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Another Pastry Chef In Nyc


Patrice
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I had an incredible week in NYC. I came to give demos at both the International Restaurant and Hotel Show and, at the Chocolate show. Both demos went well, even if I tought my performance at the chocolate show was better ( it was my second demo in english, the one at the IRHS being the first...)

I was very happy to be able to meet Micheal and Paul Connors. I was also able to meet my friends: Steve and Colleen. Thank to Bux and Suvir for their presence at the IRHS.

My first meal in NYC was in a very charming Trattoria, Le Zie. I had 2 good meal there with Steve and Colleen.

Monday, after the demo, we didn't had reservation at any restaurant... We called at Jean-Georges and we were seated there 2 hours later.

We choose both tasting menu:

Jean-Georges Menu:

Egg Caviar

Bay Scallops with Caper-Raisin Emulsion, Caramelized Cauliflower

Young Garlic Soup with Thyme, Sautéed Frog Legs

Turbot in a Château Chalon Sauce, Tomato and Zucchini

Lobster Tartine, Lemongrass, Fenugreek Broth and Pea Shoots

Broiled Sqab, Onion Compote, Corn Pancake with Foie Gras

Desserts

Autumn Menu

Foie Gras Brûlée, Spiced Fig Jam

Peekytoe Crab Salad, Fuji Apple, Hot Mustard Froth

Herd Risotto, wild Mushroom and Porcini Confiture

Slowly Cooked Black Cod, Potato Noodles, Crème Fraîche, Vodka and Caviar

Lemon Poached Lobster, Autumn Vegetable Tapioca and Fragrant Gewürztraminer Froth

Millbrook Venison Studded with Candied Orange, Butternut Squash, Almond Purée, Juniper Salt

Desserts

The food was very good. I was particularly impress with the black cod and the lemon poached lobster.

The Millbrook Venison and the carb salad weren't as interesting as the other parts of the meal.

Being a desserts fan, I was really excited after such a good meal. But, for my taste, the desserts were a big letdown. They sent us 3 degustation plates:

Chocolate

Warm Chocolate Cake, Vanilla ice cream

Chocolate Caramel Mousse, Hazelnut Succès, Salted Peanut

White Chocolate-Tarragon Millefeuilles, Grapefruit

Chilled Juniper-Spiced Chocolate Soup, Devon Cream

Exotic

Chocolate-Passion Soufflé, Passion Sauce

Roasted Pineapple with Cardamom, Coconut Sorbet

Soft Kalamanzi Cream, Matcha Meringue

Mango Soup, Papaya, litchi ginger sorbet

Caramel

Chocolate Crêpe Suzette, Meyer Lemon

Caramel-Banana Cake, Sablé Croquant

Pepper Crème Caramel, Walnut Nougatine

Apple Soup, Caramel Gelée and Granny Smith Sorbet.

On each plate, there was one very good item: the chocolate caramel mousse, the kalamanzi cream and the caramel banana cake. The other items were there to fill these big square plates

The mignardises weren't good at all.

I give them a A for the food and a C for desserts

:hmmm:

Patrice Demers

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On each plate, there was one very good item: the chocolate caramel mousse, the kalamanzi cream and the caramel banana cake. The other items were there to fill these big square plates

The mignardises weren't good at all.

I give them a A for the food and a C for desserts

  :hmmm:

Thanks for the detailed post.

Also thanks for your Demo at the show. It was great to see you cooking and sharing with us all you were doing. I for one would have been fooled that you did not speak English. You spoke for a LONG time and very well. At one point Bux noticed you were all alone.. and we were both concerned...... You seemed not worried by this.. and came out fine in the end. All signs of a seasoned chef and calm person. It was fun being there and seeing all of you cook great stuff with vegetables. Thanks!

Now back to your meal... What was it about the desserts that you did not care for? What made them only worthy of a C grade? Curious! And I ask this not to trouble you, but I feel we will learn a lot from your critique.. and it would teach us what to look for when we enjoy desserts.... So, if it is not too much to ask... and if you can find time... please do share your thoughts. :smile:

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Thanks Suvir

Your question is a very good one. The first thing a search in desserts in a restuarant is a logical progress with the meal.

At J-G, the food is surprising, very tasty, fun...

I would expect the same thing from the desserts...

Warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream: you can find this dessert in any NYC restaurant. Everybody is doing it. Even if J-G was the fisrt to do it in America, I would expect him to do something more original.

Chocolate Crêpe Suzette isn't what you want at J-G.

Crème caramel that is supposed to taste pepper but only taste ordinary crème caramel isn't best.

I really didn't like the idea of the big plates with 4 small desserts. I really prefer a dessert that is well constructed, with different textures, cold ice cream/hot fruits, smooth/crunchy.

Some of the items we had would have made a very good dessert by themselves:

The Chocale caramel mousse with hazelnut succès and salted peanut was very very good.

