Test Kitchen- Brian Redzikowski

First, we feast with our eyes.  Vibrant colors of garden and sea, 3 dimensional textures of foods both familiar and unfamiliar, linear shapes juxtaposed against round edges, and beautiful arrangements worthy of a gallery piece.  Then we taste, exploring through our gustatory senses whether the flavors presented to us reciprocate our visual expectations.  Sound, smell and touch come somewhere in between, but our appetites become ignited the moment we lay eyes on our food. In Chef Brian Redzikowski’s dinner at Test Kitchen in Los Angeles, this concept was taken to its purest form.  He deliberately withheld the evening’s menu from diners until the very end of the meal, wanting for each course’s experience to start the moment a dish arrived at the table.  Not knowing what to expect, each dish was a real surprise, over and over again, fresh, exciting and new.

As Executive Chef of Bond St at the Thompson Hotel, Chef Redzikowski understands the intricate mastery of food aesthetics, utilizing his training in French and Japanese cuisine to create beautiful pieces of edible art.  The Test Kitchen preview dinner for his upcoming restaurant project Claustro was a culmination of his delicate and refined style of cuisine, executed with the help of his chef sibling Frank.  Redzikowski started the dinner off with a shot of passion fruit blueberry granité and prosecco foam, in a playful arrangement of dry ice and colorful glass marbles- bubbly, fruity and flirtatious.

A ‘Marco Pierre White’ terrine of baby leeks and lobster, pressed for 16 hours and congealed with natural pectins from the vegetable, was served with caviar.  The simple and light dish was an ode to the infamous 3 Michelin starred bad boy chef who first made this dish for one of his mentors.  On this YouTube video, not only can you see the step-by-step process of this wonderful terrine, but also a young fledgling Gordon Ramsay learning how to curse in the kitchen.

My favorite dish of the night was a potato cube pierced through the center with a bouquet of rosemary twigs, nestled in a sea of luscious potato and chorizo foams.  Amazing aromas from the twigs whetted my appetite, and the orange chorizo foam delivered an incredible savor that I still yearn to relive. As the only course that didn’t require utensils, feeling the weighted twigs in our hands as we bit into the potato tapped into our tactile senses, heightening the experience.

A generous wedge of King crab dressed in an aromatic foam arrived at our table in a dainty black ceramic bowl, balanced on a saucer with a crab exoskeleton tangled in fishing net.  The moment it arrived, I felt a powerful splash of cold ocean wave, delivering with it a waft of buttery crustacean scent.  Refreshing flavors of preserved Meyer lemon balanced out the fabulous richness of lobster butter in this delightful dish that was served with small carrot, zucchini and celery balls.

Arnold Palmer served with a bottom layer of ice cold lemonade and a top layer of warm tea was interesting…if not baffling.

Halibut was served with chanterelles, rutabaga balls (a cross between a cabbage and a turnip), generous slices of black truffles and interestingly, crisp Romaine leaves that gave the dish an interesting textural variation.

Foie gras foam and parmesan cheese added too much saltiness to this dish, but the liquid foie gras-filled raviolis were quite magnificent in concept, flavor and texture.  Lettuce leaves were again added to this entrée, a surprisingly clever and fresh new way of incorporating greens.

The plating of the sous vide lamb loin and tongue dish was distinctly Redzikowski, showcasing a playful arrangement of color and geometry.  Little brown buttons of chanterelles, a leaning solitary asparagus spear, squiggles of onion demi glace, the gentle curl of transparent mint paper and a rectangular cut of leathery dehydrated onion crisp with precise right angles- a delicious composition of abstract expressionism.

My hopes were fulfilled when the Asahi float dessert arrived at our table, my favorite dish from Redzikowski’s Breadbar Hatchi dinner last year.  Vanilla ice cream with acacia honey gel, showered with a tableside pour of Asahi Super Dry beer, was again a sensational and unforgettably delicious combination.

The ‘half baked’ dessert was a glass terrarium of sweet delights with caramel panna cotta, liquid nitrogen frozen raw cookie dough, kaffir lime foam, soft brownie sponge, ground pistachios, ice cream and an egg yolk chip- another playful culinary concept with delicious results.

Look forward to Chef Redzikowski’s new restaurant project, Claustro, which will hopefully keep the Asahi float and potato on the menu while introducing new artistic and avant-garde creations.  It will surely be a feast for the eyes, and a delicious banquet for all other senses.

