New York Magazine's Culinary Experience: Cooking Up Magic!

The second annual New York Culinary Experience held at the French Culinary Institute located in the Soho section of Manhattan gathered a Who’s Who from the culinary world for a two-day food extravaganza.

New York Culinary Experience and The French Culinary Institue: Cooking up Magic!

Hosted by Gillian Duffy, Culinary Editor of New York Magazine, and Dorothy Hamilton, founder and CEO of The French Culinary Institute, the event was the brain child of the two women who love to celebrate the culinary experience. The events participants came from as far away as the Philippines and close as next door.  

Gillian Duffy, New York Magazine's Culinary editor chats with a participant of the New York Culinary Experience.

The sold out two-day event featured the world best including Chef Andre Soltner, the former owner of Lutece, Alain Sailhac the former Chef of Le Cirque, Jean-George Vorgehicten, Michal Psilakis, the rock star runner-up from the reality show Hell’s Kitchen, Masaharu Morimoto the original Iron Chef, the famous chef-patisserie “Mr. ChocolateJacque Torres and equally famous Chef Jacque Pepin.

New York Culinary experience wrap party. Alain Sailhac in foreground.

Additionally, the event welcomed Chef instructors Alain Allegretti of Allegretti, Dan Barber owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Jonathan Benno of Per Se, David Bouley of Bouley, Sucession and Bouley Market, Scott Conant of Scarpetta, Ariane Daguin owner of D’artagnan, Arlene Feldman Sailhac, wife of Alain and, founder of the world famous De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s.

Nils Noren and Dave Arnold serve tequila cocktails made with 901 Tequila courtesy of Justin Timberlake.

The event also welcomed Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield from The Spotted Pig, Alexandra Guarnaschelli from Butter, Christopher Lee of Aureole, Paul Liebrandt from Corton, Melissa Murphy of Sweet Melissa Patisserie, David Pasterneck of Crab, Zakary Pelaccio from Fatty Crab, Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill, Amy Scherber from Amy’s Bread, Bill Telepan of Telepan, Marcus Samuelsson from Aquavit and Michael White of Alto, Convivio and Marea.


Transformed Italian Chef Michael White.

The French Culinary Institute sent Nils Noren, Dave Arnold, Karen Bornarth, Roger Gural and Cesare Casella, Dean of The Italian Culinary Academy. Lunch was provided by Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality and included  interviews with Joe Bastianich restaurateur, winemaker and author and Marco Maccioni and Sirio Maccioni of the famous New York restaurant Le Cirque.

Restauratuer, Joe Bastianich treats the lunch crowd to his alternative side with Dorothy Hamilton, CEO of The French Culinary Institute.

The opportunity to be a part of this experience was enhanced by the continued generosity of the Chef’s who freely answered questions, rolled up their sleeves and created a cooking together style. Several prepared recession friendly dishes that were exceptionally pleasing to the palette, the pocket and in presentation.

Alain Sailhac, pleased, looks over his domain.

The step-by-step procedures, were an opportunity for even the most culinary challenged to participate with ease in the hand-on process and to receive instructions from the world’s best.  All classes are built to incorporate the time constraints associated with pre-preparation and cooking needs.  Unable to be a part of every session the following is an overview of the classes and highlights from the event.

Marinating the 17lbs. of fish and preparing the clams.

Alain Sailhac, the former chef of the famous Le Cirque Restaurant, elected to teach the class how to prepare his world famous bouillabaisse. A master Chef, Alain Sailhac, delivers his unique teaching style with a combination of humor and artistry that makes even the most culinary challenged feel at home under his tutelage.

Alain Sailhac explaining the rock fish.

The industrial kitchen hosted twenty four student teams filled with the expectations for creating the culinary masterpiece under his guidance. With the difficulty of bouillabaisse it is hard to imagine being able to prepare, cook and complete it in the allotted time and yet, the participants were able to do just that!

Seduced by master the lobster sleeps before his death.

Alain walked through the entire process from chopping the basil to blanching the lobster, preparing the paste for the Rouille and toasting the croutons. The recipe calls for a seventeen pounds of six different type of fish plus clams and lobster! The students puréed, chopped, cut, sliced, julienned and boiled. And in the end they walked out with a most delicious bouillabaisse.

Filleting Red Snapper for the freshest of ingredients.

Alain is charming, generous and finds pleasure in preparing culinary masterpieces. He is very kind  and loves share his creations. He even sent a portion of his most famous bouillabaisse home with me. It was exquisite!

