by Rachel Nash Perlow
We feel a bit of a Yenta’s pride in this as another OTB friend Eric Eisenbud, and former President of the chapter, was the event organizer, responsible for procuring the guest chef and provisions. For those who don’t know, “Les Marmitons is a gastronomic and social club of gentlemen who share a common interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts.“
Chef Christine Nunn discusses the menu with current NJ chapter President, Efrain Raices (right), and John Howlet (left), a past president of the NJ chapter and the current Vice President of Les Marmitons International.
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As morels are just coming into season in New Jersey, these tasty morsels had to be flown in from Oregon.
Yes, a gentleman’s club, as in men only. Jason was invited to cover the event for Off The Broiler, and I was a special guest of the Chef. Good thing I was there though, as Jason’s pretty busy with his day job this week and I get to tell you all about it. I’ve spoken with a couple of the wives about Les Marmitons’ men only policy.
Isn’t it anathema in this day and age to continue to operate as such? It may be, but the wives of the members love it. It’s an extracurricular activity where they know where their husbands are, and they sometimes reap the benefits of their interest in cooking. Also, once a year, around Valentine’s Day, they do a special dinner for the wives. There are no concerns about dancing girls a la Flintstones’ Loyal Order of Buffaloes here.
What there is is good food, wine, and camaraderie. At each event a professional Chef is invited to lead the group in preparing a gourmet meal. The guest chef creates a menu, provides the recipes and guides the members, but they do very little of the actual cooking. Instead, the members draw lots to decide which course they will be working on. They break up into groups to do so, while the guest chef floats, offering instruction and guidance to the amateur chefs.
But these are amateurs in the Olympic sense of the word. Some of these men arrive with batterie de cuisine to rival any professional. In fact, Chef Nunn commented to me that when she cooks outside her own kitchen she usually just brings her own chefs knife and makes do with whatever else she finds on site.
I would want a few other other implements, but Chef Nunn can make a mayonnaise from scratch with a wooden spoon! Meanwhile, some members bring tool boxes full of knives and gadgets that would make Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor weep for joy. This is manly cooking after all.
So, enough commentary, on to the meal. As it was scheduled for April, a Spring Menu was requested of Chef Nunn. And boy did she deliver. Featuring Morel Mushrooms, English Peas, Ramps and Spring Lamb, as well as a healthy dose of Foie Gras.
As the members arrived, an array of D’Artagnan Country Pate and Truffle and Foie Gras mousse was served.
President Efrain Raices welcomes us all and introduces Chef Nunn.
The members prepping the main course of Spring Lamb with Ramp Persillade.
Chapter Sommelier David Vogel lays out perfect circles of puff pastry for the Foie Gras with Pears second course.
Perfectly tied lamb loins ready for roasting.
Amuse Bouche: Creamy Morel Mushroom Costini, paired with Concannon Limited Release Petite Syrah.
First Course: Chilled English Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche and Mint, paired with Guenoc Lake County Chardonnay.
At this point, there was a cooking break, as Chef Nunn demonstrated her Foie Gras searing method to the members. It involves using two pans preheated smoking hot so as to sear the medallions quickly to medium rare without overly melting the fat.
Second Course: Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with a Pear Reduction and Blueberry Honey Drizzle, paired with Castelnau De Suduiraut Sauternes Blend White.
Third Course: Roasted Loin of Spring Lamb with Ramp Persillade, paired with Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz.
Fourth Course: Pear Crumble with Honey Roquefort Ice Cream and Candied Bacon, paired with Merryvale Muscat. You may recall the Candied Bacon topped Roquefort Ice Cream from Chef Nunn’s triumphant appearance at the Bergen County Ultimate Chef competition in January 2009.
Chef Christine Nunn is presented with a certificate of appreciation from Les Marmitons, and she thanks them for the honor and complements the members on their excellent cooking skills.