Chef Brian Redzikowski’s website:

www.brianredzikowski.com

Random trivia:  Did you know that the bitterness of watercress, mustard greens, turnip and rutabaga is perceived through the influence of a gene affecting a bitter receptor?  Some people are born with a stronger expression of this gene, making them perceive these vegetables infinitely more stronger than others who don’t.

Hatchi series at the Breadbar- Brian Redzikowski

“Cooking is one of the oldest arts and one which has rendered us the most important service in civic life”

– Brillat-Savarin, famed French gastronome

I was reminded of this quote of ‘food as art’ while dining at the most recent Hatchi dinner event at the Breadbar which featured my friend Chef Brian Redzikowski, Executive Chef of Bond Street Restaurant at the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills.  After being inspired by his creative food at a tasting dinner at Bond Street last year, I knew that his Hatchi dinner would be a special evening.  I gathered a group of food enthusiasts for the dinner, telling them beforehand that this was going to be a good one- a feast for the eyes, a true splendor of elegant aesthetics and a demonstration of fine beauty.

It was only a matter of time before Chef Redzikowski would get his opportunity to shine at the Hatchi dinner series, a wonderful monthly dinner concept of 8 dishes for $8 each by a guest chef.  Le Cirque, Le Bernardin, Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, Alain Ducasse, Matsuhisa, Yellowtail in Las Vegas- sound familiar?  It’s not a list of this year’s best restaurants, its the list of previous stints on Redzikowski’s impressive bio.  With brother Frank Redzikowski, another distinguished chef who now works at the Encore in Las Vegas, at his side for the special one-night event,  Brian was ready to prove his true creative potential.  He even brought his own Bond Street crew, clad in light gray suits, to ensure proper tableside plating for his sophisticated dishes.

Food is art, and cooking is love.

Never have I appreciated this concept more than at this Hatchi dinner named Claustro, which is Latin for ‘barrier’ or ‘lock’.  Indeed, Redzikowski broke the barriers of conventional cuisine to unlock every diner’s heart with his innovative and artistic dishes.  As one of my male dining companions put it, every dish was ” just….simply beautiful.”  For me it went beyond beautiful, and each consecutive plate transported me back to a certain painting which has touched my life with its breathtaking and magnificent artistry.

Pickled daikon radish spears accentuated the three-dimensionality of the large succulent cubes of dark red tuna and bright glowing red watermelon by intersecting them at skewed angled planes.  Geometric dark soy dots, halved cherry tomatoes and green pistachio nuggets added colorful elements to the abstract faceting of reconstructed tuna.  Yet, despite the sharp lines and angles, the delicate tomato water film, so gently and carefully draped over the cubes like silky flowing hair, brought femininity and grace to the plate, like Picasso’s ‘Woman’.   Both conceptually and quite literally, this was Picasso’s cubism interpreted in food.

The tips of the tempura battered squash blossoms, deep fried to a perfect audible crunch, were wonderful dipped into the tangy salsa verde.  Once the tips were consumed, I glimpsed inside of the squash blossom flower petals to find soft wet succulent pieces of sea urchin.  The cross section of the long flowing petals cocooning these little orange tongues reminded me of the subtle eroticism of Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings, like ‘Calla Lillies on Pink’.

The underlying black framework running through the warm color palette, strewn with dynamic splashes of cream in Brian’s unagi dish was reminiscent of ‘Number 8’ by Jackson Pollock.  A neatly organized plate of sweet unagi with fingerling potatoes, Fuji apples and arugula arrived at our table.  Then the Bond Street crew came over with a block of frozen foie gras and started grating it over the plate in wild dynamic strokes, dripping speckles of savory liver paint in a Pollock-esque energetic dance to create edible chaos.  In an instant the lovely aromas of foie gras from the foam and the shavings climbed into our nares, moving us to deconstruct this vibrant canvas with our forks to enjoy the gustatory interplay of sweet, bitter and salty.