Alone, in a bigger portion, with maybe a peanut butter ice cream, some hot fruits ( maybe some bananas or some pears) it would have been perfect.

On J-G dessert menu, I aslo see cheesecake, buttermilk panna cotta...these are the type of desserts you can find anywhere in NYC.

The cooking of J-G is very trendy: he use a lot of fruits, all his sauce are foamy, he doesn't use cream.

In his desserts, I would expect to find vegetables, foam...

Patrice Demers

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IOn each plate, there was one very good item: the chocolate caramel mousse, the kalamanzi cream and the caramel banana cake. The other items were there to fill these big square plates

The mignardises weren't good at all.

Patrice, thanks for your report. This is an interesting point, and a pervasive problem at many restaurants that serve dessert tastings...I too often find that one dessert is above all others, and that the others are relegated to "filler" status.

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Thanks Patrice! :smile:

How can we read more from you?

This was a great little class... I learned so much.

And actually agree with you entirely.. So much fuss has been made about the pastry chef and JG.. and I was less then inspired to come back.

What a shame. For the food is really nice and fun.

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Suvir-Maybe we could do an interactive pastry class on e-gullet.

We have the chance to have some of the best pastry chef in America on e-gullet: Steve Klc, Micheal Laiskonis ( mlpc), Colleen,Winding...

Patrice Demers

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Patrice, I think cheesecake and buttermilk panna cotta have a place on his menu. So what if they're popular in New York, this restaurant is in New York. He just should be making them better than everyone else. Don't forget, Jean-Georges is French. To him, such desserts are exotic and sooo American. Also, he's got to serve that chocolate moelleux cake, because it's one of his signature desserts (even if everyone claims he stole it from Bras). And what's wrong with chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream? It's the best dessert combination out there. Show me a candied vegetable that can hold it's own next to a good chocolate cake.

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By that logic, Lesley, should we expect crisp-skinned roast chicken with potato and carrots on every high end restaurant menu? Clearly not. The keys are the words Patrice used to describe the food at J-G--surprising, tasty, fun. That's what's missing in your defense of the staid chocolate cake/vanilla ice cream combo. It's been passed by and the same cake concepts--be they attributed to Bras or J-G--have been surpassed in the hands of others. Why defend a chef or pastry chef willing to rest on past laurels? And even more importantly--it doesn't match the cuisine in thought, effort, playfulness or execution.

That's the standard I believe Patrice expected of an elite restaurant in NYC and just perhaps this ties into the other thread ongoing at the moment which is considering whether the supposed elite restaurants in NYC are so special anymore. (I don't want to give too much away, but Patrice had some very impressive desserts by Bill Yosses at Citarella and Jean-Francois Bonnet at Atelier so at least the dessert aspect of that question isn't a foregone conclusion.)

Back to J-G--he could easily serve his chocolate moelleux more creatively or more inventively--look what Philippe Conticini is doing with his mini-moelleux up in a wine glass as but one example. That way the dessert would be more in line with the food which preceded it. A big lump of cake with a lump of vanilla ice cream--no matter how good--is still boring when seen in the context of the J-G meal which preceded it.

Perhaps the cake could/should have been varied in time--with different flavors or ingredients--say mashed caramelized bananas--folded into the batter or contained in the center of the cake--one example which might be appropriate for J-G is that when you cut into it a liquid center of coconut comes spilling out?

I'm sorry Lesley--Patrice's expectation that J-G should do something more original with this seems valid to me. Unless you expect a dinner there to be a collection of museum pieces--come and dust off J-G's Greatest Hits.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Well, I'm sorry too.

All this over-wrought innovation is turning into a big fat bore to me. This girl is all Tetsuya'd out. I'd like to see restaurant innovation turn in a new direction. These days, I'd take that crisp-skinned chicken over a truffle macaron.

Anyway, I think you misread half of my response. Then again, you're in the curry-with-chocolate camp...

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No, I'm in the "as long as it is good" camp first, and then the "desserts should follow the cuisine" camp second. In fact, Adria's "curry-chocolate-coconut" would be warranted on J-G's menu--if they had a pastry chef who could pull it off. And I'd enjoy a good vanilla ice cream and an underdone chocolate brownie like any other diner--after a meal which warranted it. Like in a diner or maybe in a bakery after a sandwich or if I found myself in some touristy safe place like Union Square Cafe. Just not in an elite 4 star restaurant in an elite food city like NYC where the chef is viewed as inventive and daring.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Back to J-G--he could easily serve his chocolate moelleux more creatively or more inventively--look what Philippe Conticini is doing with his mini-moelleux up in a wine glass as but one example.  That way the dessert would be more in line with the food which preceded it.  A big lump of cake with a lump of vanilla ice cream--no matter how good--is still boring when seen in the context of the J-G meal which preceded it.

