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THE ÉLECTRONS LIBRES TAKE -2–AMERICAN CHEFS: JUSTIN HILBERT

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The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.

Justin Hilbert was born in Pennsylvania. He began his career at The George Hotel on the Isle of Wight (England). But it was during a trip in 2006, where he worked at Mugaritz (Andoni Aduriz), he had a real revelation. Upon his return to New York, he had the opportunity to work with pastry chef Alex Stupak (WD-50) before flying out on his own and open Gwynnett St. in October 2011.

Like many emerging chefs, Justin Hilbert focus on the best local produce, and trying to find himself around New York or elsewhere in the United States. But unlike some, Chef Hilbert has a mastery of techniques and technologies enabling it to play on textures to magnify the flavors. Perhaps the result of his knowledge of pastry or a true “team effort” with his sous chef and friend Owen Clark … Who knows!

Seeing his “cuisine” for the first time, we are struck by its beauty, by an unique image that hides a great complexity.

Q+A WITH JUSTIN HILBERT (www.gwynnettst.com ):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

JHilbert– We try and use whatever is in season and products we can find locally. For the most part we focus on a key ingredient and highlight it in several cooking methods or textures adding complementing notes, the main focus is balance and harmony.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

JHilbert– I love the flavors of birch and spruce. When I was a child I loved birch beer. There is this brand of soda from Pennsylvania my father would always buy when I was a kid that I loved. So, whenever my parents come to dinner at the restaurant they always bring me some. It reminds me of my youth.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

JHilbert– My sous chef Owen Clark. He’s been a dear friend for quite sometime. Also, the team of chefs here at the restaurant. Sometimes during service I stop and think to myself how grateful I to have such a quality group of inspired individuals working with me. I feel very blessed to have them here and keeping them excited is what inspires me most.

4-(Scoffier) You worked in pastry at WD-50 with Alex Stupak. Do you have two roles at Gwynnetts St.: Executive chef and pastry chef?

JHilbert– Yes, I suppose I’m the pastry chef as well. I have always wanted to be part of everything in the kitchen, pastry always interested me just as much as savory. When I got to WD-50, Wylie didn’t have any positions available. I mentioned that I knew a bit about pastry and Alex was looking for someone in that department. After a few days he offered me the position. I was out of my league at the time but I learned so much from him it was an amazing experience. Working with him and Rosio Sanchez was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in cooking professionally.

5-(Scoffier) How do you develop your recipes at Gwynnetts St.? What are your source(s) of inspiration ?

JHilbert- We draw inspiration from everything a lot of it has to do with what is at that market. My mind gets stuck on an ingredient and then the focus becomes composing a dish based around it.

6-(Scoffier) The aesthetics of your “cuisine” is superb, are you thinking about this in the preparation of the menu?

JHilbert– Sometimes I envision a dish in my head before it even goes on the plate. Aesthetics have always been important for me however, everything that goes on the plate is there for a reason every component needs to compliment the other. The idea is to create something that looks as good as it tastes the perception of value is just as important to me as the quality of ingredients.

7-(Scoffier) I know your sous chef (Owen Clark) is important to you and has a good knowledge of foraging. Is it hard for you to buy (and find) locally?

JHilbert– The most frustrating thing is that we get some really cool things in from different people that are short lived. We get really excited when we find new things and work them into a dish and then before we know it they’re out of season.

8-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Justin Hilbert at Gwynnetts St.?

JHilbert- Recipe: Milk, Mint and Green Strawberry

9-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?

JHilbert– I’d like to make this restaurant the best I possibly can. My goal is to keep creating new and interesting food that people enjoy, tell their friends about and come back again. Whatever comes with that will be greatly appreciated. I’ve been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to do so and for now my focus is set on cooking.

