Cooking with Friends!
Being in the food industry for as long as I have, I’ve become friendly with so many amazing chefs and have watched their careers grow from ground from the wee and humble beginnings to become some of the most prominent names in the business. One of those extraordinary chefs is Wayne Nish.
I ran into Wayne a few months ago at the 30th anniversary for De Gustibus, the cooking school at Macy’s Herald Square. We both taught at the school. I hadn’t seen him in a few years- since he closed his renowned restaurant March.
Wayne Nish has the distinct honor of having a total of 20 stars bestowed upon him by The New York Times over the past 20 years, as well as a Michelin star and countless other awards. An impressive feat for a man who created his own culinary education by tearing through Larousse Gastronomique, the culinary encyclopedia that taught him the nuances of pulling off a flawless béchamel and gloveboning his own poultry. Such was the foundation of Nish’s career, one which has spanned nearly three decades and a considerable range of cuisines.
He has been cooking in Singapore the last few years, at Prive and The Screening Room, but now he’s back in NYC and working on a new project. I asked him if he would come cook with me and catch up on our lives. Plus, I love a good excuse to learn from a master chef!
Learning from the Master!
It was more than a pleasure to cook with Wayne! It was mind blowing excitement to have him cooking with me in my home kitchen. He taught me so many little tips and tricks. I had never made fregola before, and he showed me how easy it is to cook this Italian grain.
We also slow-roasted salmon, which I’d never done before. The philosophy is that when you slow-roast a fatty fish like salmon, the collagen melts at the same rate that the protein transforms from raw to cooked. It comes out very tender and fully cooked through. Wayne called it sex in the mouth–and that’s just how pleasurable it was. You’ve got to try it!
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ¾ cup fregola
- 1 pound of clams and oysters
- 1 small onion, sliced into rounds
- 1 cup beer
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ pound spinach
- Chives and chervil for garnish
- Bring 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to a boil, then stir in 3/4 cups of fregola. Let it simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until done. Drain well and set aside in a bowl.
- In a med sized pot with a lid, place shellfish, sliced onion, beer, and bay leaf. Add the fregola to the pot.
- Let the seafood cook until the shells open (discard any that do not open).
- Steam spinach in the microwave for 2 minutes.
- Transfer the seafood and fregola to a bowl and garnish with the spinach, chives and chervil.
- Serve with warm bread to soak up the sauce.
*The original blog was called Flavors in Love. All material has been transferred and some has been edited for easier reading, and archiving.