Vivid colors and distinct geometric shapes of Kandinsky’s ‘Solid Green’ were reflected in the New Zealand langoustine dish with succulent pieces of the crustacean alongside earthy rancho gordo beans, chives, arugula, thin prosciutto slices and rancho gordo espuma.  Simple visual identification of the rectangular and round forms enticed my inner curiosity, but further observation of how their relative disposition created purposeful harmony on the canvas inspired a deeper appreciation for the artistic creativity of this chef.  The seemingly abstract disjunction of the dish accentuated by the bold forest green parsley sheets was actually a purposeful expression of his vision through color and form.

wassily-kandinsky-solid-green

Chef Redzikowski’s Halibut dish strayed far away from bold displays of colors and shapes to experiment with an understated creation using subtle gradations of soft colors like Mark Rothko’s ‘Number 10’.  A tender and moist square wedge of halibut was plated against a soft background of vertically arranged white sauces, all blending and blurring into one another with refined grace.  Hojiblanca olive oil pudding, olive oil purée and an incredibly flavorful artichoke foam elevated the flavors of the fish, while a splash of olive oil powder rounded them out with finesse, demonstrating that complex flavors and thoughts are sometimes best appreciated through simple expressions.  Each variation of cream colored savor was exquisitely counterpoised against one another in this fine culinary installation of abstract expressionism.

Sous-vide wagyu beef with spring vegetables was a welcomed encore dish from my tasting dinner at Bond Street.  The perfectly medium-rare cuts of beef with a drizzle of veal jus and sea salt sprinkles was indubitably fantastic, but it was the plating of the vibrant spring vegetables, so characteristic of Chef Brian’s style, that awakened memories of when I first admired Henri Matisse’s ‘Le Bonheur de Vivre’, which means ‘The Joy of Life’.  A tender green asparagus spear rested its feet on the soft carrot sphere pillow which glowed with intense orange brightness like the warm spring sun.  Like the playful figures in the painting, an earthy morel mushroom, an aromatic roasted garlic, a sweet cippolini onion, a french onion chip and a miniature bouquet garni all lounged and frolicked on the soft cippolini onion purée lawn as they basked in the idyllic sensuality of an unfettered life.

Matisse._Le_bonheur_de_vivre._1905-1906

Caramel popcorn, preserved cherries, chewy dense caramel nuggets and caramel powder dotted a canvas of incredibly delicious caramel popcorn panna cotta in one of the 2 dessert dishes.  The playfulness seen in the seemingly random yet organized arrangement of colorful sweets evokes the style of Catalan painter Joan Miró as seen in this painting called ‘Women and Birds at Sunrise’.  Bright red tart cherries accentuated the otherwise monotone color palette which excited all diners with the fascinating range of textures, from chewy and sticky to creamy and crunchy.

Joan Miro Oil Painting On Canvas Women and Birds at Sunrise. 1946

All of the dishes were fantastic both in artistry and flavor, but the final dessert dish was the pivotal and defining composition for me.  A glass of vanilla ice cream with sweet drizzles of acacia honey jelly was finished tableside by Bond Street staff with a generous soak of cold Asahi beer to complete the beer float dessert.  Beer with ice cream and honey?  Sensational, delicious, thrilling and fresh.  Somehow the sweetness of the honey muted the alcohol in the beer, leaving behind only the earthy flavors of barley to enhance the luscious vanilla ice cream.  Sipping the infused liquid through a straw highlighted the slightly bitter flavors of the dessert while generous bites of heavenly ice cream and honey with my spoon presented a sweeter interpretation, all the while exciting my senses to this avant garde expression of lager surrealism.  Whose contemporary artistry was this style of pop art reminiscent of?  This dish…was an original Redzikowski.

Look forward to Claustro, a restaurant concept that Chef Redzikowski is working on in Silver Lake.

Breadbar

Century City Mall
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 277-3770

Upcoming Hatchi dinners:

June 24th- Walter Manzke

July 29th- Makoto Okuwa

August 26th- Chicks with Knives

Random trivia:  Did you know that popcorn was the first food to be microwaved deliberately?

Bond Street at the Thompson- Beverly Hills

IMG_9956

At the Beverly Hills Thompson Hotel, Chef Brian Redzikowski mans the helm of the kitchen at Bond Street restaurant.  The restaurant and hotel, just like the original in New York’s SoHo, is beautifully designed in true Dodd Mitchell style.  Sleek dark brown suede banquettes and checkered patterns encompass the dimly lit dining room.  The classy bar is an ideal place for incognito lovers to whisper sweet nothings by flickering candlelight. A quaint sushi bar sits by the open kitchen,  a traditional Japanese haven almost hidden from the otherwise contemporary space.  The large wooden communal table by the bar decorated with bonsai plants almost took my breath away.  My goodness, is that a George Nakashima table?  After close inspection, I could tell that it wasn’t, but it was still a beauty.  Japanese artistry juxtaposed with lustrous modern design compose the perfect background for the innovative food here at Bond St.

