Long before this collaboration came to be, Anthony Nichols (pictured on the right with culinary director Mario Rodriguez ’09), kindly sent us a thoughtful essay about the first time he created a Dinner Lab experience. It’s a perfect sentiment as we start our celebration.
“I was in an abandoned and gutted Wendy’s on Beekman Street – the location of my first five-course tasting menu for Dinner Lab NYC. I found our non-traditional place raw and romantic. As we were loading in, one of the staff found a 3-D iridescent portrait of Jesus Christ as a shepherd with a flock of sheep – it looked tacky, I found it charming – so I hung it on a ledge near the pass and got to work.
After three days of efficient and flawless prep, we finally began to plate my “When Land Meets Sea” themed dinner. First came the Fluke Tartare over Macoun Apple Chips.The plate looked delicate, precise and refined. The second course, Fried Brandade over Romesco and Root Vegetable Chips, looked as if it belonged on a coral reef in the Galapagos Islands. Suffice it to say, I was pleased, happy with my staff and delighted to do my food, my way.
Later that evening, as my staff plated the Pan-seared Duck Breast over Almond Mole and Watercress, a guest waved me over to her table and proclaimed, “You are the sauce KING!!” I smiled, thanked her and went back to plating the next course.
Then, in the midst of everything, I had a fleeting thought about my time at FCI and the countless hours obsessing about court bouillon, brunoise and consommés. I recognized, I was part of something special, something larger than my Misono chef’s knife – I am a cook, part of a lasting and noble profession in the greatest city in the modern world. Then I quickly turned my attention to the waiting brandy cake over a bed of pistachios and cranberries.”
When not creating Dinner Lab experiences, Anthony is executive chef at Restaurant and Associates – Young and Rubicam. Follow him on twitter @ChefAnichols1.