Thursday, December 15, 2011

Taking Worth Kitchen to Catering





First off, the feedback I received from my last post was simply.... amazing. Thank you all! You guys rock. You gave me crazy amount of momentum!

Now on to the next post. Many of you might not know, but for about 9 months I have taken the Worth Kitchen concept, wrapped it up and starting going out and doing a lot of private dinners and catering events. Its has all been going really great. Slow start, but various opportunities have come.

All of a sudden, December rolls around and in one weekend I have to feed about 450 people! WHAT?!?!?!?
I promise pictures will come. Today is the first event of three. I barely slept. My jaw is locked... Tends to happen with stress.
Can't wait for Tuesday when its all over!

As for what will happen with Worth Kitchen once the restaurant kicks off, I am keeping the brand up and running 100%. We will be doing private dinner parties within the restaurant once a month on a given Thursday. The same concept that we have kept alive, 5 course dinner with wine pairings. Along with this, I am keeping Worth Kitchen alive as a catering company. We have been (thankfully!) very successful and want to continue being able to offer the Worth Kitchen experience to others, no matter what size!

But anyways, just wanted to relieve some of the stress and nervous bugs going through me right now! So thank you again for sticking by!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

From Ideation to Execution


Ideation is always the easier part. Saying, I want to do this or I could build that slips out of our mouth because the power of our mind is limitless. We can build universes in our head, but what becomes the hardest part of it all is the actual creation & execution of said ideas. How many times have you said, I am going to do, build or create something and never actually go through with it?
Well, this time around I decided that it was going to be different for me. I am not going to be the one that says “Yes, I am going to at some point open up a restaurant.” But I instead want to be the one that actually makes it happen, and make it happen in a way that is successful not only in a business way but also in a experiential way.

With that said, I present to you a Cómodo, a restaurant that invites you into the living room of a Latin American home.



NY has been introduced (and has fallen in love) with Latin American street food. Tacos al pastor, elotes on a stick, arepas, and many other Latin American nibbles have become part of NYC foodies’ language. But this is just the beginning, and the city is ready for something more, a deeper connection to Latin American food. Cómodo will invite its guests into the Latin American home, where they’ll taste the art behind a Latin American dinner party. It will be about the food but it will also go beyond the food, into the experience. It will be social, the way dinner parties are, good food, extraordinary wine and conversations that go deep into the night. Guests will savior the sobremesa and will strike that magic hour after a meal where the best and deepest stories are shared around a table. The food will be prepared with care, seasonality will be considered, a higher level cooking technique will be applied and bright Latin American colors will paint the plates.  Guests will come in and forget about time, the hours will pass and they will leave with a satisfaction in their hearts, stomachs and their souls. 

And so it begins. The true tales of how to open a restaurant in New York and the full process of making it happen will be told and shared. The project will hopefully be up and running very soon. I will eventually also have a kickstarter page up and running. But for the moment I am seeking funding for management partners as well as investors. If interested or know anyone that would be, please let me know!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back by Popular Demand!

WORTH KITCHEN 

&

CITY GRIT

WE ARE BACK FOR MORE SOUTHERN COMFORT!


After our awesome mash-up success, we are back due to popular demand. Worth Kitchen & City Grit meet up to put together an awesome dinner of Souther Comfort food on October 6th.
Being that both chefs are from Columbia/Colombia - Sarah from Columbia, South Carolina and Felipe Donnelly of Worth Kitchen from Colombia, South America - they're teaming up to put together a menu of their favorite "southern" comfort foods.
Purchase your tickets here (please make sure to click on the "SOUTHERN COMFORT WITH WORTH KITCHEN" event. October 6th.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

SOUTHERN COMFORT

WORTH KITCHEN
&

CITY GRIT


The reason why comfort food taste so good is because its cooked with heart, it uses flavors, ingredients and recipes that have survived years and years, their memory so strong it is still ingrained in our heart, our brains, our bellies.
Chef Sarah Simmons and Chef Felipe Donnelly are joining forces and brining together their most favorite comfort foods from the South. Sarah will be drawing from the US Southern experience, and Felipe from the South American experience, primarily Brazil and Colombia, the two countries most representative of his youth.  While these regions could not be more different, there are universal elements of comfort food that bring us back to the simple, happy times, puts warmth in our hearts and makes us nostalgic (even giggly) about our youth. So come prepared to be drawn back into the past and with new and unexpected flavors and combinations, also be ready to be put back into our contemporary, ever changing and evolving present times.
Purchase your tickets here



Friday, August 5, 2011

Imagining Freshness...

That feeling of serving the last plate and opening up a bottle of wine to sit down with the guests is priceless! I am still savoring it right now.
The night was fantastic, we continued our latest venture of smaller intimate dinners all seated in one long table. The crowd was amazing! Thank you to all the guests for making it such a great experience. I hope you all felt at least a little bit refreshed when the night was over.

I leave you with a picture from last night's appetizer...

