In the kitchen for Next Bocuse d'Or | Slideshows | Chicago Reader

September 18, 2013 Slideshows » Blogs

In the kitchen for Next Bocuse d'Or 

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A slide show of the dishes and preparations for Next restaurant's tasting menu inspired by the French cooking competition.
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Michael Gebert
Presentations at the Bocuse d'Or often represent some aspect of the country's history. Chicago's history as a printing center will be reflected in the presentation platter for the meat course.
Michael Gebert
Chef Dave Beran addresses the waitstaff before service.
Michael Gebert
Different parts of tonight's meal are set out on a tray for the chef to taste.
Michael Gebert
Tasting, Beran discovers a problem: inconsistency between a bearnaise gel made yesterday and one made today. Compounding the problem, slices of the two gels have been mixed together on the same tray; it takes several minutes of tasting to figure out which is which.
Michael Gebert
The slices of the inferior bearnaise gel are discarded and logs of the fresh gel are brought out for portioning.
Michael Gebert
In a corner, a pastry chef prepares the very last part of the meal: mignardises.
Michael Gebert
Three presentation platters will be walked through the room, as they would be shown to the judges at the Bocuse d'Or. This is the fish course: it will be a play on what Beran says is a traditional Michigan fisherman's dinner, trout and eggs.
Michael Gebert
The filleted trout skeletons are roasted and await plating.
Michael Gebert
The first course is a veal terrine served with house-baked baguettes. Because tasting menus so often begin with arty little bites, Beran wanted to start diners off with something substantial and rustically French instead, as a welcome.
Michael Gebert
Now come the arty little bites: a take on traditional caviar and creme fraiche on toast uses whipped beurre blanc in a wispy bread-crust cup.
Michael Gebert
One of Paul Bocuse's own recipes, reconfigured a la Next: ham mousse in a Madeira aspic.
Michael Gebert
Beran says this is one of the most difficult menus they've done, because very traditional French techniques and modernist ones are going on side by side. Keeping a steady stream of savory prawn souffles coming out of a busy oven is one of the biggest challenges posed by the former.
Michael Gebert
An elegant course of cauliflower custard with a thin layer of Alsatian rosé and squiggles of foie gras.
Michael Gebert
This salad came about because Beran thought charred lettuce tasted a little like peanuts. So the team wound up creating a deconstructed spring roll, with peanuts and shaved bonito and bottarga for the fish notes.
Michael Gebert
Before the fish courses, the platters are paraded through the dining room. A server advises that this is the one time flash photography is encouraged, to add to the red carpet effect.
Michael Gebert
The trout and eggs course: coddled and sous-vide eggs, celeriac, and pickled green blueberries, which taste like unusually fruity olives.
Michael Gebert
Starting the salmon course, on glass plates.
Michael Gebert
Beets and other vegetables, plated.
Michael Gebert
Beran jumps into the line to help out and make adjustments as needed. He changed the saucing on this dish from perfect round drops to free-form drizzles—drops are too expected, he says.
Michael Gebert
Once the edible part is plated on glass, the glass is placed atop a hollowed log filled with thyme, which is torched to produce aroma as you dine. This technique has been used in different ways for several Next menus—and dates back to Grant Achatz's earliest days at Trio, where boiling water was poured over rosemary for a lobster course.
Michael Gebert
The soup course is another classic Paul Bocuse recipe—mushroom consomme baked under a bread shell.
Michael Gebert
The meat courses begin with pheasant smoked in hay with roasted vegetables and a gelled sauce blanquette.
Michael Gebert
Plating the beef course
Michael Gebert
Meat and potatoes: rib eye rolled with boudin vert, with the bearnaise gel and a marrow bone piped with potato.
Michael Gebert
Cooks making, servers taking
Michael Gebert
The cheese course: Tete de Moine with cashews, pears, and milk skin.
Michael Gebert
How you carry the cheese course
Michael Gebert
Beran wanted to reflect midwestern flavors in the dessert courses even as they followed classic French forms. So the first dessert course is an apple pie version of an ice cream bombe.
Michael Gebert
The second has a cube of squash that's actually a box filled with sweeter items, surrounded by dabs of huckleberry pickling juice (gelled) and huckleberry yogurt, pecan cookie, and butter pecan ice cream.
Michael Gebert
Chef Beran, on the line
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Michael Gebert
Presentations at the Bocuse d'Or often represent some aspect of the country's history. Chicago's history as a printing center will be reflected in the presentation platter for the meat course.

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