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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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Bay Leaves

Californian Chef Leif Hedendal Forages a Micro-Seasonal Meal

San Francisco-based chef Leif Hedendal creates an exclusive meal for NOWNESS with ingredients foraged locally in the Bay Area, from Laird’s Landing in Point Reyes and Slide Ranch in West Marin. In the resulting photo series by Jake Stangel, the delicate petals and leaves of pennyroyal, lemon balm and bachelor buttons feature alongside the more robust flavors of lardo, abalone and oysters. Hedendal has always operated across both food and art worlds, exploring those points where the two converge. This August he is taking up residency on artist-run Rabbit Island, in Lake Superior, and in September he will be feeding those artists aboard Doug Aitken’s cross-country train project, Station to Station. The chef has staged in the kitchens of Noma and Chez Panisse, and in 2008 created Dinner Discussion, a bi-coastal dinner series where invitees have included designer Yves Behar, his partner, the art advisor, Sabrina Buell, and food-centric artist, Jennifer Rubell. "The next one will be hosted by Alice Waters, which is pretty special,” he says. "I want to put together a curatorial project where I commission new work by artists doing dinner-based work.” Shot at the J.B. Blunk House, with its majestic views of the Pt. Reyes seashore, our shoot looks at those flora that form the basis of Leif’s signature dishes. "These days it would definitely be wild flowers and medicinal herbs. You will be eating ingredients you have never heard of before.”

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Spotlight

Nordic Food Lab x Pestival

Six-Legged Delicacies Tantalize Foodies at London's Wellcome Collection

Moth mousse whipped with hazelnut milk, cricket broth with a side of grasshopper garum sauce and a liquorice-glazed ant stick reveal their unexpectedly delicious side in this still-life series by photographer Joss McKinley. Served up by cutting-edge culinary research institute Nordic Food Lab, the experimental menu is part of the Wellcome Collection's Who’s the Pest? season, a collaboration with a mobile arts “Pestival” in celebration of all things six-legged. Paving the way for a new ethical - and aesthetic - code for food, the Copenhagen-based kitchen-cum-laboratory is the brainchild of Noma super-chef René Redzepi, and sits in a houseboat across the harbor from his two Michelin-starred sensation. Born out of Redzepi’s quest to tap into more local and underused ingredients, it is a forum in which chefs meet scientists, chemists and academics on a shared mission to explore the 1,400 untapped wholesome crawling creatures that are edible to man. “Roasted grasshoppers are a great place to start,” says Ben Reade, head of research and development, of introducing the food's full-bodied natural flavors to more squeamish Western palates. "They're simple to make and are an excellent beer snack served with mayonnaise." It may not be long before we see them filtering into the kitchens of world-renowned restaurants, either, with Noma making waves by serving a bed of ants at their pop-up at London's Claridge’s last year. “I think in 2023," adds Reade, “we’ll be asking ourselves why we didn’t eat more insects in 2013.”

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