Stuffed zucchini blossom with goat cheese and herbs lightly fried in a white wine batter. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Fresh Take on Summer


Walking down the streets of New York with a breeze that blows at a higher temperature than what the actual thermometers read, we are brave souls living and moving through one of the most intense city heats.
Now, Imagine something fresh…

The next Worth Kitchen dinner party will be all about bringing in the fresh. We will make you think, imagine, and feel freshness all around you and in everything you eat. Also to play a part will be the freshest wines paired up with a 5-course meal.

Make sure to join us on Thursday August 4th at 8 PM where 25 perfect strangers will attempt to fight the heat.

Buy your tickets here 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Weeks to Training

So after a very busy day yesterday, I dropped by the construction of Sidewalk (no pictures, sorry I will have some up soon!) and the kitchen equipment had just arrived. Very exciting.

Friday I have my final tasting with the owners, GM and cooks. So far it has been very interesting to see what happens at the tastings. In the last one I had, about 4 weeks ago, I did a lot of last minute improvising. To be totally honest, I do not think it worked as well. So for the past 4 weeks, I have been cooking non stop. Experimenting and getting the recipes down perfectly. From very simple chicken wings, to much more elaborate pastas and others. The final menu is due next Tuesday.

Here was my take on the chicken schnitzel with a beet & feta cheese salad and french fries. It came out delicious, but only after 4 tries to get it all right.
This version was done with pank bread crumbs (I ran out of the other normal bread crumbs)
And this, at the end of the day, is the basic menu staples. You can also expect some very fun dishes. Plus my own version of pulled pork with a homemade BBQ sauce... Its going to be awesome.

In two weeks I begin to train the kitchen staff on all my recipes. We have two weeks of hard work to get it all straight before our soft launch. By beginning of next month expect me to be going insane. How crazy is this. I am loving it so far.

If any of you are around NYC during August, please stop by and let me know what you think. Its my official cherry pop in the NYC restaurant circle, so I am as nervous as I am excited.

Any other proper tips, recommendations or ideas? Let me know.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A year later... Where are we now?

Working hard with my amazing partner, best friend and wife! What an amazing first year of marriage it has been!
In May of 2010, Tamy and myself begun an amazing and totally unpredictable experiment which turned into Worth Kitchen. We promised you one full year of dinners at our house and we completed that promise plus we added awesome dinner parties for up to 60 people.

Here are some quick stats for you number lovers:
We have had about 252 people at our house. Out of that 252, about 75% were total strangers
I cooked 151 different dishes (most were a great succes, but not all!)
Created 48 different menus
Generated about $1,560 for various charities through some of our dinners

The year has been crazy!

It started as a hobby, but here I am one year later doing this for a living! Who would've thought?!?!
So It is now my responsibility with all of you to share what has been going on in my life and with Worth Kitchen the last couple of months and since our little Department of Health visit...

As of recent I am working with an East Village legend, Sidewalk Cafe. This place is a live music institution, one of those places that still has the '80s East Village grit, in a good way. As of March 2011, Sidewalk closed for serious renovations. I was approached with the amazing opportunity to come in as a consultant chef and develop the menu for this restaurant. You see, they want to step into a very new direction as far as the food is concerned. I took this as an fantastic opportunity to be able to practice more seriously in the restaurant industry before I took the huge risk of opening a Worth Kitchen restaurant. The menu at Sidewalk Cafe is taking shape and the food that will be coming out is something that I will be very proud of! (I call it "what happens to American food once it has gone the NY treatment") We will also be hosting an event at the Sidewalk Cafe soon enough, so please send me an email so I can send you an invite. Least to say, I am very excited.

And following that... well I guess you have to wait and see. I will be posting regularly from now on. Focusing on the adventures of creating a menu and launching a restaurant. Also, I will be tweeting for Sidewalk Cafe for a while, so follow me on my adventures here.

I know I have said it many times, but Thank You. Thanks to all of you for believing in what we do together and joining us on this amazing road.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Intimacy of Dining

Image courtesy of Tom Ajello via Instagram
During our latest dinner, at one point, Tamy and myself took a step back and asked, how did this work out so well?


Well, previous to this night we had come to the agreement that we needed to bring the dinners back to its roots. What was it that made our original dinners so amazing? It wasn’t just the idea that you were entering a stranger’s apartment to have a dinner with unknown people, but it was the idea that you were going to enjoy a great meal in an intimate setting with strangers. Well, this time around we decided to try something new. Instead of having a dinner for 50 people (as we have had done various times in the past) all seating in 6 different tables, we invited 26 guests and sat them all in one long table. The results were amazing.  Finally it felt as if we could somehow interact with all the guests easily and the feeling was very intimate, almost as if everyone got a chance to meet each other.

We never influence the interaction that all the guests are having amongst themselves, but we can definitely add the catalyst for the best interaction. The more intimate settings helps to break down the social barriers easier. Even though we love having the dinners for 50 or 60 and will continue to have those in the future, we loved having these intimate dinners and you can expect many more to come your way!

Next dinner, July 28th... stayed tuned for much more information.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Small Productions Big Taste!

