Monday, February 21, 2011

Dinner #32 - Cold Winter Night with Some Comfort Food

For this dinner we were able to bring some very close friends as well as some strangers. The night was full of a very fun conversation and incredible comfort food.

The now famous croquetas with wild boar and fontina cheese. This was our second run with the croquetas and mastered the recipe. Later we replaced the wild boar with panceta, so good.

To add to the comfort food, I was able to create a personal favorite,  pasta ai frutti di mare. With a little added arrabbiata spice, just to heat up the night.
Another favorite, pumpkin creme brulee.
A lot of smiles, always the best sign for an amazing night! Oh and congratulations to Alonso and Alex on their recent engagement! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thinking Hurts, Don't Do It!

As we were having our last glass of wine and finishing up a delicious dessert Felipe had cooked up, one of our guest took a deep breath in and said: "I want to have dinner with this group every night".

But let me backtrack to this dinner's preparation, and why I wasn't expecting that beautiful comment to be coming out of any of our guests' mouths. As most of you already know, much of the Thursday experience lies in the connections amongst our guests. Whether romantic, professional, spiritual, we absolutely love it when connections happen at our dinner table. The pleasure of seeing these connections happen I think comes from how hard it is to craft these. First off, since we barely know most of our guests, or only know of them virtually, its hard to know which way its going to go, how they are socially and who they are going to click with. Secondly, these connections can't be over the top obvious, because then they become awkward, forced and plain boring.

How I usually go about finding strangers that can potentially connect:
What I try to do is ask our guests for their life "status", I asked them what's in their mind at the moment and whether professional or personal, what kind of project they are involved in. If I don't get around to asking that question, google is always a good friend! plus it isn't such a bad idea to research at least a little bit, about the strangers who are about to come over to our home. Facebook also can come in handy and help you put a face to a story and maybe even find some "friend of a friend" type of a connection. All of these tricks help us figure out people's personalities, who they are looking to connect with, and how Worth Kitchen might just be that unexpected place where that connection happens.

For dinner #33, I had absolutely no time to plan out the table and it sort of came together organically on its own. While I wasn't sure if the guests were one hundred percent right together, Felipe ensured me they were. How did he know this? INTUITION. While he knew two of the people invited, his hunch was that the entire table would come together very nicely, and that it did. Call it an act of randomness, or Felipe's strange (but almost 100% of the time accurate) intuition, but two of the girls invited shared something very special...they shared a best friend! It was unbelievable to us all! These two girls knew each other by name and by stories, of course, but their best friend "Sarah" had never gotten around to physically introduce the two of them.

As we said goodbye to our guests, it felt so good that no matter how much we could plan for these connections to happen, that they continue to take place regardless, and that this project has an element of randomness that cannot be planned, thought out or analyzed, it just is. It felt so good to think that no matter what happens, if we let this project a little loose, it will still take its beautiful course.

So let the randomness in and the analysis out. Cheers to enjoying the ride!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Worth Kitchen's Dinner Party - March 17th

Hello friends of Worth Kitchen!

We are organizing our very next dinner party for March and hope all of you can join us!

 Please see the link below to purchase your tickets.

All I can share with you at this moment is, yes we know its St. Patrick's Day, but your chef is part Irish. So what better way to spend St. Patrick's day!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Story Truly Worthy of a Blog... Part 2 of The Crazy Day of Our First Big Event!

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read Part 1 of this story, I highly recommend it.

I now take you back to right outside the doors of Chelsea Market where yours truly just discovered that his wallet was missing, had no cash on him, therefore no way to make it back to the venue to continue cooking and to receive the delivery of 70 bottles of wine (oh, and in one hand he carried 70 perishable scallops):

Part 2 of  the Crazy Day of Our First Big Event!

In a flash, my mind shuts down and my brain takes over! Stop thinking start doing. Tamy works 11 blocks away. I need to run over to her office and pick up a credit card or cash. After 3 calls she does not answer. Must call Christina amazing friend and her co-worker. She answers. Thank God. I have $40 waiting for me at the reception. THANK YOU CHRISTINA. I get back to the venue, drop off the scallops and rush down to receive the wine. 

10 boxes fo wine is going to be a pain in the ass to take up, even with an elevator. As the wine is being carried up into the building, I hear a familiar voice "Felipe!" I turn around and see Daniel Mauser from a long time friend, walking by. "Need a hand?" A smile grows on my face from ear to ear. 

Everything is ready, but I take a quick look at my watch. Its almost 4. DAMN! I need to run. I rush home. The smell of rosemary and short ribs lingers through the entire hall. The food is ready. I pull it from the oven and it is perfect. I spend another 45 minutes prepping the sauce and the ribs as well as getting all the additional items ready to carry to the event. I carry everything down stairs including 2 big crates of eggs! As I step out into the cold street with all my equipment and the eggs, I realize that it was that time of day when all the taxis are off duty. Juan, our doorman sees me stressed out and decides to be proactive. He runs off 5 blocks and gets a cab for me and brings it back to the building. Again, just the help I needed at the right time.