RECIPE: Milk, Mint and Green Strawberry

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INGREDIENTS & PROGRESSION RECIPE

For the mint cake:
-30g mint leaves
-300g whole eggs
-110g almond flour
-125g caster sugar
-40g cake flour
-2g salt

Procedure:
1. In a blender combine the mint leaves with the eggs and blend on high until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth.
2. Strain the mixture and place into an isi canister. Charge twice and refrigerate for a few hours.

For the mint gel:
-700g water
-200g sugar
-200g liquid glucose
-9g agar agar
-100g mint leaves

Procedure:
1. Place the water in the blender and add the agar agar. Blend for one minute to ensure hydration. Place in a pot along with the glucose and sugar. Bring to a boil.
2. Place the mint leaves in a blend and add the boiling liquid. Blend until smooth. Quickly strain the mixture into an ice bath add whisk until set. Allow the agar to set and return to the blender and blend until smooth, strain and refrigerate.

For the milk streusel:
-200g dry nonfat milk solids
-250g flour
-250g caster sugar
-10g salt
-200g butter cubed very cold

Procedure:
1. Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add the butter in slowly until incorporated. 2. Place on a try lined with bakers paper and chill. Bake at 275F for 40-45 minutes until firm but not colored. Cool and store in an airtight container.

For the milk sorbet:
-600g full fat high quality farmers milk
-200g dry non fat milk solids
-100g corn maltodextrin
-200g sorbet base
-2 sheets gelatin
-2g sorbet stabilizer

For the sorbet base:
-1000g water
-800g caster suagr
-20g trimoline
-200g atomized glucose
( place in a pot bring to a boil and chill)

Procedure:
1. Place the milk, maltodextrin and milk powder in a blender and blend until smooth. Bloom the gelatin sheets in ice water for 10 minutes. Bring the sorbet base to a boil add the gelatin. 2. Blend the milk and slowly add in the sorbet base. Turn the blend to high and add in the sorbet stabilizer. Strain and chill in an ice bath. 3. Once cold place the mixture in a Pace Jet beaker and freeze over night.

For the green strawberry leather:
-300g green strawberries
-30g atomized glucose
-30g green strawberry pickling liquid

Procedure:
1. Place the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. 2. Spread the mixture onto acetate and dehydrate for two hours. Remove and store in an airtight container.

For the sweet pickled green strawberriess:
-200g green strawberries
-50g white wine vinegar
-100g caster sugar
-100g water
-2 sprigs of mint

Procedure:
1. Place the sugar, water, vinegar and mint in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiled strain the liquid into an ice bath. 2. Place the strawberries in vacuum bags 50g per bag adding 20g of liquid per bag. Seal on the highest setting ,refrigerate and reserve.

To finish:
1. Make five slits in a paper cup around the bottom. Fill the cup 1/3 of the way up with the cake batter and microwave for thirty seconds. 2. Spin the sorbet in the Paco Jet one full cycle and return to the freezer. 3. Place the cake on a place and garnish with remaining ingredients finish with the sorbet.

FURTHER INFORMATION

GWYNNETT ST./Chef Justin Hilbert
312 Graham Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11211
www.gwynnettst.com

PRESS
1. New York Times, Review by Peter Wells, April 3, 2012
2. New Yorker, Tables for Two, June 4, 2012
3. Business Week, Review by Ryan Sutton, Sept 12, 2012

NOTE: Copyright for the photos: Gwynnett St. Restaurant

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2012

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ChefSebastianPersson+Ola Rudin/Photo:Per-Anders Jorgensen

THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: OLA RUDIN + SEBASTIAN PERSSON

(SWEDISH) Den nordiska vågen” kallas den grupp kockar från Skandinavien, framförallt från Sverige, Danmark och Norge, som under de senaste åren förknippats med det nya nordiska köket. Åtta ledande kockar kommer härmed att presenteras i en serie på tre delar. Först ut Magnus Ek från Oaxen och Ola Rudin/Sebastian Persson från TRIO.