IMG_0004Chef Brian Redzikowski is almost too perfect of a fit for this restaurant known for sushi and Japanese fusion cuisine.  Only a chef who has the mastery of classical French techniques and an eye for Japanese aesthetics can competently operate and actualize this menu.  His impressive bio reflects how his path was naturally bound for the executive chef title at Bond St.  Le Cirque, Alain Ducasse, Le Bernardin and Joel Robuchon at the Mansion have refined his culinary skills.  His position as executive chef at Matsuhisa in Colorado and executive sous-chef at Yellowtail in Las Vegas prove his competence with Japanese cuisine.

He started off our special tasting menu with a prosecco sangria jello and foam.  The flavors were sweet, fruity and seductive.  The foam layer fizzled away like fine prosecco bubbles.  As we examined the chiffon lace decoration on this dish and toasted with Bruno Paillard Brut Rosé champagne (a signature Robuchon bubbly), the two former Robuchon chefs that I was dining with both chuckled as they simultaneously exclaimed “This is SO Robuchon!”

My favorite dish of the evening was the big eye tuna tartare with truffle oil, thinly sliced red onions and microshiso.  It was stunningly plated on a thin wooden plank that was reminiscent of the Nakashima-esque wooden table by the bar.  Served on a light and airy crisp, this dainty appetizer saturated the air with its ethereal truffle aroma.

 

A ‘sashimi’ plate of king crab and hamachi.  The intense aroma of the bacon foam on top of the king crab with vinegar gelée opened the flood gates of my salivary glands.  This foam can easily be marketed to become a basic tabletop condiment right next to salt and pepper.  I felt like the vinegar gelée was unnecessary and took away from the excitement of the bacon essence, but the hamachi belly with soy strip was delightful.  The soy flavors kicked in after a few seconds, as the strip slowly dissolved in my mouth and transfused through the wonderful fattiness of the fish.

The Skeena river salmon sushi went back to the basics.  After all, this is a sushi restaurant (well, sort of).  But of course, Brian put a little twist to it.  It was served with soy pearls, small round jelly-like pearls that were probably made with either alginate or agar.  Although it was a fun concept, I would have preferred to keep this simple and a little more traditional with soy-marinated salmon roe.

By this time we were knee deep in the most insanely delicious bottle of 2005 Domaine Etienne Defaix Chablis Vielle Vignes from Burgundy- a perfect balance of dry and sweet, and went well with all of the seafood dishes.

Foie gras with spicy rice krispy treat, yogurt powder and yogurt chip was interesting.  The best part for me was the actual foie gras which I only got to enjoy for a nanosecond before it disappeared under the overwhelming sweetness and chewiness of the rice krispy treat.  I didn’t quite understand the role of the yogurt, as it did nothing for me, and the yogurt powder reminded me of infant formula.

The next dish was a corn flan with carrot marshmallow, sweet pea foam and spot prawns that I unfortunately forgot to photograph.  You can see a photo of it on Chef Redzikowski’s site.  A deep white bowl with a layer of yellow corn flan at the bottom was colorfully dotted with orange and green and a side of light green pea foam.  The flan was incredibly smooth and silky, and the sweet pea foam was beautifully aromatic.  The crunchy texture of the croutons mixed with the succulent meatiness of the prawns and melty marshmallows was brilliant.  We all loved this dish.

The Alaskan black cod with miso dengaku and potato miso foam was nice.  The cod was perfectly cooked and flavorful, motivating me to eat carefully with the precision of a plastic surgeon so as not to leave behind even a small flake on the plate.  I was a bit surprised to see a red miso dengaku paste on this fatty fish, as cod is usually marinated with white miso which has a lighter taste.  The warm potato foam was good enough for me to want to bathe in.  Bravo to the bottle of 2004 Chenin blanc ‘Les Genêts’ from Savennières by Damien Laureau for enhancing this portion of our dinner with its fruit and honey undertones.

 

The sous vide Snake River Farm Kurobuta pork belly dish was interesting.  It was served with artichoke foam and olive oil powder.  Our server gave us strict instructions to incorporate the foam and powder in each bite.   I applaud the chef’s creativity and determination in incorporating molecular gastronomy elements in his dishes, but I was deeply perplexed with the elements.  The powders and foams were too frail and muted to do their part in enhancing the fatty pork belly.

