Deconstructed

Chef Cipolla does a “deconstructed” dish occasionally with the most recent example being the Gnocchi Bolognese on the current “Italy” menu. You can think of a deconstructed dish as an example of taking ingredients that are normally combined, possibly changing their forms, and then plating them together in a different way.

Deconstruction has, in some very justified cases, gotten a bad rap.  At worst it’s pretentious “chef-speak” that is reflective of laziness and failed attempts at trendiness.  A deconstructed burrito or omelet, for example, is just stupid.  Even this Spy (who has virtually no culinary talent) can take avocado, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, shallots and cheese; place them separately on a plate and call it a deconstructed omelet.  I could charge you $20 and ask you to imagine that if it was all “constructed” properly it would be as wonderful as a same omelet whipped up by Jacques Pepin (if I kidnapped him) in a Loire Valley Chateau (if I had one).  Alas, it wouldn’t and you would see right through my BS.

However, at its best, I think a deconstructed dish is an honest and creative attempt to give a diner a glimpse into the mind of the Chef.  It’s a way to take the tastes of a familiar and expected dish and rearrange them in unique and exciting ways to try to change the diner’s perception.   When brilliantly executed (and folks I’ve thought about this next statement for an inordinate amount of time and I know it’s a bit hokey but here it goes) your experience is more like catching the scent of a lover.  Your mind takes those flavors and puts them together into the best damn Gnocchi Bolognese that you’ve ever had … that you actually didn’t have.  So fun.  That’s what a dining experience and the Kitchen is all about.

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