The Nordic Waves is the term I used to describe this group of chefs from all of Scandinavia, mainly from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. These chefs known for 3-4 years at international level have particularly been at the forefront over the past two years due to the recognition of New Nordic Cuisine and the emphasis on a cuisine close to nature and the local products. All this, without relying on the status attained by the restaurant Noma and Chef René Redzepi. But beyond fashions and trends of the moment, I discovered a high concentration of young chefs, innovative, creative, open to the world and all dedicated to their garden!

Ola Rudin and Sebastian Persson are aged 30 years and all the two were born in the small town of Åkarp suburb of Malmö. Captivated by the kitchen very young, only after a stint with Charlie Trotter and WD-50 (for Ola Rudin), they return to Sweden to open the restaurant TRIO (Malmö).

The cuisine at four (4) hands of TRIO out of the ordinary, it is a perfect blend of techniques, harmonies and strong aesthetic staff to the local product. Our two chefs work with small producers in the region, a research center and in their garden to make this small restaurant of just twenty chairs, one place stop for foodies worldwide, and possibly the future of the Nordic cuisine!

(Interview at the time of TRIO)

Q+A WITH OLA RUDIN (http://www.saltimporten.com ):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

ORudin- We combine perfect produce with modern culinary techniques and traditional cooking methods. The beautiful nature of Skåne (the region in the south of Sweden) is a great source of inspiration for us, as well as a superb source of magnificent ingredients.

We have created our own form of elegant regional cuisine; a top grade dining experience with a personal touch, where innovative uses of ingredients meet pure and natural flavours. We prefer to work with ingredients from the Nordic countries, since the fresh air and cool climate make the flavours develop a greater depth.

On top of this we have also made a great effort in finding the very best distributors who work in a smaller scale. All of them represent absolute top quality and share a deep passion for their products.

The major part of our menu is based on organic and biodynamic products.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

ORudin- We use a lot of different pickled and preserved raw ingredients that we pick at their peak during the spring and summer season.

Also on the menu we always have fish and shellfish of exceptional quality from the Nordic region.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

ORudin- Tomas Drejing the previous chef at Petri Pumpa was a pioneer to what now is known as The New Nordic Cuisine” and is still to this day a role model for me and the type of natural cuisine that we work with using local products from the south of Sweden but also from the nearby Nordic countries.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

ORudin- Wild berries and herbs growing next to each other in the forest like lingonberries/blueberries and woodsorrel.

5-(Scoffier) What do you eat when you are at home?

ORudin- In the wintertime simple rustic traditional swedish homecooking like slowcooked braised meats and soups. And for the summertime and spring herring, fish and shellfish and vegetables in season.

Scalloptromso/Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen

6-(Scoffier) I know that you worked at WD-50 (New York) with Wylie Dufresne, what do you have learn of this great chef?

ORudin- At wd50 we worked with different textures and the technique behind it. Wylie taught me among many great things to see the endless possibilities in simple things like a carrot for example, and how you can turn a great idea in combination with different flavor components techniques and textures in to something unique with a creative mind.

7-(Scoffier) Do you are part of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto initiated by Claus Meyer and Rene Redzepi (Noma). If yes, are you as strict (just local products) that Rene Redzepi in your recipes? Example: no olives oil etc.

ORudin- We are not signed into the “New Nordic Manifesto” but we do use only local products and no olive oil etc.

8-(Scoffier) I know that the chef Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. Do you spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces?

ORudin- The raw ingredient is always our main focus and we work only with the very best local products in season. We spend a lot of time looking for new products and purveyors. On occasion we go and visit farms, and walk in the fields with our vegetable suppliers to carefully select our products. We also pick our own wild growing herbs, mushrooms and berries and we have a piece of land just outside the city where we grow some of our own vegetables from rare seeds that we get from the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, Alnarp that normally is impossible to find.

9-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from molecular gastronomy or from new technology in cooking techniques? If yes, which?

