Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

How I Roll on Rosh Hashanah, or, When Poe’s Kitchen Is in Someone Else’s Home

prep list I’ve done a lot of off-property catering over the years, for three reasons. Charitable causes are number one. Two and three are because it’s fun and because it’s fun. I find that when I cook in people’s homes for them and several of their closest friends, we have the opportunity to really connect over food. It is truly the most relaxed and intimate setting to cook in. I get eye contact; I get verbal feedback—and you can bet that when I overhear an “mmmm….that’s good” or a “wow, that sauce is incredible,” I’m mentally writing the next Unleashed Menu. It’s a daily treat to build a menu from scratch at the restaurant—but it’s easy, I’ve got staff to help me. It’s a real adventure to build a menu from scratch in a strange kitchen, flying solo with only a chef’s knife and whatever equipment the owner makes available.  

planning

This past weekend I went to New York to cook a  Rosh Hashanah dinner for someone whom I  consider a dear friend—someone who has unknowingly been a strong influence on my career, in terms of both my creative direction and my business sense. He shares the crowning title of “People I Love to Cook For,” and here’s why: he too accepts my nutty-professor approach to cooking, based on endless curiosity, and he too understands that fine dining doesn’t mean always mean foie gras and crystal. It emphasizes simple fun with high-quality ingredients in any setting that brings good people together. And it’s their voices I hear in my head as I cook.

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fennel and fenugreek bassOnce I’ve accepted a gig, here’s the general sequence of events:

1.      E-mails are exchanged with menu ideas. Everything from the season and likes/dislikes to religion and allergies are discussed. In this case, there was no pork, no shellfish, no dairy, no vinegar, no raw fish—talk about taking all of my favorite tricks out of the book!

2.      A menu is presented.

3.      The atmsophere is discussed; a sense of how the evening will unfold begins to develop.

4.      Flights are booked; hotels are booked.

5.      As preparation on the ground begins, 16 hours in advance, time is of the essence, stress levels build, and confidence is tested.

6.      Cooking from scratch begins—I must get organized quickly! The last few hours before guests arrive in someone else’s home are always the most intense!

7.      I have one hour to to run to the hotel, shower, put on my best chef’s coat, and return to the house for a meet and greet!

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Exposure is the most interesting part of catering versus cooking at Poe’s Kitchen. In my own place, I have time and space to meditate and regroup before the dinner rush begins. In another person’s home, I’m constantly on display. No cursing when I burn myself, no one but me to clean up the mess, no one even to demonstrate my methods to. And this brings me humbly back to my roots. Real cooking happens when it’s for people you love and respect. How do I take that feeling back into a professional environment? One course at a time…

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The menu, for your approval.

The C Family

 Rosh Hashanah Dinner Celebration 2009

 

Appetizers

Fig & Pine Nut Butter Stacks

Gravlax on Cucumber with Caper, Onion & Blackberry Compote

Minted Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous “Spring Rolls” with Leek Dipping Sauce

Salad:

Apple Carpaccio Salad

  Arugula~ Champagne and Apple Vinaigrette~ McIntosh Apples~ Strawberry Honey Glaze~ Cashew & Cinnamon Sugar Dust

Soup:

Mrs. C’s Secret Recipe of Chicken Soup

Traditions:

Potato and Noodle Kugel & Gefilte fish

Entrees:

Trio Plate of:

Pan Seared Coriander Cilantro Chicken

Apple & Tomatillo Salsa

  Saffron Infused Celery Root Puree~ Leek and Scallion Nest

Apricot & Mint Stuffed Tenderloin of Beef

Sun dried Apricot, Basil & Mint Stuffed Filet ~ Balsamic Jerusalem Artichoke & Garlic Mashed Potatoes ~ Veal Stock Reduction

Cabbage Wrapped Roasted Sea Bass

Upon a duo of Beet Borscht and Tzimmes Purees ~ Date and Acorn Squash “Salsa” and Fennel Pollen

 

 

 

Dessert will be Purchased

 Shana Tova Umetukah!

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