food and beverage underground

The New York Culinary Experience

I was so pleased to be able to attend the New York Culinary experience at The French Culinary Institute. The Institute and its sponsors created a “Foodie’s” dream come true.

This weekend event hosted many talented chefs who graciously held hands-on cooking classes for those who wanted to learn. What a treat! Getting to watch these amazing chefs work is one thing, but to get to cook with them? Let me tell you, this event made a powerful, positive and lasting impression. I have had the chance to watch many Chefs work, but the Institute’s idea to put conference-goers side by side with these guys was spectacular.

Gillian Duffy , Drew Nieporent, Culinary Experience

Gillian Duffy started a jovial conversation with Drew Nieporent as they sat at the front of the room. She started by describing Drew Nieporent’s achievements which included an award as Humanitarian of the Year from the James Beard foundation. He has also been inducted into Who’s Who Food and Beverage in America, as well as countless other accolades.

The start of his interest in restaurants began as his father handled applications for the State liquor board, so the family was always invited to restaurant openings. Working in and being around restaurants in his early years gave Drew a keen understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Drew admits he still uses this finely honed sense to discover great ideas, even today, in his travels.

By using these “templates for success” Drew Nieporent has opened countless restaurants including Tribeca Grill, Corton (Montrachet), Nobu, Nobu Next door, Nobu London, Nobu Fifty Seven, Centrico, Mai House, and Crush Wine Company. He has accomplished all this and, can you believe, up until recently he didn’t even have an office. While Drew is a hands-on owner, he stays grounded and focused on healthy and good food as well as nurturing the talent that helps him with day-to-day operations. While he modestly credits his enormous accomplishments to his team, I realize that the people around him are in great company themselves.

Dessert Anyone?

After lunch, I attended Karen DeMasco’s Fall Greenmarket Desserts. Not only a talented pastry chef, Karen was charming, understanding and patient with us. This is no small thing as Karen was the pastry chef for both Craft and Craftbar and she even has a pastry cookbook coming out soon.

Chef DeMasco, Karen DeMasco, Fall Greenmarket Desserts

As soon as the delighted apron-wearing attendees arrived, we started cutting fresh fruit from the farmers market. It became obvious that Karen has been getting fresh fruit from the market for years, as she not only described each fruit for us, and knew something about each farmer and where the fruit was grown.

Greenmarket Farmers market has been promoting local farmer’s products since 1976. Our class was handed recipes and split into two groups so that we all would be able to participate first-hand in making the recipes.

It did not take long for the smells of the fresh fruit desserts coming from the oven to permeate the room. As we waited for the desserts to come out of the oven, Karen showed us how to make lemon verbena ice cream. Before I knew it, the two-hour session was over. I have to admit, I have already prepared one of the recipes since my return. I can say with certainly that we all had a wonderful time.

From New York Culinary Experience to Culinary Edge

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