When Fine Dining Meets The Dining Room Table

When Fine Dining Meets The Dining Room Table

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Walking into Theo Friedman's apartment this past Friday, I'm instantly welcomed with a smile and his homemade tangerine ginger soda. I take a sip as introductions are made, and as the unique combination of flavors hit my palette, I know this food-filled night will not be like any other. His parents apartment is spacious and open, and with the amount of art on the walls, it largely resembles an art gallery. I will soon learn how completely accurate this is.

Friedman, 22, is a recent graduate from Tufts, now residing in the city. While at Tufts, he received a $350 grant from the school to create a 20 course meal for ten people. The purpose of the project was to write a paper on how the food industry has created a disconnect between the people preparing the food, and the people cosuming it. This disconnect is one of the driving forces behind Theo's decisions to do pop-up restaurants versus working at or owning an actual restaurant, at least for now.

"The guest can come into the restaurant and have the most amazing experience and feel like the happiest person in the world, and the person making the food could be having a terrible time. I don’t ever want to eat somewhere where the people aren’t totally excited about being there and making that food. I know in most restaurants that that’s not totally doable, but that’s what I’m trying to create".

As guests (10 total) begin to trickle in for the event, it's clear that Friedman means what he's saying. Each guest is greeted the way I was. Even though he has two friends, Tyler and Amadou, acting as sous chefs/assistants/waiters, he greets each set of guests personally. He takes the time to put their coats away for them if needed, all the while getting to know each person who arrives. Most of the guests have found out about the dinner through a friend or acquaintance of Theo's, while two are complete strangers.


Friedman opening sodas for arriving guests

The final guests arrive, and we're seated at the dining room table together. While there has been the initial awkwardness of 10 strangers warming up to each other, conversation is soon flowing smoothly. I learn that seated around me is a lawyer, two college seniors (one majoring in fish biology), a food entrepreneur, and an actress, among others. Some are complete foodies, and blew me away with their knowledge of restaurants, coffee shops, and even food trucks in the city. Some are just there because they heard the food was good and the experience was great, and they haven't even eaten half the things on the menu before.

The first course served isn't on the menu, but no one is complaining. A bite-sized introduction for what lays ahead of us, Theo tells us that we have given chunks of smoked green mango topped with an untraditional mole, toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower. There is silence around the table as everyone takes in the sweet smokiness of the mango complimenting the spiciness of the mole.

The mango is served on a platter that Friedman made himself

The following course is a warm edamame financier (a sort of light sponge cake) topped with a soy goat cheese mousse, lava salt, and lime. One of my favorites of the night, it perfectly exemplified the unique dishes that Friedman concocts. One wouldn't generally think to combine edamame and goat cheese, but he did so in a way that was both creative and delicious.

A squash tart is served next, and what stands out most about these are the squash chips that decorate them. They're impossibly thin, leaving everyone in awe as the chips practically dissolve in our mouths. Theo's voice comes from the kitchen, momentarily interrupting our reverie, "You're all very quiet". We assure him that that's a good thing.

As the next course is served, Theo tells us that this is where we're really starting to get adventurous. "Then again, you're already eating dinner in a stranger's apartment". He goes on to tell us that this round is a "course in gluttony", and he doesn't disappoint as we are served black garlic doughnuts filled with black garlic and yuzu kosho aioli, topped with sea urchin. Easily my favorite of the night, the warm doughnut is, "Such an umami bomb", as one guest puts it. The only downside of this dish is the despair one feels once they realize that they have finished it.

The following courses dazzle with Friedman's take on pastrami and rye (which included a pork belly that cut like butter), mini sandwiches made from mushrooms, and a roasted parsnip paired with brown butter solids and pickled blackberry (pictured below). Each dish surprises and delights us as we try combinations of foods that we have never had before, and likely never will again.