The master's bouillabaisse! Beyond words!

Masaharu Morimoto, the master of the Sushi bar, was felled by a broken wrist and had his assistant instruct the students on the fine art of making perfectly rolled Sushi.

Morimoto in the background and his assistant preparing the Tuna.

As an avid connoisseur of homemade sushi my questions were burning and, as we are told "in the kitchen no question is a wrong question," fortunately they disappeared as Morimoto’s assistant seemed to understand my stunted blurts and began to julienne strips of cucumber and avocado. It created the image and any common questions for in sushi preparation dissipated.

The Sushi prep bar.

After an initial demonstration the assistant began to explain in simple language the necessary steps to preparing perfect home rolled sushi.

Maki and Urimaki ready for serving.

Beginning with the seaweed covering or Nori. No matter what the instructions on the back of the bamboo mat kit explain, prior to any use, sushi masters wrap the mat in cellophane. This keeps the surface from any type of sticking. Another amazing revelation was half Nori. The Nori bought at the grocery is usually a full strip.  The Nori used at Morimoto is half the size of the store bought. It makes for easier manipulation and rolling.

Morimoto's assistant prepares Maki.

Next The Rice: The rice is sweetened with Japanese sweet vinegar which can be found at most grocery stores. The percentage of vinegar added is about 10% to 15% to the amount of rice prepared.  After mixing the Japanese vinegar and letting the rice stabilize; gather enough rice in the palm of your hand to roll into a ball the size of a lemon. Place the rice on the center of the Nori. Spread the rice out toward the sides and back to the edge covering the entire Nori. The demonstration was for the outside in roll; urimaki.

The rice covers the entire Nori.

Then place the ingredients into the center of the Nori. After learning, through web research the proper sushi making method,  watching a sushi chef make the rolls corrected wrong interpretation. The ingredients are always placed in the center of the Nori. The larger items first and if you are including a secondary item, crab, tuna, cucumber, avocado, the items can be placed on top of the first item.

The ingredients are placed in the center of the Nori.

Using the mat as the rolling machine, place the end over top the ingredients and roll. The final squeeze is done with the mat to create a perfectly rolled urimaki. It was very interesting and the sushi was delicious!

A perfectly rolled Urimaki.

Following Andre Soltner, former owner of the world famous Lutece French restaurant and considered the first Superstar Chef, as he prepared a delicious Puff Pastry was a very unique experience.

Rolling the pastry shell.

The Puff Pastry, Tarte aux Pommes de Terre or Potato Pie is just one of the recession friendly dishes that home chef’s can create with ease. It is made of basic ingredients commonly found in most kitchens: Bacon, eggs, potato, fresh crème, parsley, butter, salt, flour. The only real baking tools needed are a pie ring and a round pizza pan.

Placing the bacon in the tart shell.

Mr. Soltner, is charming and personable, with a sharing giving personality that is evident as he made his way around the room appraising the work, assisting, giving helpful tips and instructions. The recipe, according to Mr. Soltner, is typical of his mother’s cooking. The Puff Pastry can be divided into a two day preparation or like on this day, made in four hours.

Mr. Soltner directing the class to spread a layer fresh crème.

Beginning with the flour mixture, the shell is prepared like most homemade crusts, although it differs in that the butter stays in chunks and is not totally dissolved in the mixture. 

Covering the top with a single layer of hardboiled eggs.

After making the pie crust, which due to time constraints wasn’t given the time to breathe before it was immediately placed inside the ring with enough of the dough falling over the edges to fold over the top but not covering the top;  the ingredients were added layer by layer into the pie shell.

Adding the fresh crème.

First, line the bottom of the pie shell with potato slices end-to-end, followed by the bacon, and the hardboiled egg slices over the bacon and finally the fresh crème. Sprinkle the parsley on top and line the edge with a final layer of potatoes. The remainder of the dough is rolled out to make a covering for the top of the tart.

Covering the top!

This recipe is worth downloading and making it at home. It was delicious! Simply delicious. The finished product has a flaky golden buttery crust pleasing to the eye and delicious to taste.  It fills the palette and creates a nice flavorful after taste. It serves eight full slices or ten to twelve smaller, equally filling, slices.

The Puff Pastry was fantastic, simply delicious and worth the time!

Michael Psilakis, also known as the first runner up in the Hell’s Kitchen television reality show brought a unique style and opportunity to the Culinary experience: Demystifying  Octopi. Psilakis is the owner of Anthos, a Greek restaurant in Manhattan.