The menu for the June 2nd dinner.
On June 2nd we had the privilege of being hosts to an extraordinary wine distributor called Noble Grape Wines. They have stepped out of the traditional distribution model and really done something amazing. When I think of distribution, especially in the US, I think of a huge white semi rig transporting huge pallets of items. And in many cases, this has been the process for wines in the US. More volume, more sales, more profit. What you miss out on though is the bare essence of the wine making experience. The hard working families that spend their entire lives working on the spectacular wines, every single grape that is in their vineyard goes through their hands. The quality that results is usually spectacular. But we never get to see them because the distribution network is too vast for them to ever make an imprint.

This is where Noble Grape steps in. Their mission is really to take true value in the small wine producer and bring the product into the market and into the hands of the everyday consumer. Their mission statement is:
At Noble Grape Wines, we hand-select high-quality wines produced in limited quantities from the very best regions of the world. For two generations and over three decades, we continue to embark on discovering artisan wineries led by single wine makers that must practice indigenous fermentation methods, sustainable farming approaches, and organic and/or biodynamic principles. The result is our edited selection of thoughtfully made wines of the highest quality and integrity, which are well-balanced in alcohol, acidity and tannins and predisposed to helping nurture and sustain a healthy body and lifestyle.


On our June 2nd event, we had the honor of receiving 4 of the wines they represent:

  1. Mandragola 2006 by Azienda Agricola Paolo Cali' (Frapato)
  2. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC 2009 by Azienda Santa Barbara (Verdicchio)
  3. Terra de Casteani 2007 by Tenuta Casteani (Super Tuscan)
  4. Tatti 2009 by Tenuta Casteani (Sangiovese, Alicante & Merlot blend)
The wines were simply amazing and their reception amongst our guests was phenomenal.

Usually what I try to do is pair the wines with the food, but in this case, after having tried the wines before preparing the final dinner, I modified the recipes to fit the flavors of the wine. Not many times does this happen, but when it does, it usually offers an amazing experience overall.

Overall we were very happy with the results from the wines and the night turned out to be extremely memorable!

More on the night to follow.

Thank you Noble Grape Wines for allowing us to try your amazing wine selections. Keep your mission alive!

Think big of the small...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Join us for Dinner!


Our next event is getting closer and we still have some seats available. The 5 course meal will be influenced on Peruvian cooking, so you can expect to have some amazing and very different food!

Click on this link to purchase your ticket or copy and paste the following URL https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/177751

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Amazing video from Tripfilms.com




Our friend Kelley Ferro from Tripfilms.com created this amazing video of her experience at one of our Thursday's at Worth St. It was a chilly day in December, but we had such an amazing time with them.

Please enjoy and let us know your thoughts!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cinco de Mayo - Event Menu & Wine

~Please click on the image to view full size~
Another dinner has come and gone... and what an amazing one it was. This time around we took the full menu very personally. Worth Kitchen decided to take an American celebration of Mexican culture and bring real Mexican cuisine and wine to everyone. We had the pleasure to serve 50 people in the beautiful SoHo penthouse loft. The menu was inspired not only by street food, but by traditional food you would find in a Mexican home. We decided to take Cinco de Mayo back and celebrate its true flavors.  5 courses spanning the wide variety of food in the country, starting with a ceviche and ending with a tres leches cake with a hibiscus sorbet.

But the food was not the only part of the dinner. In fact the most amazing part was the fact that we were joined by a small boutique winery from the north of Mexico. Bodega Rivero González  shared 5 of their amazing wines (see menu above for full details). Their wine was, for lack of better words, amazing and completely unexpected. The reception for them was amazing as people fell in love with the wine and the very creative bottle designs. If you ever have a chance, please check out their wines. Well worth it.

Another Mexican aspect of the night was art from a very talented young Mexican artist Karen Dana. Her concept of using small pieces in large spaces worked beautifully. All her pieces following the theme of the night, food and dinner, were exceptional and brought a great vibe to the night.

To everyone that was a part of the magical night, thank you. We hope to see you all again at one of our dinners.

Stay tuned for more of our up coming events!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Worth Kitchen on Vegetarians

For us it is not only our pleasure but a very fun challenge to always provide a vegetarian option for all of our guests. As we just wrapped up our Cinco de Mayo event, it was very fun to figure out a delicious option for our veggie loving guests. Our goal is to make the plate look as close to the omnivore options. Why make the vegetarians feel like they are having a completely different meal?

Well, we think the word has spread around, because the amount of vegetarians that have been coming to our events have been increasing more and more. From having one or two per night to having 11 in one seating is phenomenal. All I can say is that we love having you you at our events!

Check out the amazing review that Jesal from Veggiewala wrote about her experience in the St. Patrick's events in March. 

We look forward to many more vegetarians at our dinners.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Parting With Such Sweet Sorrow...



The time has come my dear friends to say goodbye to Thursdays at Worth Street.

Not only has our year long experiment just celebrated its one year anniversary,  but the Department of Health has let us know that we can no longer continue having dinners open to the public in our apartment, cooked from our kitchen. Even though we never charged for these dinners, we were still "putting at risk the health of the public." Two weeks ago we got served with the notice to cease and desist all activity at our apartment and get our permits in order.

But fear not my friends! Worth Kitchen will continue its life! Thursdays at Worth Street may have come to an end, but Worth Kitchen will continue to have its amazing dinner parties. (We now have our permits in order!)

