Wednesday, May 23, 2012
|Chef Manny Augello plates his crispy quail with roasted figs,
balsamic-can syrup vinaigrette, sugar-and-spice pecans, and
fried chèvre in the kitchen at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro.
Some chefs trudge into work each day. Lighting the burners, tossing a pot around once in a while, waiting for that spark they once may have had to return before they find themselves so deep in the weeds one night they tell everyone exactly what they think of them and storm out. Oftentimes these same chefs find themselves deep in a glass by the end of the night as they wonder what exactly they did wrong to find themselves right where they are at that very moment.
Then there are chefs who wax poetic about things like “[u]sing each ingredient so that there is the least amount of waste.” The chefs who tattoo themselves with animals, lines drawn across them marking off the prime cuts. The chefs who don’t put a strawberry on top of a dessert for a Thanksgiving meal because strawberries are not in season and espouse that the degradation of the American culinary experience is due in part to our being able to import them at will.
Manny Augello is the latter. And it is not just the patrons lucky enough to eat at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro who are noticing. Augello has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York for an esteemed crew of foodies, chefs and food lovers.
Known as the “Dean of American cookery,” Beard starred in the first television cooking show and wrote numerous cookbooks that taught five decades of Americans how to lay off the Spam. When Beard died, friends and supporters turned his home into a mecca of all things culinary. An invitation to cook there is commonly thought to be a stepping stone to nomination for a James Beard Award, and it allows Augello to step into one of the most revered kitchens in America and put on his best show.
Luckily, I was asked to attend a press review dinner of the spread he will be presenting May 30 at the Beard House and I can assure you, no one will leave unhappy or unsatisfied, nor will they leave feeling skinnier. Augello’s menu celebrates the farm-to-table movement, procuring ingredients locally to present the best and freshest items to diners. Surrounded by fresh goat cheese, tasso, hogs head cheese, liver, boudin and Zapp’s potato chips, the chef skillfully intertwined these fatty specimens of goodness with seared scallops over corn and crab bisque that was absolutely wonderful. Ending it all was a peach cobbler that was hands down the best doggone sweet thing I’ve put in my mouth since my last bite of salted caramel gelato at Carpe Diem.
I would be remiss to not comment that the service, wine pairings and décor were top notch, as was the company of my fellow food lovers. I simply cannot name another dinner party I have been to where literally 15 minutes was devoted to how to make a bacon straw. Maybe 10 minutes in the past, but 15 was a new record.
Seriously consider tasting Augello’s greatness before the Yankees drag him off to New York so they can nosh cracklins like popcorn.
| Fried rabbit livers were served with Sriracha, wild honey glaze
and bread-and-butter pickled shallots.
| A group of local food writers and bloggers is treated to a preview of
chef Manny Augello’s James Beard House dinner.
|Seared scallop with corn and crab bisque and herbed cheddar-bread crumb crust|
|Jolie’s General Manager Chelsie Lovell shares one of the
night’s fine wines with bartender/server Tanner DuCote.
| Chef Manny Augello scoops the buttermilk ice cream to top his
Ruston peach cobbler with shortbread crumble and buttermilk ice cream.
Dessert was paired with Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2010.
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