Chef David Bouley talking about his philosophy of food and longevity.
Chef David Bouley was blunt as he addressed the 100 or so folks who had shelled out $400 each to have dinner at Bouley Test Kitchen during the New York City Wine and Food Festival earlier this month.
“I am going to your homes with big garbage bags and I’m going to throw away anything in your kitchen that’s processed!” He was only half kidding. He wants Americans to have what he calls “living” pantries.
“Americans have the least living food in their diets,” he said.
Bouley has studied the diets of people who live in places with the longest life spans. Like Okinawa. What do they eat? Garlic, turmeric, coconut oil, Himalayan salt, he said. He’s a huge believer in fermentation. Also spirulina (algae), apple cider vinegar and cod liver oil. Kimchi, pickles, cultured butter, buttermilk and yogurt. And, thankfully, beer and wine.
With that introduction, I was feeling a little nervous about what we would be served that Saturday evening. (I needn’t have been. It turned out to be delicious, as you will see.)
He also announced that he doesn’t use any sugar in his desserts. “Fat doesn’t make you fat,” he said. “Sugar makes you fat!”
Bouley, who is 72, says he has discovered four “rules” for living a happy, healthy life:
- “Calm, calm, calm”, he said. Stress is a killer. And it makes you sick.
- “If you smell some food coming and it makes you happy, and you eat it and it makes you happy and you are happy two hours later — you are eating the right things!”
- “Do what you love. Don’t stop.”
- “Community, community, community.” The cultures with the longest lives have the most community connections.
There you have it!
Thanks again to Scripps Networks Interactive, the Food Network and the Cooking Channel for donating this experience as part of an auction package for the Clarence Brown Theatre Gala. And thanks to my friends Sara Rose and Sheena McCall who bought the auction item and invited Sarah Kiely and me to tag along with them.
The Bouley Test Kitchen is located at 31 W. 21st Street. This is the only signage.
Sara Rose in the dining room.
Our Knoxville crew. From left, Sarah Kiely, Sara Rose and Sheena McCall during the cocktail hour.
Mingling over cocktails.
The first passed appetizer: avocado, San Marzano tomatoes and baby chervil on a corn cracker. A delicious start.
The appetizers were served with Champagne Drappier Carte d’Or. Loved this champagne.
This was my favorite appetizer. Black truffle paste, potato pureed with cheese served on kuzu crackers. “Kuzu will reduce your blood sugar immediately,” Bouley asserted.
Ha! Loved this lamp made from a mixer that was on a shelf in the foyer area.
And this one made from a pressure cooker!
Waffle iron lamp!
California shrimp with aromatic ginger sauce was delightful.
Sheena enjoying the shrimp.
Mobiles of various kitchen related items added interest to the space below the ceiling.
Time to sit down.
The flowers were festive.
I think we got the best seat in the house. Probably because the Food Network made our reservation and the Bouley folks may have assumed we worked there!
Chef Bouley made opening remarks.
And then the courses started. I gave Sheena, my raw fish-loving friend, mine. It was raw salmon with cherry tomatoes, vinegar and vanilla.
I know that I famously don’t like chardonnay. But, when it’s a good chardonnay and is perfectly paired with a dish, I love it! This was a 2014 Domaine Drouhin Oregon chardonnay “Arthur” from Dundee Hills. Dundee Hills is in the Willamette Valley 28 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.
It was hard to pick among the delicious breads offered.
But, here’s what I picked.
So, have you ever wondered why butter tastes so much better in Europe? Chef Bouley said it’s because over there, you are served cultured butter. He says it’s healthier and “you can eat it and have a clear conscience.” He served cultured butter with the bread and, guess what. It was delicious — just like in Europe. (At home, I found cultured butter available at Earth Fare.)
Last of the season blue fin tuna with pickled fennel and matsutake mushrooms and Osetra caviar. This was served cold. We liked it.
The next dish was my favorite. It started with paper thin slices of Cesare Casello prosciutto placed on the side of a bowl with a dollop of bio-dynamic watercress puree.
Artichoke bottoms were added, along with a soft steamed egg.
Chef Bouley adding some kind of delicious foam.
It was topped with cheese and served. Lord, God.
A 2014 Joseph Drouhin Fleurie Domaine des Hospices de Belleville accompanied.
More delicious bread was offered.
Gnocchi with roasted chestnuts. Fantastic.
I like this picture of Sara.
Milk-fed veal rack with wild porcini, black trumpet and shiitake and pureed cauliflower and beets. (I gave my veal to my friends, but everything else on the plate was wonderful.)
The delicious red wine was a 2015 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin, which was strong enough to stand up to the stew.
Chef Bouley dropped by to visit our table. Here he is with Sheena.
Ha! Sarah Kiely was goofing off for the camera! Her excitement is understandable as she herself is a sous chef with the University of Tennessee culinary program. And apparently a big David Bouley fan!
The first of the two dessert courses was this pureed local organic melon with a sorbet of sheep and goat yogurt.
The sugar-free dessert was a delicious walnut cake with a little square of confit of New York State apple.
G.E. Massenez calvados “Prisoners” accompanied dessert. (Ha. Love that name with the poor apple caught inside.)
The bottles are placed over the apples while they are just little buds on the tree and they grow inside the bottles. There is a 50 percent breakage rate, we were told!
As the evening wound up, I couldn’t believe how clean the kitchen was! This is an inspiration for me to clean up as I go during my next dinner party.
Everyone received a delicious lemon cake to take home. Sara and I had some for breakfast the next morning while rushing to get ready to go to the airport and return to Knoxville.
My advice: When you see a Scripps Networks/Food Network auction item offered at a charity event, jump on it!