I arrive at the venue close to 5:30. I still have to make the croquetas, the avocado soup, the pasta, the mushroom sauce, the coconut sauce, the batter for the cakes... Everyone that was not doing anything started pitching in. Cutting mushrooms, shallots, anything they could get their hands on. 
The kitchen was on fire, getting things done. Guests began arriving promptly at 8 and the kitchen was in full swing. First plate was served at 9. 7 people were pitching in, platting, serving, taking pictures... then a small disaster. Jacob, the friend that helped me out with the transportation in the morning, severely cut himself, and Helah, his fiancee and our partner, had to rush him to the hospital. From one second to the next, we were 2 men down. 

Then came the moment of realization. A flash of how everything was coming together. There is still much to be done, but considering everything that happend in the past 24 hours we needed to make this happen! As they say in show business, the show must go on.  In one second everyone left in the service caught "kitchen flow". Not one word about being 2 people down was uttered. We all just worked our ass off and made the night work as best as we could! Always with a smile on our face, making light of the situation and honestly, despite the craziness it came out to be an amazing night

Yes, the kitchen was crazy. Yes, there was a lot of time between one plate and the next. But considering everything that happened. We pulled it off really well.

There were so many things that I learned that day. Most important was I need to take the time to prep the kitchen 100% before the event. I cannot be chopping onions or mushrooms one hour before service. Make the time to get it done.  But the most important lesson from that day was that we can really make it by with a little help from our friends. Without the help of all of you we could not have done it. Thank you Jacob, Brendan, Christina, Daniel, Juan, Myriam (for the extra sauce pot), thank you all of our guests for helping us and allowing us to use you as our guinea pigs. We all had a blast.

And now for some more food porn!
Photos by Jamie via

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Story Truly Worthy of a Blog... Part 1 of The Crazy Day of Our First Big Event!

For anyone that attended the event on February 3rd, I am sure that you had a great time. The vibe in the room was palpable. I know I did, and I was deep in the crazy kitchen. I also know that along with the great time you guys had, there was also the slow roll out of the food. Well as I had mentioned during a quick toast at the end of service, thank you all for being our guinea pigs! It was an amazing learning experience.

I must say, that I had all the plans to be completely organized and prepped for the dinner, and for anyone that really observed the kitchen, that did not happen. Here is the story of what did happened... Let me take you back to 24 hours before the event... 


One day before the big event. Finishing work to make sure that I leave everything in order. Of course I need to take the next day off in order to spend the day prepping, etc.  I make my way to Eataly to purchase the final ingredients as well as the dishes for the vegetarians. In my mind everything was set. I had my checklist so off I go. 

The market takes a bit more time than what I thought. Plus I had to buy food for Tamy and myself for dinner... next thing I know its 9 PM and I am racing home. It is very important that I begin prepping the food the night before.  We have dinner, and then my cousin who is visiting from Miami comes by to spend a couple of hours with us. In my thoughts, this is great. She is very coordinated in the kitchen and can help me with a bunch of stuff. But that... well lets just say that didn't happen. Plus, I realize that obviously in the craze of getting everything together, I forgot some key ingredients.  

In the meantime, Tamy is beginning to have the pre-event jitters. In one hand she had the list of invitees, in the other her computer. 
"The tables are all screwed up!" she says.
"We cannot sit all the foodies with each other and the techies with the techies! I NEED HELP" she states.
Here I am with a knife in my hand, about to place the first incision into the clean shitake mushroom. 
"What do you want me to do? Stop prepping and work on the table list? I need to get this done!" I carefully reply. 
"YES!" she concludes...

So there I am, dedicating the precious hours that I had to prep the food to the seating chart instead. Which, granted, is very crucial to making the night work perfectly.  One of those subtle yet important details that we had planned. So of course it was important... but then again so is the food!

Next thing we know it is midnight and all I had done was chopped all the celery and the carrots.

"Baby, don't worry. You have this! Tomorrow wake up early and dedicate your time to prepping everything." my loving wife says to me in a very reassuring way. "It is more important to get a good night sleep. Tomorrow is a big day for you!"

Next day comes. we wake up at 7:30 and let the day sink in. It takes me a while to get everything in order. There were still those key ingredients that I needed to purchase, as well as begin getting all the pots, pans and equipment organized for the transportation to the venue. It was not until about 10 AM when I was back in my house. My gut begins to feel heavy and the eery feeling of stress begins to settle in. A friend is stopping by at 11 to help me transport everything to the venue and I still had to go pick up the scallops at "The Lobster Place" in Chelsea Market.

