Miniature duck dogs with foie gras torchon on pretzel buns by Chef Victor Scargle.
It was a veritable swoon fest when 50 hand-picked guests came together to salivate over course after course of foie gras.
Yes, in California — the only state in the nation that bans that specialty product made from the fattened liver of a goose or duck.
That was the scene on July 5 at La Toque restaurant in Napa, which famously held a “State of American Foie Gras” lunch to publicize the fact that it’s been two years now since it became illegal to produce or sell foie gras in the state. Which is why La Toque gave it away — charging guests nothing for the lunch. Instead, the restaurant held a contest, asking people to write in about why “California’s foie gras ban is foolish.” Twenty-five winners were chosen, each of whom were allowed to bring a guest.
Scargle preparing his dish.
The guest chefs in the kitchen (L to R): David Bazirgan, Patrick Mulvaney, Mark Dommen, Douglas Keane and Victor Scargle.
Nearly 200 people entered. Kelvin Kwan, 40, of San Mateo was only too happy to attend after his wife, Diane Wong, 40, won the seats. “Whenever we travel out of state – whether it’s for work or pleasure – I guarantee that at least one meal will have foie gras,’’ says Kwan, a high-tech entrepreneur. “Now that we can’t get it in California, we always look for it on menus elsewhere.’’
What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.
BELLVUE, WA — Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft chief technology officer turned maestro of modernist cuisine, has held less than a dozen invitation-only dinners at his Intellectual Ventures laboratory. The exclusive guests have included the likes of Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, David Chang and Jose Andres.
In June, I was lucky enough to join that illustrious list when I was invited to be part of a very special dinner. What made this dinner so epic was not only the fact that it was Myhrvold’s largest dinner party to date, but that all the guests were women.
The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.
The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.
Plating in action.
A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.
Twenty-one female chefs and four female journalists sat down to a marathon 35-course dinner that lasted six hours. The guest list was as follows:
Calvin Lamborn’s over-sized pea 52s that are as sweet as candy.
TWIN FALLS, IDAHO — You may not be familiar with Calvin Lamborn’s name. But you know his delicious life’s work. He is the plant breeder responsible for creating the first commercially viable sugar snap pea in 1979.
It’s hard to imagine a time without those sweet, crunchy pea pods. But before Lamborn worked his magic, you couldn’t find sugar snap peas regularly at farmers markets or supermarkets. Oh, and those stringless sugar snap peas we all adore because they don’t have to be peeled? Yup, he created those, too.
Calvin Lamborn and his wife, Bonnie, who had a sugar snap pea variety name for her.
At 80 years of age now, Lamborn is not thinking about slowing down anytime soon. And top chefs in New York are sure thankful for that. Lincoln Ristorante, Union Square Cafe, The Breslin, wd-50 and more clamor to use his handiwork in their dishes — over-sized pea 52s that taste as sweet as candy, snap peas the bold color of a red chile pepper, and frilly pea leaves the likes of which no one had ever seen before.
Yours truly, interviewing Pastry Chef Bill Corbett, at Google headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Google)
It’s not every day you get to visit Google headquarters in Mountain View.
But a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to do an event there with Pastry Chef Bill Corbett of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar at San Francisco.
Corbett is one of the more than 50 chefs featured in my cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press).
The famed honey cake at 20th Century Cafe.
Lovely fragrant honey permeates the 10 ethereal layers of honey cake and honey buttercream stacked high at 20th Century Cafe in San Francisco.
Not surprisingly, it’s the top-selling treat there.
That’s Pastry Chef-Proprietor Michelle Polzine hard at work, assembling a fresh one, layer by delicate layer.
Pastry Chef Michelle Polzine in her open kitchen.
The first slice.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit Polizine’s charming Central European cafe, there’s no time like now, especially with Mother’s Day around the corner. After all, what better way to spoil Mom on her special day than with some impeccable baked goods?