Another James Beard opportunity presented itself, so I went to the House and introduced myself to Chicago Chefs, John des Rosiers and Philip Rubino. Their menu for the night was called Modern Italian Meets American, and I was super excited to work with authentic ingredients like culatello, fresh pasta dough, and a variety of cheeses.
- Sliced Chorizo into 80 (thin) Strips: The slicer and I became besties, again – once I got the right consistency is was smooth sailing
- Cleaned the Beards off of the Mussels: Yes, mussels have beards and I’m not sure what their purpose is (see below)
- Cooked & De-Shelled the Mussels: From start to finish I’d say it took an entire hour (if not more) to prep for the shooters
- Pureed the Sweet Potato: Added cream, salt and butter- VOILA!
- Assisted with Garganelli Pasta: Channeled my inner nonnina which evoked pure joy and conversation.
TOUGHEST JOB: Hands down, the mussels.
- Mussels have beards (literally) and it’s best to rip them out with a paring knife before you cook them
- FYI, the mussels are alive so you need to pull the beards quickly otherwise they’ll fight you (yes, I totally de-bearded the mussels in the Beard House)
- Mussels are done when they pop open (if they don’t pop open they’re dead- toss them out)
- I prepped with this team for six hours.
- As I executed each of my tasks, the Chefs spoke to me about Chicago, handmade pasta, and Italian dishes they make in their restaurants.
- I left that afternoon feeling accomplished and proud of the work I did…
- And I also left feeling really full. Who can say no to charcuterie, bread and cheese from Eataly NYC? #NotMe
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SHIFT:
- Asking a well-known seafood purveyor in Chicago if there were any fish on the market that he will not purchase (even for high-end clients) based on limited availability; his response (after taking a minute to think), “I won’t buy blue fin because there are other fish to choose from” #admirable
- Hearing Chef John speak about his food with passion and enthusiasm; he even explained how he had a hand-carved stamp made to resemble oak in the foie gras. #iLOVEstufflikethis
- Speaking to Chef Philip about different types of handmade pasta he makes at his restaurant; hopefully I’ll be able to visit Moderno by the time they master strozzapreti pasta #GetNonnaintheKitchen