Nov 13, 2003

lessons in service

I had the sweet luxury and privilege of enjoying the "kitchen table menu" at Charlie Trotter's this past weekend in Chicago. The six of us were seated right in the kitchen, within arm's length of the chef de cuisine; watching him orchestrate chefs, hosts, wait staff and expediters was something to behold. It wasn't anything like the chaos that I'd read about in Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, but instead ordered, professional and focused: focused on quality, presentation, timeliness and an appearance of effortlessness. It was the epitome of what's required for flawless back-room execution of the experience economy. And the food was great, too...

Tempura of Dungeness Crab with Daikon & Hearts of Palm. Nantucket Bay Scallop with Hijiki & Green Tea Noodles. Buttermilk Poached Poussin Breast with Golden & Striped Beets. Watermelon Radish Ravioli with Raw Cashew "Cheese." Warm Souffle of Red Hubbard Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette. Tai with Fennel, Battera Kombu & Bras D'Or Oysters. Fingerling Potato Soup with Alba White Truffles. Hawaiian Moi with Leeks & Elephant Garlic Emulsion. Quail Breast with Cabbage & Kohlrabi Whole Roasted Squab with Boudin & Red Endive. Triple Seared Kobe Strip Loin with Minnesota Wild Rice & Pearl Onions. Velvet Rose with Juniper Figs & Roasted Walnuts. Golden Russet,Spartan & Cortland Apple Sorbets with Sarsparilla Soup. Almond Financier with Huckleberries & Mascarpone Ice Cream. Parfait of Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Sauternes Jelly & Spicy Pear Chocolate-Coffee Tuile with Espresso Sauce. Mignardises.

I'm usually suspicious of celebrity chef enterprises (Trotter's latest book Raw, was published on Tuesday by Berkeley's Ten Speed Press), but the experience we had on Saturday night is making Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter a tempting purchase...