I honestly never thought much about plates. In my younger days, I recall even avoiding them altogether and eating directly out of pots and pans to minimize the amount of dishes I had to wash. That was before I had the pleasure of dining with Chef at Per Se in NYC. When the iconic “Oysters and Pearls” dish arrived (only a few bites of caviar and savory tapioca pudding elevated on a sort of pyramid of 4 concentric and subtly textured plates), I recall commenting “all those plates must cost small fortune!” (which they do btw…somewhere on the order of $485 for the stack). Chef just matter-of-factly stated that “A plate is a chef’s canvas” in a way that suggested that if he had a spare $485 it would be a very tough decision as to whether to buy plates or start a college fund for his children. Now, many years later, I admit that I remember that dish tasting yummy but the over-the-top presentation is what is really etched into my memory.
Since the Kitchen opened in 2014, Chef has exhibited his passion for plateware by personally fabricating all sorts of food canvases ranging from shellacked river rocks to abalone shells. One time, he made wooden pine disks with stainless steel nails to impale little pickled garden vegetables. Most of these dishes are filed away like museum artifacts never to be used again and provide visual reminders of the late-summer menu of ’16 and such but they otherwise pretty much just get in the way.
Which brings me the point of this particular blog (yes, it has one). Chef won’t be needing storage space for his largest canvas yet because the Fall ’17 dessert is created right on your table. This chance to experience a little bit of Chicago’s famous Alinea restaurant right here in Rochester is a super fun climax to the 9 Course menu. While each creation is a little different, Chef personally paints a backdrop of white and dark chocolate and showers it with Raspberry Rock Candy. There are little Apples poached in Riesling and filled with housemade caramel, gooey chocolate lava cakes and delicate pumpkin pies plus many other fun ingredients I’ll keep secret. Not a single plate required! What a memorable end to a wonderful harvest menu. Spy out.