Also we are on the search for a new location where the intimate dinners can continue. Stay tuned for more information...

In the meantime, to all of those who have participated in our Thursday dinners... from the bottom of my heart, Thank You! Without you we would have never achieved any of this! For all the laughter, for all the crying, the amazing stories, the nutty people... this was for you! Thank you...

Be on the look out for our next event "Funeral For a Friend" for all of our past guest so we can all together bid our farewell to Thursdays at Worth Street and rejoice in the future of Worth Kitchen. Oh so many plans to come! This is just the beginning of the incredible journey...

Stay tuned...

Please email us for more information and all of our upcoming dinners:
info@worthkitchen.com

Thank you all for your amazing support.

(We still have some post from past dinners that we need to post, all those will be coming soon!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Sneak Peek to Thursday's Dinner

So today I learned from Chef Joan Roca, from El Cellar de Can Roca, that icecream absorbs about 35% of aromas from its surroundings. So if you are smoking a cigarette while making icecream, it will absorb the smoke and that taste will reflect in the final product.

So that gave me an idea. Coincidentally I am making a rosemary lemon ice cream today for Thursdays dinner. I also have a big stick of sage and wild grass incense, which smells delicious when burnt. So I devised a way to get the smoke into the ice cream maker... Lets see what happens when the tastes merge!

And for everyone going to the dinner on Thursday,  please let me know your thoughts!

Smoked Ice Cream?

The make shift top lock in the smoke into the opening of the ice cream maker. The cold air of the machine creates a temperature inversion and lets hope the final product tastes great!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Creativity on its way to work


There was a time, not long ago, when creativity became 100% analytical and academic. As soon as we first discovered the word, we automatically fell in love with the concept of it. The more we studied it, the more fascinated we became with it. This fascination got creativity to be center stage at podiums, conferences, blogs. We became so mesmerized with the theory of it that its actual practicality took a back seat. Creativity became that gifted child everyone wanted to stare at, study and analyze. It was at  dinner #35, that I saw it is now finally being put back in motion, we have reached a time, when creativity is back in the drivers seat and if you want to get your hands on it, you’ll have to get them dirty.

Invited to our dinner were all kinds of creative types. Among them Michael Hastings Black, creative strategist for Apple, Maria Popova, founder of Brain Pickings, Caroline Potter, Chief dining Officer at Open Table and Curt Potter, Director of Branding at Blue Point Brewery. As we sat for dinner, the conversation could not have been more unpredictable. Before I knew it, all our guests were submerged in a conversation about farming. Caroline and Curt, we learned, make their own jellies and sauces in a small garden/farm at her Long Island residence. It turns out Maria and Michael had also done some farming themselves and were looking into doing some more of it in the future.  This instantly reminded me of a copywriter at my agency, who recently talked to me about his new found passion for butchering. It also made me think of myself, who has gone from thinking strategy to actually building plates, serving food and seeing the actual product come to life at every one of our dinners. Without me realizing it, just like our guests, I have now become a thinker AND a doer.

Now, could it be that our creative industry is finally getting their hands dirty? Are we starting to do just as much as we talk? Perhaps we’ll start solving more problems and creating more solutions. And while we keep imagining things that don’t yet exist, maybe we are starting to actually build them as well, in a way no one could have imagined. Let the era of creativity begin!

Thank you to our guest who fuel our imagination so that we continue building our ideas.

Friday, April 8, 2011

SPRING IS HERE!

Join us as Worth Kitchen helps bring in the warmer weather!

Thursday April 14th, Worth Kitchen will be celebrating spring the right way, with great food and amazing wine!

We would love it if you could join us!

Reserve your spot HERE

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Chef's Take on Foodies: Or Why We Love Daniel Boulud!

In a recent interview by Claire Sibonney from Reuters, Daniel Boulud (Daniel, Bar Boulud, etc) reflects on his life in the kitchen of some of the most famous and popular restaurants he has owned. He goes on to talk about certain food fads that he hates to love as well as what some of the latest ingredients he is playing with. All this is great fun, but there is one amazing quote from this interview that sets it apart from any other I have read.

Q: What do you say about the backlash against foodies and the self-indulgence they stand for?

A: "I think in France for example, we can say whatever we want about the French, but going out and dining is more about the intellectual moment to share with the people you dine with than trying to figure out what the chef did with that little piece of salmon or lobster and all that. It's more about the conversations, it's more about the privilege to share a moment with your friends and not be so obsessed with everything going into the plate and around it ... I think luxury and pampering and refinement and rarity in what you have stimulate your intellect. I take so much pleasure at seeing customers who are happy, happy with what they eat but happy with their friends and sharing a great moment together and I think that is more important in life than the endless pursuit of perfection."


It seems as if the questions was based off the recent uproar on an article from The Atlantic, "The Moral Crusade Against Foodies" however his answer was so on cue. A rare response from such a high end and respected chef. This is one of the reasons why we do what we do at Worth Kitchen. The food is just a means to create this intellectual and social stimulation. Trust me, the food is very important to us, and we push ourselves to deliver on quality and flavors that are expected (and hopefully unexpected as well), but by no means is the food the front and center of what we do. As he says:
"I take so much pleasure at seeing customers who are happy, happy with what they eat but happy with their friends and sharing a great moment together and I think that is more important in life than the endless pursuit of perfection"

Thank you Daniel for putting in words our very own manifesto!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Menu from the March 17 and 18 Events

As we were looking for a fun theme we ran into St. Patrick's Day. Our first plate was a ver specific ode to Ireland, from there on out almost every plate had the irish colors.

