Walking into greatness I did not know what to expect. Would I be put in the basement peeling carrots, or would I be mentored by the masters. Luckily it was the latter.
Changing into the kitchen attire, I could only dream, has David Chang worn this uniform? Colicchio? Benno? Canora? The amount of culinary talent that has worked in Gramercy Tavern is mind-blowing. The next "culinary rock star" could easily be honing their skills right now under Chef Michael Anthony's supervision.
Climbing up the stairs to the kitchen I felt like the young Achatz did when he arrived at The French Laundry for his first day of work (By no means am I comparing myself to Chef Grant Achatz, I am just using his story as an example). I was nervous and excited to say the very least.
I was asked to finely chop parsley, tarragon, and dill until I filled seven pint containers, that is a lot of herbs. It was my first impression on the cooks so I had to make sure I was going as fast as humanely possible. Once all of the herbs were cut I cleaned my temporary station until it was clean to the point where a surgical procedure could take place. You will never see a mess in kitchens of this level.
After I finished my minimal tasks I was greeted by the Executive Chef Michael Anthony. He gave me a tour of the whole restaurant and explained the philosophy behind the cuisine. "The food at Gramercy Tavern has to be as local and as seasonal as possible" Chef Michael Anthony continues, "We don't use any crazy ingredients, we just use what is best and is in season right now". Then, Chef Michael Anthony and I talked about career options and how the food is produced at Gramercy Tavern. He was so nice and spent a lot of time with me, which I really appreciated.
Once service began I was issued to go up to the pass and watch the restaurant do it's thing. One of the sous chefs was expediting and taught me how it is done at Gramercy Tavern. Meanwhile, the kitchen was sending me tastings of numerous dishes on the menu, which was extremely kind. Everything, and I mean everything was delicious. A perfect dish of Shrimp and Grits was the apex. The flawlessly cooked shrimp were buttery and sweet; paired with impeccable grits it was one of the best bites of my life. Furthermore, a plate of unilaterally seared Nantucket bay scallops served with cauliflower, capers, and almonds was divine. Straight forward flavors executed with masterful technique always produces enticing food.
I was asked to help plate food for a private party and of course I lent a hand. At first I was really nervous because I did not want to screw up, but swiftly the nerves vanished and I was able to execute skillfully. I plated about six of the plates for the first course, which each had about 20 separate vegetable garnishes and sauces. For the main course I also aided in plating components for both the lamb and sea bass - I had a phenomenal time assisting the staff.
After saying my quick good-byes it was unfortunately time to go. Chef Michael Anthony invited me to trail another service in the near future, and without a doubt I will be back. Hopefully, I get to spend a good amount of time developing my skills in this famous kitchen; if only I could drive.......