When Fine Dining Meets The Dining Room Table

When Fine Dining Meets The Dining Room Table

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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9 Foods That Make Ranch The Ultimate Dressing

Don't knock it till you try it.

It's no secret that ranch is the best of all dipping sauces and salad dressings. From the basics, like carrots, to the odds, like chips, ranch goes with everything. I, personally, am a ranch fanatic, so I decided to put together a list of all things you can eat with ranch.

1. Salad

Of course, first and foremost, we have a salad. Ranch is without a doubt the salad dressing of all salad dressings.

2. Chicken fingers/nuggets

Not as uncommon as it used to be, ranch has become a dipping sauce for chicken fingers and chicken nuggets at almost every restaurant. To me, a certain restaurants' ranch matches their chicken and no where else.

3. Vegetables

Although it was one of ranch's first intended uses, I probably use ranch for vegetables the very least. I mean, come one, who wants to snack on carrots and celery when there are french fries?

4. Hot wings

Whether it's to cool the heat or give it a little more flavor, ranch with a hot wing is a MUST! Beware, it may get a little messy... or a lot.

5. French fries

In my opinion, this is the best way to eat ranch. Nothing beats a beer battered french fry with cheese on top smothered in ranch, or a french fry from McDonald's dipped in ranch; either way, fries and ranch are the perfect pair.

6. Potato chips

I was skeptical about this one, but don't knock it until you try it! Dipping a ruffle potato chip in ranch is to die for! You'll never eat them without it again.

7. CLUB crackers

If you've never had CLUB crackers dipped in ranch, or any salad dressing for that matter, you need to reevaluate the way you're living you're life. You are seriously missing out.

8. Pizza

Another one of those that will change your life if you ever eat them together. Ranch and pizza go together like bacon and eggs.

9. Baked potatoes

Whether you're into ranch powder or ranch dressing, you can't go wrong with adding a little to your baked potato.

Although these are all ways to use ranch as a dip or dressing, there are so many ways to use it; seasoning on meat, crust on pizza, store-bought dip for potato chips. You name it, you can eat it with ranch.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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Best Cappuccino: Frothing Milk with Steam Nozzle in Simple Clear Steps

Frothing Milk Coffee!

What is the difference between cappuccino and latte macchiato?

The difference between cappuccino and latte macchiato is very simple. Both coffee preparations are based on espresso with whipped hot milk. Only the proportions and order of preparation are slightly different.


Difference between cappuccino and latte macchiato Cappuccino

• A Cappuccino consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 warm milk, and 1/3 milk foam. With a Cappuccino, the milk and then the foam is poured onto a freshly brewed espresso. The milk should be mixed with the espresso so that an attractive and tasty mixture is created, in which the cream combines with the foam into a beautiful mocha-colored paste. Espresso puts you with dark roast coffee beans and an espresso machine. This machine must be equipped with a steam nozzle, with which you can froth the milk. I will explain this at the end of the article: How can you froth milk? 


• A Latte Macchiato is also made with espresso and hot milk. A Latte Macchiato has proportionately more milk than a Cappuccino. The milk is heated with steam and often served in a large glass, where the freshly brewed espresso is slowly poured through the milk foam and floats on the hot milk. This gives you an excellent separation of the warm milk at the bottom, the espresso on top of that, topped with the layer of milk foam.


Both coffee preparations are similar and have the same basis: milk foam, hot milk, and a single espresso. But, if properly prepared, the difference between Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato is the proportions of these ingredients and the different way of serving. Both coffee preparations have one thing in common: pure enjoyment!


How can You Froth Milk? 

If milk frothing with steam succeeds, you will be able to make the best cappuccino and latte macchiato!

Usually, there is a little problem about frothing milk with the steam nozzle in the manual of your espresso coffee makers. Experimenting yourself often leads to overheated milk and a failed foam layer. From now on we will do it differently:


What do you need?

Before you start with milk foaming, you need at least the following:

• Well preheated espresso machine with steam pipe

• ice cold milk

• milk jug made of stainless steel

• clean cloth

• possibly a special milk thermometer

Preparation

• fill your milk jug with ice-cold milk just below the pouring spout

• make your espresso, and place it on the hot plate

• blow your steam pipe through until only steam comes out


Frothing milk with the steam nozzle simple steps

1. keep the milk jug diagonally underneath the steam pipe. Let the milk jug drop slightly so that the milk starts to rotate. The valve must remain below the milk edge!

2. let the steam pipe 'disappear' 1 to 2 cm below the milk edge

3. turn the tap for the steam open

4. Then lower the milk jug slightly so that the milk starts to rotate. The valve must remain below the milk edge! If the milk does not turn, adjust the angle of the steam nozzle.

5. You should now hear a slight hissing sound, if not then adjust the height of the steam pipe, go down with the jug slowly. This is the so-called stretching

6. As soon as the milk jug is getting hot, you go with the valve halfway through the jug

7. just a little further to warm up all the milk

8. as soon as the milk jug becomes too hot to hold (about 70 degrees) shut off the steam tap

9. tap the counter with the milk jug. So, you get the big air bubbles out and compact the milk foam

10. then you 'roll' the frothed milk until it starts to shine.

11. You can easily do the rolling in your hand or on the worktop with the milk jug

12. You can now make a cappuccino or latte macchiato from the frothed milk

13. finally blow the steam pipe through well

14. clean the steam nozzle with a clean cloth and blow through again!

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