Keep calm; do not adjust your screens. What looks to be something straight out of Alien is actually the original parchment paper/sous vide/fata cooking method that has been used for centuries. Wait until you see how it was prepared! Any guesses on identifying this dinosaur egg/balloon looking thing? (Keep reading to see if you’re right…)
On Monday June 18, 2012 I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Nicholas Elmi of Rittenhouse Tavern at COOK. Nick is the Executive Chef at Rittenhouse Tavern which recently opened within the Art Alliance off Rittenhouse Square. He started his cooking career at the age of 15 and is a 2002 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Most notably he was the Executive Chef at Le Bec-Fin 1.0 with Georges Perrier for the past three years. He has a wealth of experience working in kitchens alongside many great chefs in New York City, Paris, and Boston.
I need to thank his brother for allowing Nick to crash with him in Philadelphia after culinary school. That’s how the New Englander got his first experience of Philly, and somehow he keeps finding himself returning to the City of Brotherly Love. Now we get to experience the amazing dishes he has to offer at Rittenhouse Tavern daily.
Since departing the arena of French Fine Dining, Nick is now able to apply French techniques within a comparatively more casual environment. Here’s some of the exceptional food I experienced that night.
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For the past two Septembers, Philadelphians have been lucky to experience Feastival, an annual fete bringing together Philadelphia’s elite chefs and restaurants to benefit the Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe, one of the biggest urban arts festivals in the nation. A mainstay of the Feastival is its auction — a number of exclusive packages go up for bidding, with all proceeds directly supporting the arts in Philadelphia. The ultimate food-centric experience offered as part of 2011′s Feastival auction became an opulent reality in March, when seven of the city’s most celebrated chefs created an unprecedented private dinner party for an exclusive group of Philly-based patrons of the arts.
The roster read like a well-informed foodie’s ultimate dinner list — Nicholas Elmi (Rittenhouse Tavern), Jon Cichon (Lacroix), Terence Feury (Fork), Daniel Stern (R2L), Michael Schulson (Sampan and Izakaya) and James Beard winners Jeff Michaud (Osteria) and Michael Solomonov (Zahav) all contributed their immense talents to the evening, with each chef crafting a no-expense-spared course reflective of his personal style and discipline. Wine for this once-in-a-lifetime meal, which took place at a beautiful private residence in Society Hill, was curated by talented Vetri beverage manager Steve Wildy. Legendary Le Bec-Fin chef Georges Perrier even made a surprise appearance to greet guests and sing the praises of the men working so hard to make the night of charitable appreciation and celebration one to remember.
Only a select few had the opportunity to dine with this kitchen dream team, but here’s the exciting news: This dinner party for the ages will once again be offered as an auction item at this year’s Feastival, scheduled for September 12, 2012. The winner will not only have the rare chance to take in this priceless experience — he or she will also lend invaluable support to our city’s vibrant and unmatched performing arts community. So get your bids ready and we’ll see you on the auction floor in September!