The Octopus before Michael Psilakis.

The opportunity to watch the "Rock Star Chef” work his magic on Octopus was truly amazing. He runs a kitchen like a classic Dojo. He gives his students respect and expects the same in return. His choice to teach on Octopus brought an interesting, unusual and uncommon seafood item to the forefront and with that created ease, comfort and simplicity.

Decapitating Octopus.

The process for beheading the Octopus is explained and demonstrated in the class. It’s not for the faint of heart, although, there is no blood. It does appear interesting and should be experienced at least once if cooking is a pursuit. More than likely, tentacles can be purchased separately so to avoid the decapitating process.

The Octopus sliced and beheaded.

The students attending the culinary experience were given dressed tentacles. The octopus tentacles are oven roasted until fork tender. Each of the students made three different accompaniments: two sauces and chick pea salad to plate with the Octopus.

Demonstrating the decapitating process.

The sauces that compliment the flavor of the octopi, which had a crispy bacon flavor, were three unique blends of sweet and sour. The first a Ladolemono Sauce resonated with Dijon and lemon; the second salami, Granny Smith apples and anchovy vinaigrette; the third a chick pea and black bean salad coated with the Ladolemono sauce. 

Michael Psilakis, the rock star chef, working.

Taking the squiggly purple blob of tentacles and turning it into a pleasing, delectable, beautifully plated meal is nothing short of wizardry. And the taste: Tres bon!

Karla Reyes, a student participant holds a perfectly plated Octopus after cooking with Michael Psilakis. *Photo courtesy of Karla Reyes.

Ariane Daguin, is fourth generation Chef with family history to the region of Gascon, France. The same region made famous by The Three Musketeers.  D’artagnan, her company, is named after one of the fictional characters created by Alexander Dumas. For her session she created another recession friendly meal: The Cassoulet a mainstay from her home region.

Gillian Duffy, Culinary Editor for New York Magazine and Ariane Daguin.

D’artagnan, is one the premier luxury food service providers featuring foie gras, duck, organic turkey, grass feed beef and lamb, Pâtés and Charcuterie and much more. The company caters to both the home chef and the professional and specializes in the freshest ingredients. 

D'artagnan Products available through Ariane Daguin's company.

The classic white beans casserole is similar in both structure and  preparation time to ham and bean soup minus the broth.  The beans are soaked overnight, drained and rinsed. In the morning they are cooked for one hour with onions and bouquet garni (herbs tied together for stock flavor). After cooking, the onions and garni are discarded.  One-half of the beans are poured into the casserole baking dish, followed by the meat and vegetables and then the remaining beans.

Beans, Onions, Carrots, Ham: The ingredients for Ariane Daguin's Cassoulet

The sauce is created by whisking the tomato paste into a semi dissolved demi-glace, a brown sauce that is poured into the mixture not stirred or folded into it. The fat left-over from the meat products is then drizzled on top.  The core of this recipe is the beans; all the other meat items, ventreche or pork belly can be substituted with the meat item of your choice. Most culinary experts agree that bacon can be substituted for the ventreche. If Ham is your preference follow the recipe adding Ham instead.

The Cassoulet before baking.

The Cassoulet serves twelve, at full recipe, and can be refrigerated. It’s a hearty, filling main meal that goes a long way

The event wrapped each day with receptions sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality provided lunch.  Media partners included, Supporting partners included Justin Timberlake’s 901 TequilaAbigail MichaelsD’artagnan, Mourchon, Frizzy Lizzy, Fresh Direct, Francis Ford Coppola, Icelandic Glacial, illy, La Caravelle Champagne, Mercer Innovations for Chefs, Murray’s, Nicolas Feuilatte, Neiman Ranch, Republic Uniforms, Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto, Scharfen Berger, Soho House and Something Different Party House.

Alain Sailhac raises his glass to you! Be a part of the experience.

If you missed this year event you can be a part of next’s year New York Magazine Culinary Experience. The event is in the pre-planning stages for October 2 -3, 2010. 


All recipes can be found by following this link:

For information on the 2010 New York Culinary Experience follow this link:

For information on D’artagnan products follow this link:

For media inquires contact Wendy Knight Communications by following this link:[email protected]

For information on L'Ecole, The Resturant of The French Culinary Institute:

Student Participant: Karla Marina A. Reyes.
The Plaza Inc. of the Philippines:

All photos taken by Janet Walker courtesy of Pulse Point Productions, Inc.


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