Perhaps the cake could/should have been varied in time--with different flavors or ingredients--say mashed caramelized bananas--folded into the batter or contained in the center of the cake--one example which might be appropriate for J-G is that when you cut into it a liquid center of coconut comes spilling out?

Steve -

you've touched on a point not often recognized here. Chocolate has many tastes and textures, with antecedents on several continents. I'd venture it's possible to do a "chocolate cake and ice cream" with venezuelan fudge and a cinnamon ice cream from an obscure herd of cows. Not often done, but different, and perhaps interesting.

When an inventive chef falls back on the tried and tue (Valhrona and home made vanilla ice cream) it probably says as much about her view of the customer as it does about the customer's expectations of the chef...

Paul

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Unfortunately,I've always found the desserts at Jean George to be a letdown,having had a few meals there over the years.The great ,clean flavor matches that make his savory dishes great have always been missing when dessert comes around.I thought that the desserts at JoJo and Vong were much better when I ate at these places a few years back.

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Yes, Paul, and one thing I'd add to my previous post--it takes a chef/owner willing to admit he/she needs a pastry chef--willing to hire, pay and support a pastry chef capable of going beyond vanilla ice cream and a brownie--and work on both of their parts to create a synergy between them so those great clean flavor matches, to use wingding's example, extend thoughout the course of an entire meal.

Start spreading the news, Paul--like Patrice has done here--call inventive chefs to account when their desserts are a letdown. Lesley's tired of innovation that doesn't succeed and doesn't work--I'm more tired of poor desserts with little thought and no innovation. We both have jaded palates--guess we've been eating at different places!

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I understand your point Lesley but I don't agree with you... :angry:

J-G restaurant is all about innovation, surprises and, he's good at it: he can make scallops with capers, raisins and cauliflower taste wonderful.

I said earlier that I would expect the same thing from his pastry chef. If his current pastry chef cannot do it maybe he's not the good one for this job. I really think we should be more critical with pastry chefs. When desserts aren't at the same level of the cuisine, we should tell the restaurant what we think. I really don't want to eat melting chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for the rest of my life...

I'm sure there is someone in NYC that would be able to do desserts that would fit J-G restaurant. There are some very talented pastry chefs in the U.S.A, like Michael from Tribute, who can make sweet potato sorbet with chocolate and star anise taste incredible.

Patrice Demers

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Unfortunately,I've always found the desserts at Jean George to be a letdown,having had a few meals there over the years.The great ,clean flavor matches that make his savory dishes great have always been missing when dessert comes around.I thought that the desserts at JoJo and Vong were much better when I ate at these places a few years back.

I have loved some of the desserts I have had at Vongs and JoJo over the years.

In fact just last night at Diwan I was inspired at 5 PM to make a Spiced Citric Soup which was served with the Kulfi. I was inspired by a dessert that I had eaten at JoJo.. An orange soup with Vanilla Bean icecream. It was simple and yet divine.

But at JG the desserts just do nothing... I am not sure adding "Curry" is the answer.. but they need good desserts period.

I would be happy eating either what Lesley would love or what Steve Klc would like... But at this time... what is being served is neither and far from inspiring. I think both Lesley and Steve will be happy if a great pastry chef were working in that restaurant and serving good pastry.... Even if the style was quite different from their own... And so, I think in my humble opinion, I see you both somewhat closer than what some may read after reading these posts.... Since you both love perfection, good taste and a perfect complement to a savory meal. The little curry added here or there can only do so much for a dessert.. but at the very basic level, they have to have substance. Curry cannot provide that.

An example of how "Creativity" can be inspiring is to see how brilliantly Colleen Apte executed her Cornucopia at the Hotel/Motel/Restaurant show. If I were served just the candied onion rings I would never want to eat that dessert chefs food again, but after eating the dessert as a whole, I have come back having great respect for her. Each component of her dessert worked well with the other. The slight savory hint of the onion was quickly compensatd by the caramel in the corn and also the taste that was given to the palate by the beer. She worked hard (even though she made it seem as if it was nothing... credit to her for making things seem so easy.. an infectious quality that makes it comforting for novices to make an effort) and the results worked very well.

At JG, they need one that will make some effort in presenting desserts that complement the food. Not just mere drama.

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I think that JG desserts suffer from the 'more is more' syndrome.Most likely,you've already had a lot of courses,and flavors.Knock me out at the end of the meal with some strong,simple flavors,not 14 different tastings,plus marshmallows and such.It's just too much by the end of the meal,and I'm incapable of appreciating it at that point.One REALLY good sorbet would be great...By the way,credit for the the desserts at Vong and Jojo way back go to Serge Dezcraut[whose name I may be mispelling,Sorry],who I thought did great work.

Edited by wingding (log)
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