantry. If you'd like to learn more, listen to David Chang's lecture at Harvard, where he covers in detail.
king crab | hosui pear - brown butter - hazelnuts
- salmon roe
- flowers from the garden
- pea tendrils & blossoms
- hosui pear : pickled, compressed, sous-vide, sauteed
- pickled hearts of palm
This was very loosely inspired by a dish I had at the French Laundry. They used brown butter and apricot. I've never seen pea blossoms before, and I'm surprised they aren't more popular. The ones we've grown taste amazingly sweet, like a pea, but the texture is soft, instead of snappy.
lobster & asparagus | white asparagus & truffle ice cream - spring vegetables & legumes
We start off with Cecile's sexy salad. It celebrates the emergence of spring, a meet and greet of ingredients local to our coast:
The Chef Team recently went to Gotham to work on the food program. We came back inspired by the restaurants we visited, from Eleven Madison Park, WD-50, to Momofuku Saam Bar. This week Chef's Table is a reflection of this inspiration. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
kumamoto oyster | vichyssoise - creme fraiche - caviar - edible sand
soy panna cotta | sake poached shrimp - salmon roe - passion fruit - wasabi peas - kelp broth
honey-cured duck breast| celery root - truffles - foraged mushrooms - pickled celeriac
frozen root beer float | a sherbert of root beer
milk & cookies | cocoa financia "cup" - malted vanilla milk - dehydrated milk foam - straus milk sphere - butter powder
cognac-aged duck breast | chocolate duck demi - cocoa nibs - baby porcinis - fennel stems - butternut squash puree
The duck was brushed with cognac and lightly seasoned with salt before dry aging for three days in the walk-in. This intensified the duck flavor and tenderized the meat slightly, making it possible to cook the duck a bit more on the rare side.
I've been messing around with fennel stems because I think they're gorgeous, but they were terribly stringy. I found peeling, blanching, and then salting them helps with the texture.
We don't often repeat our dishes, but the edible garden continues to resurface, perhaps because it's so pretty that it's hard not to show it off. We've changed its presentation over time to keep it interesting.
Most of the vegetables are blanched in heavily salted water in a very large pot. You want a large pot to prevent the vegetables you’re adding to the hot water from decreasing the temperature too much. The hotter the water, the quicker vegetables cook, and the greener they stay.
The cromesquis is made of eggs scrambled with gelatin and cream cheese in a thermal mix, heated just enough so that the gelatin can melt. They were then poured into a mold, frozen, breaded, and fried. It acts as sauce when broken into.The vinaigrette is made from a vegetable stock that has been reduced significantly. It’s then whisked with arbequina olive oil, a touch of black truffle oil, and a splash of champagne vinegar. It’s a very savory and not so acidic vinaigrette.
vegetable jus vinaigrette
- dehydrated olives
- dehydrated portabello gills
- black sesame seeds