QUICK! Pull out the huge slab of short ribs. Begin to clean it. Remove most of the fat. Cut them into individual pieces. 36 SHORT RIBS! DAMN... luckily I had a huge stock pot ready to go and full of the chicken broth, carrots, celery, leeks, and wine ready. Oven pre-heated... put it all together and go! They need 4 hours to braise. Perfect. First part ready to go. Move on to the polenta. EASY! it just needs to sit for about one hour with water. Create the veggie broth for the vegetarians (throw some into the polenta for added flavor). Done. And then the phone begins to vibrate... my friend is 5 minutes away and I am still in PJs! SHIT!

Run, shower, shave, get dressed. Pack up the kitchen into a massive plastic crate and begin to take it down stairs... Obviously I completely ignored the check list that I had prepared for 3 days. Obviously I did not check that everything I needed was packed up in the crate. And obviously I did not make the final pocket check... I just had to get moving. The day was on top of me. 

Off we go to the venue, unpack everything and begin to setup the space with the tables. In my mind I knew that I still had to prep A LOT! But I figured I still had time. It was still early... next thing I know its 1:30 and I needed to rush to Chelsea Market for the scallops. The order had been placed and all I needed to do was go in pick them up, pay for them and off I go. I was also going to buy the bread at Amy's Bread and take advantage of the trip. 

My friend drops me off at Chelsea Market and leaves. I run in to The Lobster Place and ask for Brendan, the manager. Even though we had never met, we struck up a quick conversation soon to realize that we both shared an alma matter. Great. He brings out the scallops and give me the story of where they came from (a new vendor of theirs brought them in, they are farmed and taste spectacular). He hands me the final bill. I reach for my wallet, and at that moment, like a large boulder falling on my head (or a punch to the nose) I realize that my wallet is missing. I have 6 hours for the guest to begin to arrive and I am missing my wallet! Well the very gracious Brendan sees my face of panic and says. 
"Don't worry. Take them and then call me later with the credit card info."
"BRENDAN! THANK YOU!" I say with a tremble. 

I run out with the scallops in one hand the stress growing and growing in the other. I exit the building. Am about to hail a cab and then I realize... I DON'T HAVE MY WALLET! I am stuck in Chelsea cash less. OH MY GOD! 

To be continued...

And now some food porn!
Photos by Jamie via

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Faith Happens

Its hard to pick one thing from all the things that happened during our last dinner party. But as my creative team would tell me....please, just tell us the single most important take away from the night, the thing that was the most powerful, the one that sticks through and hits you at the core, the most memorable, the one idea that will stay in your short, medium, long term memory. With that in mind, for me, the story of our big 60 people dinner party was one about faith and trust.

Much more than aversion to risk lay the big question of whether or not we could really see this project all the way through and if so, what it all would truly look like at the end.  Did people have enough faith in our project to pay pal us, commit to the event, put it in their calendar almost a month in advance, and show up with an open mind?  Besides the love and utter respect I have for Felipe and his talent in the kitchen, could he really pull it off and serve 240 beautiful dishes? What about me? Did I have enough faith in myself, enough to control the tension and stress? Could I really see this through even if the unexpected got in the way? And finally, was Worth Kitchen the real deal, could its essence peek through even amongst the now larger crowds of people? Or would it show its face as yet another New York foodie event? So as you can see, for me the strong emotions leaned much more towards the "pre-event"; the unexpected, "anything could happen", "anything could go wrong" part of the spectrum.  And now seeing it in retrospect, I think faith was exactly the thing that got us through it all. Both faith and trust became the crucial elements that allowed everything to come together.  And the lesson of the night was that the greatest, most breakthrough ideas, the kick ass projects, those small businesses that make it big, much beyond having a groundbreaking idea needed to have people who believed it could really happen. So the magical thing about the night was that it was all tied together with a thread of faith, and for us to grow and keep transforming into bigger things, it will have to be exactly that element of trust that makes it all happen again and again.

Its funny for me to write a post about faith, since I have never been considered what you would call a "Believer". But I got to admit, I believe in Felipe, I believe in Worth Kitchen, and I have all the faith in the world that this project will help us grow in ways we never expected. So to all our guests, also true believers of ideas, thank you for joining us and making the night happen. We will hold you dear to our hearts and we hope you form part of many of our next "big steps" to come.

- Tamy

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Menu and Some Additional Pics...

click on the menu to see full size
The menu was catered to be something fun for everyone. One thing that was not mentioned here was the  fact that we created an alternative veggie menu for our friendly vegetarians. The pancetta croquetas were replaced with brown butter sage croquetas (still with fontina cheese). The scallops were replaced with grilled "nopales" (very traditional mexican dish, nopales are cactus) with grilled queso fresco. And the short ribs were replaced with broccoli rabe grilled with olive oil and salt with a homemade veggie broth.
Below are some pics, but many more are to come as well as Tamy's famous post where she will dive into some awesome insight about the night.


Friday, February 4, 2011


Thanks to Raul Mandru for the pic and comic!