A Celebration of American Regional Cuisine at Craft, NYC

A Celebration of American Regional Cuisine at Craft, NYC

It’s cool how attention comes in waves. The last couple of years I’ve been participating in many local culinary events, but not much on the national scale. Then, within the same week, I’m invited to participate in two New York City events with a lineup of chefs that humbles me.

The first event was put on by blogger/author Steve Plotnicki of Opinionated About Dining and the excellent Opinionated About U.S. Restaurants guidebook on September 14th at Craft, Tom Colicchio’s restaurant that just received three stars from the New York Times. 

For the event, intended to celebrate the “Farm to Table” ethos, Steve asked me to do a chilled vegetable-based soup and bruschetta using local Chino Farms products. I decided to do a chilled yellow zucchini soup finished with buratta cheese and served with a Chino corn bruschetta with huitlacoche. The other chefs were responsible for doing dishes with the “Farm to Table” concept from their respective areas in the country.

After a redeye flight arriving in NYC at 6:30 a.m., I figured I would just go straight to Craft with the ingredients I had brought with me and get my prep done. I was awake and could get into the kitchen before the rest of the crew got there. My plan worked great. I finished by noon and went for a really excellent lunch at ABC Kitchen, a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for a long time. If you’re in NYC, I highly recommend it. After a short nap, I had dinner by myself at Brushstroke, the new Japanese restaurant by David Bouley. What a great experience, a kaiseki style menu with few choices celebrating the seasons and impeccable Japanese technique. A good nights sleep and I was back in the Craft kitchen getting ready for the dinner with the rest of the participating chefs.

My course was up first and went out without a hitch. The nice thing about being up first is that you’re able to help everyone else and check out their dishes without worrying about your course. All the other dishes were excellent and it was great to see how different the courses were given the chefs were from all different parts of the country and used what was local and in season in their area. After a couple celebratory beers in the kitchen, we were ushered into the dining room to meet with the guests, answer questions and take a few pictures.

The response to the dinner was great. Chef Colicchio summed it up perfectly when he said how enjoyable this event was, how well we all worked together and how egos were held in check. A few of the chefs had early flights out so we chose to call it an early night (12:30 a.m.). I had a big day ahead of me as I was heading up to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns to spend a couple of days in the kitchen and see the farm. A separate post regarding my time there will be up soon.

View photos of each course from the Celebration of American Regional Cuisine.

The next event is on December 6th for my good friend Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto. It is the inaugural Lemon: NYC event to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and will feature more than 40 of the country’s top chefs. Each New York based chef will partner with a visiting chef to build a one-of-a-kind, four-course, family style meal. If you happen to be in the area, I’d encourage you to buy tickets.