April 13, 2009

Chef for a Day at Monarch

My friend and Kitchen Conservatory co-worker Ruth won a silent auction during the Slow Food trivia night recently to be "chef for a day" with Executive Chef Josh Galliano at Monarch. And since Ruth is such a nice person, she invited me and Teresa Sweeney to come along with her.

First, I have to say that Chef Galliano was so nice to us. I was a bit worried about being in the way, but he put us to work (nicely, though I did ask him to yell at me in a British accent to complete my fantasy) and seemed to trust that we were doing everything correctly. We worked for four hours & between the three of us we scaled trout; blanched, peeled, cut & de-seeded tomatoes; cleaned 10 pounds of morel mushrooms; trimmed what seemed like a hundred artichokes; cut homemade marshmallows; rolled dinner rolls; pickled beans; cleaned scallops; and shelled raw fava beans.

10 pounds of fresh morels & only a few crawly critters to be found!

I don't think Teresa wants to cut another tomato for a LONG time.

I didn't hear Chef say I only had to trim HALF of those artichokes, so I did them all...happily.

While that might not sound like a lot of fun to most people, I had a blast! I find that cooking, even prepping, is very therapeutic. I also enjoyed seeing how a restaurant kitchen like that operates. It was a quiet, laid-back kind of atmosphere...at least from 12-4. Everyone was nice and patient with us.

The kitchen at Monarch is huge. And, I was impressed to find out that everything on the menu--charcuterie, desserts, stocks, breads, liqueurs, etc--are made in-house. I was also impressed to see Chef Galliano doing his share in the kitchen (as well as running finished plates to tables in the dining room)...and not just delegating tasks as I imagine several executive chefs do.

Afterward, we had a few cocktails & a snack in the bar. Teresa asked us to stay for dinner with her and her family & friends. Thus began a 6-hour orgy of food and drinks. I loved seeing how the ingredients we prepped were prepared & presented in the final dishes.

Limoncello Mojito.

Monarch martinis: Orangecello & Tea-infused.

The infamous Chicken Confit Nugget with Salsa Verde.

Such beautifully rolled breads!

Apple of my Rye.

Stinging nettle & ricotta gnocchi with asparagus, mushrooms & bacon.

Diver scallop with olive oil mashed potatoes, fava beans, tomato confit, preserved lemon, & thyme foam.

Soft chocolate fudge with avocado ice cream, chocolate & vanilla soils, & candied pepitas.

Many thanks to Josh, Ruth, and Teresa for a fabulous day!


KBO said...

So jealous. That is all.

Alecia @ Bang-Bang's Quest for Yay, Yum, and Yes said...

I'm with KBO--SO JEALOUS! What a fabulous day, beginning to end. And it's so nice to get in the zone when you're doing prep work. Hey, thanks Ruth! :)