ORudin- We see all gastronomy as molecular and we use it only to improve the final result of cooking a raw ingredient or to obtain a desired texture. We never use molecular gastronomy only in order to change or modify the natural flavors or textures and we do not use any artificial additives. Our most common use is immersion circulator for slow poaching proteins sous-vide.

10-(Scoffier) What is the importance of wine pairings in your menu at Trio? Can you explain the way to construct your tasting menu?

ORudin- We spend a lot of time to carefully select wines and beverages from small natural and biodynamic producers. Our wines and beverages usually comes from cool climate areas where they develop strong unique character similar to the plants,vegetables and wild berries and herbs growing in the Nordic region. We try to create a reaction that enhances the food and wine experience and takes the combination to another level.

For example sometimes we leave out an element in a dish and pick it up in the wine to make a perfect match.

11-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipes (Signature dish) that is characterized the cuisine of Trio and you?

ORudin- See the recipe Organic Egg.

12-(Scoffier) Why do you choose Malmö to open your restaurant? And Malmö is more influenced by Copenhagen or Stockholm?

ORudin- Malmö is my hometown and while working abroad for many years I developed a strong feeling and a need to go back. I wanted to work with the local products from the region I have grown up in and with the flavours that I know and love from my childhood. Malmö as a city is also going thru big changes and will in the near future be even more connected to Copenhagen.

TRIO/Photo:Per-Anders Jorgensen

13-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as a chef or for the restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show?

ORudin- Our goal is to develop Trio in to an internationally known restaurant with high quality standards. We want to continue to work closely with local producers of to quality products. We want to work with the peoples shares our vision and passion about biodynamic and environmental friendly production of meats and vegetables as well as wine and other beverages and help us make our dreams come true.

Further on in the future lays plans about moving out on the countryside having our own land our own animal farm and eventually one day write the book about Trio.

RECIPE: Organic Egg, Bone Marrow Powder, Chicken Skin & Chared Leeks

Organic Egg/Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen

INGREDIENT & PROGRESSION RECIPE

-4 Organic chicken eggs

-50 gr. rendered fat from vealbone marrow

-50 gr. maltodextrine

-3 gr. of fine ground sea salt

-4 large pieces cleaned chicken skin

-Fine ground sea salt

-20 gr. rinsed chickweed

-1 small leek

1. Trim off the ends of the leek cut it length wise and rinse it. Pick the leek apart and put it on an oven tray, char the leeks at 175 degrees Celsius for 1 hour until black.

2. Using immersion circulator. Poach the eggs at 63,5 degrees Celsius for about 30 min depending on the size until the egg yolk takes on a slightly firm and elastic texture, stop the cooking of the eggs in a ice water bath.

3. Place the chicken skins on a non-stick mat on a oven tray and stretch them out. Sprinkle with salt and put another mat on top. Place another oven tray on top and a flat stone to weigh it down, bake in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius until crisp and golden brown 45 min.

4. Melt the rendered fat from bone marrow and keep it at room temperature. Add the salt. Put the maltodextrine. In a bowl add the bone marrow fat slowly while whisking until you get a slightly damp but fluffy powder.

5. Before serving, reheat the eggs to 60 degrees Celsius.

6. Assemble the dish as shown on picture. Serve.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

-Spring 2012, Saltimporten Canteen,
Hulkajen
Grimsbygatan 24
Malmö, Sweden

-February 2011- The excellent TRIO close to work on a new project. To make a small tribute at Ola Rudin and Sebastian Persson, here are the short and beautiful (and creative) video directed by the photographer Per-Anders Jörgensen:

-Review :
1. Nowness, May 27, 2013

2. Bon Appetit, January 22, 2013
3. Review, Gastrosontour Blog,
Septembre 2009 : http://gastrosontour.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/trio/

4. OMNIVORE Festival 2010: http://www.omnivore.fr/?p=3739

Tous droits réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2013

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