For everyone that was there, thank you for making the night so special! We had a great time. Its amazing what happens when you have such an amazing mix of people. 2 nights 40 people each night!

Enjoy the menu and many more pics and posts to come!

Click to view

Thursday, March 24, 2011

London in New York

It was one week during the winter where the weather was so foggy and rainy that it really felt as if we were on the other side of the pond. So we thought it was only right to pay homage to our English brethren... Worth Kitchen style.

We chose three traditional dishes and placed a unique twist on them.

  1. Fish and Chips - Tiraditos of flounder and tuna with blood oranges and red and gold beets fried
  2. Shepherd's Pie - Traditional recipe with ground lamb and added Mexican and Peruvian spices
  3. Toffee - Warm chocolate cake  with delicious toffee and toffee/vanilla ice cream
We lack some picture but you can see for yourself with what we have that it was a great success.
We had a great time with our friends from Apt 4 and Jenny for Grub Street!

Enjoy!

The tiraditos and the beets served as our Fish and Chips. Yes, I know it was a stretch but it was delicious!

The shepherd's pies were individually served with aji panca and a red wine reduction sauce.

And here they are, our friends and guest for the night!



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How the Dream Killed the Perception


As we prepared for a very big, very special, very important dinner at our apartment, thoughts of doubts mixed with excitement couldn’t help but rush into our heads. Felipe and I, each concentrated on our tasks. On my side of the assignments, there was the music, the table, flowers. On his side, the three dishes that would cause a NY magazine writer to have a reaction, to leave a mark, obviously a positive one. We never thought this project would get us this far, this fast, so anything from now onwards we consider a nice “extra”, including this particular night. This type of thinking makes it less stressful, but of course, it ends up being a stress reliever in theory more than in actuality. Truth be told, at the gut and at the heart, before each night, there is a certain level of hesitation, fear, and a bit of insecurity which is hard to shake off, especially in a night such as this one.

Felipe and I were strangely quiet, as the clock got closer to 8pm, time our guests would arrive. We heard a knock on the door and I reached for it. It was Dan Grossman, from Apt4. I felt strangely relieved and gave him a hug, which was more than unusual, considering we had never met, and he is practically our competition. Still, I felt a strange connection, as if he was on my side of the fence, knowing he has in the past, felt the exact hesitations and fears as I was feeling that night.  The rest of the Apt4 crew made their way in and we all clicked in a matter of seconds. Not even after finishing the first glass of wine, we all were very much synchronized. The doorbell rang again, this time, it was Jenny Miller, writer Grub Street. This time around, it was she who gave me an unexpected hug, now as if it was her who understood something we both shared and that I had yet to discover. I poured her a glass of wine and we all got to talking. It wasn’t long after, while recapping where people were from, that Jenny told us the story of a girl growing up in Portland, who always dreamed of writing for NY Magazine. That girl, of course was herself. It was amazing to hear her talk not about where she has gotten thus far, but about the effort that took to get there, and the determination to follow a passion and pursue a dream. In that journey of hers, I am sure lived the same types of hesitations, fears and insecurities, and that may have just been the thing that tied us together.

The rest of the evening was quite delicious, from the food to the conversations, the wine and the great company. But the one thing I will remember from that night was that moment, when we all got a sneak peak into the beginning of our stories and the time I realized, that before success, a person must have the magnificent ability to dream.

Thank you Jenny and the crew at Apt4, as always, its been a pleasure.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dinner #32 - Cold Winter Night with Some Comfort Food

For this dinner we were able to bring some very close friends as well as some strangers. The night was full of a very fun conversation and incredible comfort food.


The now famous croquetas with wild boar and fontina cheese. This was our second run with the croquetas and mastered the recipe. Later we replaced the wild boar with panceta, so good.

To add to the comfort food, I was able to create a personal favorite,  pasta ai frutti di mare. With a little added arrabbiata spice, just to heat up the night.
Another favorite, pumpkin creme brulee.
A lot of smiles, always the best sign for an amazing night! Oh and congratulations to Alonso and Alex on their recent engagement! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thinking Hurts, Don't Do It!


As we were having our last glass of wine and finishing up a delicious dessert Felipe had cooked up, one of our guest took a deep breath in and said: "I want to have dinner with this group every night".

But let me backtrack to this dinner's preparation, and why I wasn't expecting that beautiful comment to be coming out of any of our guests' mouths. As most of you already know, much of the Thursday experience lies in the connections amongst our guests. Whether romantic, professional, spiritual, we absolutely love it when connections happen at our dinner table. The pleasure of seeing these connections happen I think comes from how hard it is to craft these. First off, since we barely know most of our guests, or only know of them virtually, its hard to know which way its going to go, how they are socially and who they are going to click with. Secondly, these connections can't be over the top obvious, because then they become awkward, forced and plain boring.

