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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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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A Saturday In The Life Of A Freshman

Welcome to Darty Season

epgainey
epgainey
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Have you ever had a more stereotypical freshman's Saturday than my friends Maddie, Lauren, Jocelyn, Meg, Barbara, and I? Keep reading to see a packed day in darty season from a freshman's point of view.

9:00 am

My alarm that I meant to set for the day before goes off. I begrudgingly roll over, and turn it off, falling back asleep.

10:00 am

I finally wake up, roll, or jump, out of my lofted bed, grab my laptop, and do a little studying for my exam on Monday -- there's no time for that later today, so I've gotta get some of it done then.

10:30 am

Shower. Pick an outfit. Brush teeth. Makeup. Pack a bag of extra clothes.

12:00 pm

I walked downstairs to the lobby to meet two of my friends who were gonna walk with me to Tutweiler Hall.

12:30 pm

My friends and I at the fundraising event

Elizabeth Gainey

We arrived at Tut, met our friends, then left to go to a philantropy event at Sig Tau sponsored by B+, an organization that assists the families of children diagnosed with cancer. Their burgers and fries were top notch.

2:30 pm

The Hackberrys, a band comprised of UA students, played the event. We left to go back to Tut after a few songs.

3:00 pm

We finally got back at Tut, changed clothes, listened to music, hung out.

3:45 pm

We *finally* left for Pike (sorry mom!). You know how long it takes five girls to get ready, so don't act so shocked.

4:10 pm

Myself, super escstatic about having to wait in a mob of people to get in

Elizabeth Gainey

Have you ever arrived to a frat when it's at capacity? Yeah, around 100 screaming girls were shoving to get into the darty. It was an experience like no other, but eventually, we made our way in. It may have been in groups of two, and we definitely lost a girl to the crowd (she's fine!), but we made it.

6:30 pm

After dancing on an elevated surface or two, walking in circles around their courtyard, watching an active climb into a basketball goal, and waiting in a way-too-long line for the restroom, we decided to go back to Tut.

6:45 pm

We definitely made a stop to grab a snack or two on our way back to Tut.

7:15 pm

After realizing that none of the parties at night were gonna start until around 10 pm, we decided to watch some random YouTube videos and Netflix to pass the time. There was also another stop for snacks at the infamous Julia's on the first floor of Tut.

9:30 pm

My third outfit change of the day. We decided to leave Tut for frat row for the third time that day, too. I wanna say my total steps for the day was around 17,000? It was a lot.

10:00 pm

Best view in the house (Myself on the left, Maddie on the right)

Elizabeth Gainey

We got to Sigma Pi as the party was just starting to build up. Their band room was filled within the hour, and they had a pretty good DJ. Although the active yelling at me and my friend to get off the stage was no fun.

11:00 pm

Have you ever faked out a frat boy with a soccer ball? Well, now I can say I have.

12:00 am

After someone pulled the fire alarm on Sigma Pi, we decided to walk back to Tut.

12:45 am

My two Ragecrest friends and I decided to take the bus back because, after the stretch to and from frat row three times, we had no more walking left in us.

1:00 am

Canes chicken tenders. Enough said. It's the way to end a night.

It was a very packed, but very fun and eventful day. We pretty much hit all the spring semester stereotypes: walking along and to frat row, going to a darty, going to a frat party, going to a philanthropy event, and more. As crazy as the day was, I highly recommend trying a day like this once because you won't forget it!

epgainey
epgainey

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