The sous vide Kobe beef on a bed of applewood smoked bacon was presented beautifully.  The beef slices were nicely marbled and fatty as Kobe beef always is, although I question the presence of the bacon.  I’m assuming it was for consumption and not just for visual and olfactory foreplay, as these were some of the toughest slices of bacon I’ve ever had.

 

The beef was accompanied with a side of veggies.  Similar to the carrot marshmallows in the corn flan dish, it came with a round carrot sphere served on a bed of cippolini onion purée with microvegetables and honey teriyaki sauce.  The cippolini purée was exquisite, teeming with that unique sweetness that only an onion can produce.

Sous vide meat round 3 was Sonoma lamb with carrot purée and powder, gingerbread, lamb jus and mint paper.  The meat was tender and delicate, and beautifully done.  The arrangement of dots, cubes and powder was like a Japanese rock garden.

 

The meats were beautifully paired with a flawless 2006 Vosne Romanée by Domaine Forey Pere et Fils.  Luckily we still had a little left to enjoy with the first of 6 desserts which couldn’t be more perfect with this wine.  As a tribute to the Vosne Romanée, these pinot noir and strawberry liquid-filled chocolate spheres were chaperoned by pinot noir reduction dots, micro shiso and strawberries.  Upon first glance, this brown sphere seemed timid and nervous, sweating fine beads of perspiration under the ravenous stares of its predators.  Once consumed, its surprisingly thin and delicate crust ruptured between tongue and palate in a torrent of seductive poison, rendering its predator paralyzed in a fervent state of ecstasy.

 

The warm cherry clafoutis with vanilla ice cream was next up in this sinful dessert carnage.  It was nice to get a classic French dish made simply and splendidly.  It was an amazing dessert that almost caused a war when it came down to the last bite.

 

The lemongrass and espresso ice creams with cappuccino foam was sharp and refreshing.

 

The caramel flan with popcorn foam was interesting to say the least.  Not my cup of tea, but a bold experiment in unique flavor and texture combinations.

 

Mochi donuts with coconut ice cream and rhubarb was something I could easily do without.  The mochi balls had a caustic chewy texture that made it distinctly un-mochi like.

 

The grand dessert finale was fittingly carried out by the caramel chocolate ball filled with liquid vanilla ice cream on a bed of caramel powder.  We were instructed to eat this in one bite.  Mind you, they were the size of golf balls, so we all initially hesitated, not wanting to look silly trying to do this.  But we were among good friends, and happy tipsy friends at that, so we all took the plunge together.  Just like the pinot noir chocolate ball, this heavenly sphere instantly collapsed in our mouths, resulting in a tsunami of rich vanilla decadence.  See this YouTube video of Brian making these opulent orbs.  Avoid the somewhat cheesy music by viewing it on mute.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoeeC5ABgZU

 

 

The decadent feast concluded with colorful origami boxes containing chocolates.  The flowing progression of our meal narrated a beautiful story and each dish allured us with mythical charm.  Like traditional Japanese kaiseki, the aesthetics of each plate demonstrated the esteem and discernment of understated beauty.

The exorbitance of powders, foams, strips, dots and sous vide meats left me yearning for a simple plate of meat and potatoes, but I appreciated Redzikowski’s creative and daring adventure into new culinary frontiers.  Like the restaurant decor,  his food represented a flirtatious blend of sexy modernism and traditional elegance.

Bond Street

9360 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-3134
(310) 601-2255

 

Click here for more beautiful photos of Chef Redzikowski’s culinary creations.

 

 

Random trivia:  Careful where you pop…

Jan 2, 2009 12:31 pm US/Pacific

Popcorn Trail Leads Police To Suspected Thief

NATOMAS (CBS13) ―

A messy thief has been arrested after a trail of popcorn led police directly from a crime scene to the suspect’s living room.

Sacramento police say they responded to an alarm at the Food Stop store in Natomas early in the morning on New Year’s day.  When officers arrived they found that the business had been broken into and several items taken.

That’s also when they noticed a trail of popcorn.  Officers followed the trail of clues to an apartment complex behind the store and to the door of one unit.  When officers knocked, they noticed the popcorn kernels continued inside the apartment.  Officers found the stolen property inside.

Officers arrested Tyree Brown for a theft warrant and possession of stolen property.  He may be charged with burlgary at a later time.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)