How I usually go about finding strangers that can potentially connect:
What I try to do is ask our guests for their life "status", I asked them what's in their mind at the moment and whether professional or personal, what kind of project they are involved in. If I don't get around to asking that question, google is always a good friend! plus it isn't such a bad idea to research at least a little bit, about the strangers who are about to come over to our home. Facebook also can come in handy and help you put a face to a story and maybe even find some "friend of a friend" type of a connection. All of these tricks help us figure out people's personalities, who they are looking to connect with, and how Worth Kitchen might just be that unexpected place where that connection happens.

For dinner #33, I had absolutely no time to plan out the table and it sort of came together organically on its own. While I wasn't sure if the guests were one hundred percent right together, Felipe ensured me they were. How did he know this? INTUITION. While he knew two of the people invited, his hunch was that the entire table would come together very nicely, and that it did. Call it an act of randomness, or Felipe's strange (but almost 100% of the time accurate) intuition, but two of the girls invited shared something very special...they shared a best friend! It was unbelievable to us all! These two girls knew each other by name and by stories, of course, but their best friend "Sarah" had never gotten around to physically introduce the two of them.

As we said goodbye to our guests, it felt so good that no matter how much we could plan for these connections to happen, that they continue to take place regardless, and that this project has an element of randomness that cannot be planned, thought out or analyzed, it just is. It felt so good to think that no matter what happens, if we let this project a little loose, it will still take its beautiful course.

So let the randomness in and the analysis out. Cheers to enjoying the ride!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Worth Kitchen's Dinner Party - March 17th


Hello friends of Worth Kitchen!

We are organizing our very next dinner party for March and hope all of you can join us!

 Please see the link below to purchase your tickets.

http://wkmarch17.eventbrite.com

All I can share with you at this moment is, yes we know its St. Patrick's Day, but your chef is part Irish. So what better way to spend St. Patrick's day!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Story Truly Worthy of a Blog... Part 2 of The Crazy Day of Our First Big Event!

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read Part 1 of this story, I highly recommend it.

I now take you back to right outside the doors of Chelsea Market where yours truly just discovered that his wallet was missing, had no cash on him, therefore no way to make it back to the venue to continue cooking and to receive the delivery of 70 bottles of wine (oh, and in one hand he carried 70 perishable scallops):

Part 2 of  the Crazy Day of Our First Big Event!

In a flash, my mind shuts down and my brain takes over! Stop thinking start doing. Tamy works 11 blocks away. I need to run over to her office and pick up a credit card or cash. After 3 calls she does not answer. Must call Christina amazing friend and her co-worker. She answers. Thank God. I have $40 waiting for me at the reception. THANK YOU CHRISTINA. I get back to the venue, drop off the scallops and rush down to receive the wine. 

10 boxes fo wine is going to be a pain in the ass to take up, even with an elevator. As the wine is being carried up into the building, I hear a familiar voice "Felipe!" I turn around and see Daniel Mauser from Guanabee.com a long time friend, walking by. "Need a hand?" A smile grows on my face from ear to ear. 

Everything is ready, but I take a quick look at my watch. Its almost 4. DAMN! I need to run. I rush home. The smell of rosemary and short ribs lingers through the entire hall. The food is ready. I pull it from the oven and it is perfect. I spend another 45 minutes prepping the sauce and the ribs as well as getting all the additional items ready to carry to the event. I carry everything down stairs including 2 big crates of eggs! As I step out into the cold street with all my equipment and the eggs, I realize that it was that time of day when all the taxis are off duty. Juan, our doorman sees me stressed out and decides to be proactive. He runs off 5 blocks and gets a cab for me and brings it back to the building. Again, just the help I needed at the right time.

I arrive at the venue close to 5:30. I still have to make the croquetas, the avocado soup, the pasta, the mushroom sauce, the coconut sauce, the batter for the cakes... Everyone that was not doing anything started pitching in. Cutting mushrooms, shallots, anything they could get their hands on. 
The kitchen was on fire, getting things done. Guests began arriving promptly at 8 and the kitchen was in full swing. First plate was served at 9. 7 people were pitching in, platting, serving, taking pictures... then a small disaster. Jacob, the friend that helped me out with the transportation in the morning, severely cut himself, and Helah, his fiancee and our partner, had to rush him to the hospital. From one second to the next, we were 2 men down. 

Then came the moment of realization. A flash of how everything was coming together. There is still much to be done, but considering everything that happend in the past 24 hours we needed to make this happen! As they say in show business, the show must go on.  In one second everyone left in the service caught "kitchen flow". Not one word about being 2 people down was uttered. We all just worked our ass off and made the night work as best as we could! Always with a smile on our face, making light of the situation and honestly, despite the craziness it came out to be an amazing night

Yes, the kitchen was crazy. Yes, there was a lot of time between one plate and the next. But considering everything that happened. We pulled it off really well.

There were so many things that I learned that day. Most important was I need to take the time to prep the kitchen 100% before the event. I cannot be chopping onions or mushrooms one hour before service. Make the time to get it done.  But the most important lesson from that day was that we can really make it by with a little help from our friends. Without the help of all of you we could not have done it. Thank you Jacob, Brendan, Christina, Daniel, Juan, Myriam (for the extra sauce pot), thank you all of our guests for helping us and allowing us to use you as our guinea pigs. We all had a blast.

