A slight anxiety arises as I commit to this new CR8. This is my first CR8 Dining Installation since I left Los Angeles last year. I live in a new city, Seattle, and starting all over again comes with the territory. So here we go…
The Concept: UnNatural
I started noticing things that I was attracted to in the natural world were elements inconsistent with natural law. A deviation from what was normal, which was bringing out curiosity and beauty where I was not expecting it. This in turn became a conundrum of the senses. Yet to embrace these unorthodox states is to expand expectation and drift into an alternative state of appreciation.
The UnNatural Dining Environ:
It was important to me to find a group of designers in Seattle. Now that Seattle is home to CR8, I want to be as local as possible whenever possible.
Yuri Kinoshita, Easily Seattle’s most exciting lighting designer works closely with the team to make a beautiful lighting expression.
Rob Hendrickson of OneWorks custom designed this incredible dining table just for the event. His creativity with wood, glass, steel and iron are evident.
The final masterpiece.
Joy Rondello Using her incredible interior design vision, we were able to create a dining scenario that we felt expressed our concept of UnNatural.
The dining scene with finishing touches.
Stefanie Hering and Hering Berlin: Hering makes the most beautiful porcelain i’ve ever seen. It’s the perfect artistic platform for me to catapult my cuisine into beautiful realms. Thank you Hering!
Andreas Fabian No one knows spoons like Andreas Fabian. His designs and extensive research on dining continue to contribute new experiences for CR8.
Katja Bremkamp One of the world’s best cutlery designers!
Getting organized. Photo by Tim Mar
A sea of design wonders and my ever so necessary PolyScience Circulator.
The UnNatural Dishes:
I discovered a bottle of shampoo made by Hermes. According to the bottle, it is made from the water of a green orange, basically an unripe orange. It is also the scent of one of their elusive perfumes. I was curious and believed that it probably didn’t smell very good. I opened the bottle and to my surprise, it was incredible. For weeks I thought of why they would take an unripe fruit, which is usually discarded or thought of as imperfect, and make it into something precious. I was inspired to create a dish based on this scent and approach to the their UnNatural expression.
The dish is called Fleur D’Hermes: Beet panna cotta, green orange perfume, wood yogurt, pickled mustard seeds, bee pollen, beet glass.
The guests are given their plates, then a bouquet of Calla Lilies is placed in the center of the table. To their surprise, they were instructed to take a flower from it, and pour their edible green orange perfume onto their plates to complete the dish. The dish was sweetened completely with honey from killer bees.
Is this Wonderland?: Uni veloute, lime leaf, avocado tartare, steelhead sake caviar, jalapeno snow, chive oil, pickled muscat grapes
I had been thinking of these flavors before in context of a salad. I sat down to watch The Matrix and by the end of the movie I had finalized this dish. Why is it that one person looks at life and see’s nothing more than a series of boring and mundane acts that make up a day. Yet another person can see a different world looking through the same 2 eyes. Is it UnNatural to choose our own truth?
Zeal 8:Smoked ember guanciale, barley & seaweed consomme gelee, liquid sunchoke, douglas fir brioche
Upon reading a story on the 7 deadly sins, there was talk of an 8th sin known which concerned passion. It spoke of removing this feeling from our lives and hearts to truly spiritually advance. I immediately realized how this was the most UnNatural feeling for me to not have. The flavor of the guanciale alone made me ooze with passion.
The Spirit of Tea: Homemade Tofu Misozuke, Assam tea dashi bouillon, pickled radish, apple, ginger, Hibiscus flowers, scallion flowers, Golden Yunnan crisp
The Japanese and India have for many centuries consumed tea. Their disciplines lead them to even have ceremonies just to honor it’s flavor and meaning. Tea is to be appreciated and enjoyed alone to appreciate the leaves in it’s simplicity and perfection. CR8 will explore it’s own UnNatural combination of several teas in one dish.
I tasted Tofu Misozuke in Singapore while doing a guest chef stint at 2am lab with Janice Wong and Jonathan Sparber. It was an unforgettable flavor. It is currently not available in the states, so I took on the 2 month task of making my own for this event.
Right in the middle of the dinner, a special diversion manifested.
I had tasted a rare and special coffee called Geisha with Edwin Martinez of Onyx Coffee Bar. I found it to be so wonderful I created a dish to be paired with it. So we had Brandon Paul Weaver of Slate Coffee Roasters brew it table-side whilst describing it’s preciousness and flavor profiles. Under the cloak of UnNatural dining, we stopped all wine flowing and intervened with Geisha Coffee. Thanks for the custom roasting Seth!
The Geisha Project: Peking style trumpet royale mushrooms, pear, nutmeg, chicken skin, lemongrass carnaroli risotto. Served with a glass spoon of Geisha Coffee.
Death of Czar: BB Ranch pork cheek, black truffle, cinnamon oil, ash, umami caramel lacquered parsnip, pork heart, arugula blossoms
Is it UnNatural to appreciate the gift of death? To holistically embrace a living creature and recognize the importance of it’s flesh and parts to feed and nurture others. With this comes great responsibility and the pig was butchered especially for this dish.
Detailing the Czar trays.
Pouring a special blend of a rooibos tea mixture with rare mountain rose apple in ghostspoons.
Synthetic Chihuly:Coconut, rooibos & rose petal, lemongrass buttermilk, frozen sake (in a faux flower glass bowl)
Synthetic; An element made by synthesis or artificially made to imitate a natural product. The work of Dale Chihuly in it’s UnNatural forms and contours magnify the impossible and take form in the most fragile of states. This is my edible inspiration.
The coconut cream was made to mimic rubber in texture.
An ice flower bowl was created by Jenya designs to house the frozen sake that each diner spooned onto their plates.
UnGaudi: Chile ancho escabeche, sweet goatcheese, IPA sabayon, Noble maple syrup, tapioca
Antoni Gaudí was an architect born in 1852 in Catalonia, Spain. His works were influenced by Oriental, Persian, Indian and even Mayan cultures. He is one of the few people who’s work has no time frame. To see his work now, you would not know if it was 200 years old or 1,400 years from the future. One of the rarest UnNatural gifts is to be able to transcend one’s work in a context void of time.
Explaining details of the dish about to be presented. Photo by Tim Mar
The UnNatural Menu is handed out to the guests at the end of the dinner. The only way to read it is to hold it up to a mirror.
The Artisans and Beyond:
Working closely with Tyler Gray of Mikuni Wild Harvest to acquire rare, specific and wonderful ingredients for each course. His suggestions and knowledge helped me to pinpoint the perfect flavors. One of the most important companies for every chef who needs the absolute best items and personal attention!
Tyler photo by Grant Harder.
William Von Scheneidau of BB Ranch in Seattle for his highly prized pork. Building a wonderful relationship with this man and we will doing things together in the future!
*Special thanks to Eliza and ChefShop in Seattle for providing some of the best ingredients from around the world!
That’s exactly what every chef wants to see.
Special thanks to Chef Isaac Rivera for being my right hand man! It would not have been possible to have such a fluid and fun experience without you! Your the best!
Thanks to Shana Lynn Chester, Andrew Pierce, Jessica Vouk, Marianna Stepniewski, and Ken Lee for all your involvement and help. I look forward to doing it again next time.
After the storm.
A big thank you for the beautiful space at Bandia Rua, it was the perfect canvas to which I could paint my vision.
A very grateful thanks to Mataio and Jessica Gillis of Ciao Thyme, thanks for the help.
CR8 UnNatural proved to be a spectacular experience for me and everyone involved. I have made some wonderful new connections in the food, art, and design world and look forward to what the next CR8 will be.