"I get bored very easily", he tells us later. Some guests have stepped outside for post-dinner cigarettes, while the rest of us are gathered around the island in the kitchen conversing with Theo. He is constantly creating new dishes, and tells us that the only thing he has repeated recently was the black garlic doughnut, and even that he's only made for guests twice. I am told later that one of the reasons that he's so hesitant to return to the fine dining restaurant industry is because there is the expectation for the restaurants that you have to have a set menu, because people are going to want to come back for the same things. This just isn't how Friedman currently operates, and so instead he has turned to his out of the box pop up technique to create this unique dining experience along with the unique food he serves.

Crunch chicharron, dulce de leche, black lime

One of the things I’ve learned is that you really can’t force anything A lot of the time I’ll have an idea that’s there but not completed and there’s some component that’s missing and I’ve found that if I try to force it then it ends up being not that great

. I try to just let it happen as naturally as possible and that's when I get something worth serving.



Toasted hay whipped cream, burnt clove meringue, blueberry mousse, preserved blueberries, nasturtiums

The bar for good food that stands out is set to nearly impossibly high standards when it comes to New York City. Delicious food isn't wanted but expected when one is eating in New York, and Friedman's food goes above and beyond. Each dish is served with an artistically beautiful presentation, and each bite taken is packed with unique flavors and textures. Keep an eye on this one, because when he eventually does open a restaurant, it has a Michelin star coming its way.

To see more of Friedman's creations and stay up to date on when his next pop-up's are, you can follow him on Instagram @theorykitchen and check out his newly opened website theorykitchen.co

Cover Image Credit: mine

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Sweet Potatoes Are The Most Underrated Vegetable Of All Time

Everything you need to know about the pieces of edible gold we call "sweet potatoes" and why they will always perish over any plain old potato.

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The potato. The heart of the American food industry. A versatile vegetable crop soaked in grease that brings us some of our favorite appetizers and sides. From french fries, to curly fries, to tater tots, to baked potatoes, to hash browns, this hallowed vegetable has become the Johnny Depp of the vegetable family. Now, we are all aware that the configurations of potatoes are limitless, but we commonly disregard the potato's delicious and neglected brother: the sweet potato. I, a credible food connoisseur and highly experienced eater, am here to tell you why you are missing out on a world of flavor if you choose to dismiss the beloved sweet potato and its many entities.

Let me first start this tirade by proving to you my credibility...I, too, once believed that regular french fries were better than sweet potato fries. I scoffed at the idea of choosing those ridiculous orange sticks over my tried-and-true plain boys. I could not be convinced that any sweetness should impede on my savory snacks.

These were dark times.

It was not until a mere month ago that my mind was changed forever.

It was a sunny (scary) Sunday morning, and my pounding head led me on a mission to indulge myself in the finest breakfast foods. I entered my favorite breakfast diner, Angelo's, and waited anxiously for my waiter to stroll over. She filled our water cups and asked if we wanted to start with any appetizers. Before my stingy self could even decline the offer, my best friend ordered a round of sweet potato fries for the table and the waiter scurried away. I stared blankly at her for a solid minute. I could not wrap my head around the concept of munching on sweet potato fries at 8 in the morning. She just stared back and said, "Trust me." Suddenly, a tray of blood orange sticks and a mysterious tan sauce appeared in front of my face. As much as I wanted to ponder the morality of this decision, the hunger began to take over, and I shoved one of the fries into my mouth.

In an instant, it was as if time and space had lost all meaning. When my teeth hit the fry, the perfectly crusted outer shell crunched softly making a sound much like your foot crushing a dried leaf. The now exposed inside of the fry was the perfect blend of mush and warmth that felt like your mouth was receiving a hug. The flavor...unbelievable. It didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't a fry — this was a culinary experience. This fry single-handedly blew the roof off of any predisposed ideas I had about American cuisine.

I am well aware that my fry experience cannot be simulated again by any average food-goer, but I challenge you, the reader of this article, to get out there and enjoy a sweet potato in any form. Stray from your basic fries or tater tots and dabble in a sweet treat which will undoubtedly bring you flavorful satisfaction.

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