And now for some more food porn!
Photos by Jamie via jamesography.com




Monday, February 14, 2011

A Story Truly Worthy of a Blog... Part 1 of The Crazy Day of Our First Big Event!

For anyone that attended the event on February 3rd, I am sure that you had a great time. The vibe in the room was palpable. I know I did, and I was deep in the crazy kitchen. I also know that along with the great time you guys had, there was also the slow roll out of the food. Well as I had mentioned during a quick toast at the end of service, thank you all for being our guinea pigs! It was an amazing learning experience.

I must say, that I had all the plans to be completely organized and prepped for the dinner, and for anyone that really observed the kitchen, that did not happen. Here is the story of what did happened... Let me take you back to 24 hours before the event... 

[ENTER CHEESY FLASHBACK MUSIC]

One day before the big event. Finishing work to make sure that I leave everything in order. Of course I need to take the next day off in order to spend the day prepping, etc.  I make my way to Eataly to purchase the final ingredients as well as the dishes for the vegetarians. In my mind everything was set. I had my checklist so off I go. 

The market takes a bit more time than what I thought. Plus I had to buy food for Tamy and myself for dinner... next thing I know its 9 PM and I am racing home. It is very important that I begin prepping the food the night before.  We have dinner, and then my cousin who is visiting from Miami comes by to spend a couple of hours with us. In my thoughts, this is great. She is very coordinated in the kitchen and can help me with a bunch of stuff. But that... well lets just say that didn't happen. Plus, I realize that obviously in the craze of getting everything together, I forgot some key ingredients.  

In the meantime, Tamy is beginning to have the pre-event jitters. In one hand she had the list of invitees, in the other her computer. 
"The tables are all screwed up!" she says.
"We cannot sit all the foodies with each other and the techies with the techies! I NEED HELP" she states.
Here I am with a knife in my hand, about to place the first incision into the clean shitake mushroom. 
"What do you want me to do? Stop prepping and work on the table list? I need to get this done!" I carefully reply. 
"YES!" she concludes...

So there I am, dedicating the precious hours that I had to prep the food to the seating chart instead. Which, granted, is very crucial to making the night work perfectly.  One of those subtle yet important details that we had planned. So of course it was important... but then again so is the food!

Next thing we know it is midnight and all I had done was chopped all the celery and the carrots.

"Baby, don't worry. You have this! Tomorrow wake up early and dedicate your time to prepping everything." my loving wife says to me in a very reassuring way. "It is more important to get a good night sleep. Tomorrow is a big day for you!"

Next day comes. we wake up at 7:30 and let the day sink in. It takes me a while to get everything in order. There were still those key ingredients that I needed to purchase, as well as begin getting all the pots, pans and equipment organized for the transportation to the venue. It was not until about 10 AM when I was back in my house. My gut begins to feel heavy and the eery feeling of stress begins to settle in. A friend is stopping by at 11 to help me transport everything to the venue and I still had to go pick up the scallops at "The Lobster Place" in Chelsea Market.

QUICK! Pull out the huge slab of short ribs. Begin to clean it. Remove most of the fat. Cut them into individual pieces. 36 SHORT RIBS! DAMN... luckily I had a huge stock pot ready to go and full of the chicken broth, carrots, celery, leeks, and wine ready. Oven pre-heated... put it all together and go! They need 4 hours to braise. Perfect. First part ready to go. Move on to the polenta. EASY! it just needs to sit for about one hour with water. Create the veggie broth for the vegetarians (throw some into the polenta for added flavor). Done. And then the phone begins to vibrate... my friend is 5 minutes away and I am still in PJs! SHIT!

Run, shower, shave, get dressed. Pack up the kitchen into a massive plastic crate and begin to take it down stairs... Obviously I completely ignored the check list that I had prepared for 3 days. Obviously I did not check that everything I needed was packed up in the crate. And obviously I did not make the final pocket check... I just had to get moving. The day was on top of me. 

Off we go to the venue, unpack everything and begin to setup the space with the tables. In my mind I knew that I still had to prep A LOT! But I figured I still had time. It was still early... next thing I know its 1:30 and I needed to rush to Chelsea Market for the scallops. The order had been placed and all I needed to do was go in pick them up, pay for them and off I go. I was also going to buy the bread at Amy's Bread and take advantage of the trip. 

My friend drops me off at Chelsea Market and leaves. I run in to The Lobster Place and ask for Brendan, the manager. Even though we had never met, we struck up a quick conversation soon to realize that we both shared an alma matter. Great. He brings out the scallops and give me the story of where they came from (a new vendor of theirs brought them in, they are farmed and taste spectacular). He hands me the final bill. I reach for my wallet, and at that moment, like a large boulder falling on my head (or a punch to the nose) I realize that my wallet is missing. I have 6 hours for the guest to begin to arrive and I am missing my wallet! Well the very gracious Brendan sees my face of panic and says. 
"Don't worry. Take them and then call me later with the credit card info."
"BRENDAN! THANK YOU!" I say with a tremble. 

