New York hosts 'Fooding' extravaganza

For 52 hours this weekend, a mid-sized art space in New York's Chelsea neighborhood became a nonstop pop-up restaurant for star chefs in a battle of creativity and mouth-watering technique.

Thirteen top chefs from Europe and the United States embarked on four-hour, round-the-clock shifts to feed night owls and gourmets at Exquisite Corpse, an event hosted by French group Le Fooding.

The chefs are a mix of rising stars and culinary sages rounded up by Andrea Petrini, an Italian journalist and consultant who's spent the last 25 years in France. He created the three-day matrix that blends different countries, experience levels and styles.

"Building this is like creating alchemy - finding people who will play off of each other and are flexible enough to work with the format," he said, also explaining the surrealists' idea of the "corps exquis," where every chef's first course has to feature an element used by the chef in the preceding shift.

"If (French chef) Jean-Francois Piege - a perfectionist - came in here, he'd blow a gasket," Petrini says, gesturing at the residential-style kitchen and the zany idea of Exquisite Corpse as a whole.

Piege would not, however, have his feathers ruffled by the venue, where the centerpiece is a table for 40, bedecked at every meal with hundreds of candles and further lit by a great chandelier made of dozens of glass jugs.

Beneath it sits an ever-changing group of customers, ranging from the young and hip at 5:00 am to other chefs and foodies who fill the table at all hours.

For chefs, the tricky part is throwing together a meal that is representative of their style at a table thousands of miles away from the home kitchen, and where none of the purveyors are familiar.

"I brought a lot of stuff with me," said Blaine Wetzel, chef at The Willows Inn on Washington state's Lummi Island.

"Stuff," as it turns out, required an industrial-sized Igloo cooler packed to the gills with dry ice. The cooler threw off airport security so much that Wetzel and his crew, who arrived to the airport three hours early, were forced to take a later flight.

"Some of the food we do here doesn't make sense out of context. If you're not on the islands, it might seem pretty gimmicky," he said, citing a Native American kelp and herring roe dish he's currently featuring on Lummi Island.

What's in his cooler? Sockeye salmon caught by Willows Inn owner Riley Starks - fish featured in Wetzel's dish with celery and watercress.

"With the kind of food I make, if you order salmon from the wrong place, God knows what you'd get."

Listening to him talk, one gets the sense that, in part, chefs are here to show their cuisine to the rest of the world. Working alongside a group of high-ranking peers, they don't want to leave anything to chance.

So put that pressure together with the fact that they only get four hours to use the kitchen and the task of feeding the forty-odd guests several courses becomes a praise-worthy feat in itself.

"It's perilous," said chef Armand Arnal of La Chassagnette restaurant in Arles, France, whose plane arrived only four hours before his 1:00 am shift started on Saturday. He and his crew literally ran into the kitchen with their cooler.

"It's always hard to export your feeling, your cuisine," he said.

Ana Ros of Hisa Franko restaurant in Kobarid, Slovenia, cooked one of the most surprising meals of the weekend, thrusting her tiny country into New York's limelight.

"When you travel to New York City, you expect globalized food," she said. "But when you come from a small country like Slovenia, you should try to tell a little story about it - you want something from there."

Over four courses, she featured native ingredients like figs, goat's milk, trout and deer, and her black cod with black truffle foam and asparagus was one of the weekend's best dishes.

The cod held its form yet yielded under gentle pressure from a fork and the truffle foam vaulted each bite into the ether.

"In the countryside, it's not globalized, you move with the seasons and cook what nature gives you," said Ros. The recipe for her egg foam, for example, is based on a version her grandmother made for her as a girl, minus the truffles.

"It's made from egg yolk, vegetable broth, a little salt and some truffles. Stop. Nothing else."

Over the course of the weekend there were inevitable kitchen disasters.

Miscommunication could send entire courses into oblivion, chefs' egos grated, and there were broken glasses galore.

Yet there were also perfect and unexpected dishes, beautiful meals and the feeling that at five in the morning, or at any other time in the event's 52-hour stretch, you and your entourage could eat the finest food anywhere in the Big Apple, made by some of the best chefs in the world.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum