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July 26, 2014

Dining Al Fresco: Le Fooding

Chefs Ludo Lefebvre and Christina Tosi Revel in a Nostalgic Afternoon Picnic on Rockaway Beach

“In Burgundy, where I’m from, we were very close to nature; we used to eat sandwiches and salads prepared by my grandmother under the trees,” says tattooed master chef Ludo Lefebvre, joining a roster of rotating culinary wizards at Le Fooding’s annual New York bash on Rockaway Beach’s boardwalk. “And when we went hunting we had picnics in the cabin with cassoulet, pâtés and ratatouille.” A playful and sunny affair just steps away from the ocean, the three-day series saw guests dine at brightly painted communal tables to the sounds Jonah Bechtolt and Claire Evans of Yacht on the decks. While Lefebvre prepared veal breast with an airy parmesan cream, dried olives and artichokes, and bonito tuna, urging everyone to “eat with your hands,” the food-happy crowd also lined up for Andrew Field’s cornmeal crostini sopes with grilled fish, crema and guacamole, in the style of his legendary Rockaway Tacos just a few blocks away. “Whenever you’re on a beach, near the sand, it sparks up childhood memories,” says Field, a central figure in the beach’s post-Sandy reconstruction. “Rockaway also reminds me of the New York I grew up in––the community spirit, the multiculturalism.” As for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, she dreamt up milk-and-cereal and sour cream-grapefruit-lime popsicles, which everyone happily licked while dancing to the sounds of the New York Brass Band. The inspiration came from memories of bright summer days with her family. “I grew up in Virginia and we’d always hang out in the backyard and eat very fresh, light, effervescent dishes.”

Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Ultimate Picnic Playlist

The Clash – “The Magnificent Seven”
New Order – “Blue Monday”
Pixies – “Hey”
Stromae – “Moules Frites”
NTM – “La Fièvre”
Téléphone – “Un Autre Monde”
The Velvet Underground & Nico – “Heroin”

Check out Dining Al Fresco at Petersham Nurseries and Kurobuta.

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Yannick Alléno: The French Revolution

The Parisian Chef Reimagines Modern Cuisine From the Heights of the Alps

“The rhythm of French cuisine has always been dictated by its jus and its sauces—that’s what its DNA is made of, but it’s time to blur the lines,” says award-winning chef Yannick Alléno, the subject of this new short by French filmmaker Frédéric Guelaff. Heard among the incidental sounds of Alpine winds and feet trudging through snow, Alléno narrates the philosophy behind his relaunch of 1947, the top restaurant at the Cheval Blanc hotel in the winter paradise of Courchevel. The gastronomic créateur recently announced his departure from the prestigious Hôtel Meurice, a Parisian palace for which he earned three Michelin stars, to dedicate himself to this high-altitude culinary refuge designed by interior architect Sybille de Margerie, who dressed the locale in white leather and coriander green finishings. Known for pushing research into taste and texture as far as possible, Alléno's current obsession is “extraction,” a new cooking technique that optimizes flavor beyond compare. The results are advanced foods like truffled bread and essence of smoked parmesan, cooked in a vacuum and followed up with “cryoconcentration” to make a powerful elixir that gives a granulated texture to pure liquid. Is this molecular cuisine at its peak? “Not at all,” he says. “I am just thinking about what modern cuisine should be. Everything is put into question and thought of in a new way.” 

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The Carnal Arts

Francis Bacon Inspires a Crimson Portrait of London’s Newman Street Tavern

Photographer Joss McKinley’s depictions of the sinewy foods stored in the underground meat room of London’s Newman Street Tavern chime with some of Francis Bacon’s distorted, blood-red works in today’s juxtaposed series. Bacon’s psychologically charged and carcass-filled canvases reflect on a disadvantaged period in post-war England. The artist saw beauty in the butcher’s shops and abattoirs he visited—a feeling that might be shared by the curious clientele who regularly tiptoe downstairs for a peek into the glass-walled basement of the metropolis’ newest gastronomic destination that is a short walk north from Bacon’s old haunt, Soho. “We try to know as much about where our food comes from as possible and we’re not shy about that,” says Head Chef and Partner Peter Weeden, whose versatile menu offers celebrated seafood dishes such as escabeche of scad alongside carnivorous options like blackface lamb and barley stew. With dry air circulated at a temperature of 36.5-37.4F (2.5-3C), the subterranean room’s contents are reduced to 85 percent of their mass within weeks, intensifying their complex, gamey flavors. The function of the establishment’s hanging meat display is as instructive as it is aesthetic. “We’re a kitchen that makes everything,” explains Weeden. “The meat’s visibility is important so that everyone realizes it’s part of that process.” McKinley’s close-ups evoke the “savage, distressing and historical” qualities he recalls experiencing in the presence of Francis Bacon’s paintings—just in time for Phaidon’s release of a new monograph dedicated to the British artist as part of its Phaidon Focus series. 

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