I run out with the scallops in one hand the stress growing and growing in the other. I exit the building. Am about to hail a cab and then I realize... I DON'T HAVE MY WALLET! I am stuck in Chelsea cash less. OH MY GOD! 

To be continued...

And now some food porn!
Photos by Jamie via jamesography.com



Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Faith Happens


Its hard to pick one thing from all the things that happened during our last dinner party. But as my creative team would tell me....please, just tell us the single most important take away from the night, the thing that was the most powerful, the one that sticks through and hits you at the core, the most memorable, the one idea that will stay in your short, medium, long term memory. With that in mind, for me, the story of our big 60 people dinner party was one about faith and trust.

Much more than aversion to risk lay the big question of whether or not we could really see this project all the way through and if so, what it all would truly look like at the end.  Did people have enough faith in our project to pay pal us, commit to the event, put it in their calendar almost a month in advance, and show up with an open mind?  Besides the love and utter respect I have for Felipe and his talent in the kitchen, could he really pull it off and serve 240 beautiful dishes? What about me? Did I have enough faith in myself, enough to control the tension and stress? Could I really see this through even if the unexpected got in the way? And finally, was Worth Kitchen the real deal, could its essence peek through even amongst the now larger crowds of people? Or would it show its face as yet another New York foodie event? So as you can see, for me the strong emotions leaned much more towards the "pre-event"; the unexpected, "anything could happen", "anything could go wrong" part of the spectrum.  And now seeing it in retrospect, I think faith was exactly the thing that got us through it all. Both faith and trust became the crucial elements that allowed everything to come together.  And the lesson of the night was that the greatest, most breakthrough ideas, the kick ass projects, those small businesses that make it big, much beyond having a groundbreaking idea needed to have people who believed it could really happen. So the magical thing about the night was that it was all tied together with a thread of faith, and for us to grow and keep transforming into bigger things, it will have to be exactly that element of trust that makes it all happen again and again.

Its funny for me to write a post about faith, since I have never been considered what you would call a "Believer". But I got to admit, I believe in Felipe, I believe in Worth Kitchen, and I have all the faith in the world that this project will help us grow in ways we never expected. So to all our guests, also true believers of ideas, thank you for joining us and making the night happen. We will hold you dear to our hearts and we hope you form part of many of our next "big steps" to come.

- Tamy

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Menu and Some Additional Pics...

click on the menu to see full size
The menu was catered to be something fun for everyone. One thing that was not mentioned here was the  fact that we created an alternative veggie menu for our friendly vegetarians. The pancetta croquetas were replaced with brown butter sage croquetas (still with fontina cheese). The scallops were replaced with grilled "nopales" (very traditional mexican dish, nopales are cactus) with grilled queso fresco. And the short ribs were replaced with broccoli rabe grilled with olive oil and salt with a homemade veggie broth.
Below are some pics, but many more are to come as well as Tamy's famous post where she will dive into some awesome insight about the night.







CREDIT TO RAUL MANDRU FOR THE PICTURES
THANKS!

Friday, February 4, 2011

LAST NIGHT RESUMED IN ONE PICTURE!

Thanks to Raul Mandru for the pic and comic!
SO MUCH MORE TO COME ON THIS AMAZING NIGHT!

THANK YOU ALL!!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Rise of the Entrepreneur Generation


I know everyone who attended dinner #31 must think I would for sure write about the one guest that had one too many drinks. In fact, that same night I announced to this particular guest, as well as to the rest of the table that I would do just that! And that there is no way in hell he would get away with his comments to his fiancée (also a guest) – “you will cook for me because that’s what women do” (to name just one of many comments…are guys even legally allowed to say that these days?). Anyway, that was perhaps the longest run on sentence, forgive me for getting caught up in the emotion. There was, however, something else going on during dinner #31 which I found to be much more interesting. Without naming names, I found it fascinating that almost half of the guests we had over were on their way to start doing their own thing. Which got me thinking that what used to be the rise of the creative class is fast turning to be the rise of the entrepreneur generation. While there were many industries represented that night, there was one thing that tied us all together. We all new intuitively that today we have all the tools at our disposal in the case we decided to take our own independent path and begin executing on our ideas and interests. What are you good at? Whatever that may be, today’s economy has a place for it. What is the one thing that makes you get up in the morning? You are bound to find a twitter group that uses that same interest as their personal internal alarm clock.  What does your idea even look like? No matter what it is, you could probably make a prototype of it.

Amazed of the certainty of our dear entrepreneur spirited guests, I kept asking them if they were afraid to take the more uncertain path and of course they were, but it wasn’t a question of whether or not they could deal with that fear. The attitude towards that more uncertain future was more about doing it because they “owed it to themselves”. I also got the sense they felt they owed it to others like them as well, who are scared shitless to do cross over to uncertain territories. There was that sentiment of “if I do it, you can do it too” and this contagious behavior of “enterpeneurgitis” was rapidly spread through all the guests. Those who want to start their own gig want others to know that its ok, it can be done, and we can all be successful.

Thank you for those who keep pushing the limits and pushing others to do the same.