Four of the city's top pastry chefs cooked a special savory tasting menu at Aldea last night, while Aldea chef George Mendes handled canapes and dessert. Alex Stupak (wd~50), Johnny Iuzzini (Jean Georges), Brooks Headley (Del Posto), and Michael Laiskonis (Le Bernardin) all took inspiration from Mendes' Portuguese-influenced menu, while incorporating their own pastry techniques.
Laiskonis plated a duck with parsnip, hazelnut, vanilla, brown butter and black rice, and was already thinking about how to rework it for the dessert menu at Le Bernardin: "The sweeter elements on the plate could easily transition." At the dinner, he asked servers to pour a duck jus tableside like you might see at his home restaurant—"It's Le Bernardin, man."
Stupak paired sea urchin with cauliflower: "It needed to be colorful. I'm a pastry chef, I need bright colors," he explained.
Cracking jokes throughout the night (especially regarding Mendes' "rustic" ice cream scooping method), the pastry crew seemed a bit relieved when the dinner finally came to a close. "I don't think any of us will be quitting our day jobs any time soon," said Laiskonis, Budweiser in hand.