I was privileged to assist Chef Philip Hanes at his guest chef appearance at the CENA supper club (cenanyc.com). His multi-course Modern French tasting menu melded into a dining experience that also featured live music by DJ Jesse Mann, cocktails, an art exhibit by Danielle Mastrion, and live painting by Broke MC, all in a fantastic pop-up space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
CENA has a great tagline: "Farmers. Chefs. Diners. Unite." It prides itself on sourcing all products locally, creating a beautiful, symbiotic web of local chefs, food, and diners. This dinner in particular supported fishers from the Northeast, Brooklyn bakers -- and who could do without the neighborhood bon bon maker, Angela Amorizzo?
The chef's menu drew from the piscine culinary arts, showcasing salmon gravlax, citrus ceviche, and seared striped bass. I personally became acquainted with a new fruit, rambutan, an exotic, tropical treat from Southeast Asia which much resembles a sea urchin yet tastes like lychee. A lesser known fact about them is that they are delicious in creme brulee!
If it sounds like Philip knows what he's talking about when it comes to gourmet cuisine -- he does! He has worked for Le Bec Fin, DB Bistro Moderne, Lasserre, Le Bernardin, and Marriott International, and has a degree from the Ecole Grégoire-Ferrandi in classic French cuisine. He also writes for Food Tank. His newest exciting venture, Moving Gastronomy, aims to expand the fine dining experience, especially through introducing forward-thinking food topics like sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and food justice. It was amazing having the opportunity to work with him, as well as with his colleague, Edgar Astudillo, who has also worked at Le Bernardin.
I love creative dinner parties of all kinds -- as an organizer and foodie myself, it's extraordinary to be able to experience new vibes that others are cooking up. I find it tremendously inspiring to be in the company of other chefs and organizers -- like CENA founder Naomi Santos, who is a fantastic hostess and under whose watch the evening ran flawlessly. Not to mention that the evening was one part of CENA's One Night Only series of three events in the span of several weeks! (The other two featured French/Indian Fusion by Chef Jasmine Sheth and Modern American by Chef Michael Patlazhan.) The dinner party experience is clearly so en vogue here and now in New York City -- and it is so exciting to me to be a part of feeding and growing that movement.