Not a foodie here, but I admire those who create glorious cuisine and dining experiences in their kitchens. Naom Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers, do just that by sharing how to craft exciting culinary encounters in their new book, Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen.
Get ready for your taste buds to do the happy dance as you preview their book and feast your eyes on gorgeous dishes. Then meet the authors and read an interview with Noam, owner of Michelin-starred HiR Fine Dining, a one-of-a-kind culinary experience set in the intimacy of his kitchen in the Costa Rican jungle. Within 6 months of opening, one of Noam's plates was selected out of 40,000 restaurants by OpenTable as one of their recommended "25 dishes to travel around the world for."
You can also enter a giveaway for a chance to win a grand prize - four seats at Noam’s HiR Fine Dining (a $580 value) - or one of 20 paperback or ebook copies of Accessible Fine Dining. Giveaway ends 7 February. Scroll to the end of this post for details and entry. Good luck and happy tales!
" If you want to create fine dining dishes,
start to focus your attention on the different stories a dish can tell.
Some stories can be told through your cooking ...."
~ Noam Kostucki
Book Title: Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen by Noam Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers
Category: Adult Non-fiction , 128 pages
Genre: Creative Cookbook / Fine Dining
Release date: Dec 10, 2018
Tour dates: Jan 7 to 31, 2019
Content Rating: G
Six months after opening my first restaurant, one of my dishes was selected as "25 dishes to travel around the world", featuring me next to culinary legend Heston Blumenthal.
Exciting and healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Over the years, I have seen some of the most exciting dishes come from the simplest kitchens and the most modest ingredients. The purpose of this book is to focus our attention away from the distractions of fancy kitchen equipment and luxury produce and instead focus our attention towards ingenuity in the kitchen and culinary innovation.
For some strange reason, cooking is taught in books as a series of mechanical steps to follow and repeat with precision. I see cooking as a creative art like painting or playing music: it is the freedom of expression that is most interesting to me. When we create from an artistic perspective, we give birth to something new and potentially magical.
The purpose of this book is not to teach you specific recipes, because the ingredients you will find in your local organic food market will likely not be the same as the ones we see here. Nor is the purpose to show you how to imitate us. The purpose of this book is to guide you into thinking about your dishes in a way that elevates them to a fine dining level, from ingredients which are easily accessible to you. Naturally, you will find a few recipes, but most importantly you will find a new way to look at food.
We will share how we think about food shopping, searching for unusual ingredients, the combinations of flavors, techniques, textures, nutritional value, and of course, plating. The purpose of this book is to guide you to become a more exciting, creative and adventurous version of yourself in the kitchen. What separates a craft from an art form is the story behind it; cooking is a craft, while fine dining is an art form.
If you want to create fine dining dishes, start to focus your attention on the different stories a dish can tell. Some stories can be told through your cooking, and others are told through words. Taking the time to present your dishes before people eat is crucial to creating anticipation for the food they will eat.
Buy the Book:
Watch the book trailer:
Meet the Authors:
MY NAME IS NOAM KOSTUCKI AND I CREATE SPACES FOR MAGIC TO HAPPEN.
I was an awkward child, so I changed school 5 times. I spent most of my life trying to please others, and be the kind of person I believed everyone else wanted me to be. I wasn't happy and I struggled to get what I want. Everything changed when I started changing.
I spent the last 12 years creating the life I dream of. I've had the privilege to be homeless twice, and to speak at Harvard about entrepreneurship. I have grown to be myself more fearlessly than ever before. I am now surrounded by people I love, and who love me.
I traveled over 40 countries, and I've helped over 25,000 people create magic. For example Patryk Wezowski who raised $500,000 in 8 weeks and Esther Perel who gave the 30th most viewed TED talk. Some less public successes include a blind eyed student who experienced his blind eye for the first time and a journalist who left an abusive relationship.
As a university drop out, I was surprised when my first book (personal branding) became required reading at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, as well as receiving the UK Business Speaker of the Year runner up award, and a honorary degree in Business from Hofstra University. As an artist, I was honored to exhibit my photography at the European Union's Innovation Conference.
My most recent venture is HiR Fine Dining, a jungle culinary adventure. I create a discovery menu of 7 plates per person for groups of up to 12 people. HiR Fine Dining became #1 fine dining on TripAdvisor in Tamarindo within the first month. Within 6 months one of my plates was selected out of 40,000 restaurants by OpenTable as one of "25 dishes to travel around the world for". I was invited to speak at Chateau 1525, Costa Rica's most reputable cooking school and our guest chefs include a blind chef who traveled all the way the United Kingdom.
Quentin has been cooking in restaurant since the age of 18. He helped his brother build a restaurant for which they received a Michelin Star. Quentin moved to Costa Rica to consult for hotels and restaurants. He managed 3 of the 4 restaurants at Hotel Nayara in La Fortuna, for which he lead a team of over 20 people to be selected to enter Relais & Chateaux, a prestigious network of unique luxury hotels with exquisite cuisine. Quentin is a regular guest chef at HiR Fine Dining and consults for a number of fine dining restaurants in Costa Rica.
Interview with Noam Kostucki
How do you come up with new dishes?
To be honest, I don’t have a specific method. Something I notice from other chefs is that most chefs I’ve met seem to love cooking for others. They often don’t actually eat in their own restaurants. But for me it’s the opposite. I love eating great food, so I cook for myself combinations I’ve never had before because I love eating food that surprise me. Then when I discover something cool, I share it with guests… and I look forward to eating the leftovers. The day I get bored of the leftovers, I change the dish because it means my heart and guts are not into it anymore. I can only cook food that gets me excited and wanting to eat the dish I’m plating.
I mostly come up with dishes by cooking for myself. I use what I have and mix things in ways that I don’t know how it will taste. I’m very content with the idea of not knowing how my food will turn out. At first, it often tasted terrible, but after a few years of practice, I became fairly good and it’s generally at least OK. Now that Nadia lives with me (my life and business partner), we have fun cooking for ourselves and when we’re both impressed by our creation, we find ways to elevate it for guests. We test it with clients and ask them for direct feedback. We explain to them that cooking is a dialogue between us and them. They help us make dishes better by telling us what they really think. They are excited to be part of the creation process. So I’ve learned to ask at the end of every dinner for feedback and thoughts on dishes. That’s how we decide what needs to be changed and what stays.
What is your jungle culinary adventure?
The jungle culinary adventure is a 3-hour, seven-course menu at my home in Costa Rica. These dinners are very private and intimate as we serve a maximum of twelve guests per night, and the kitchen neighbors the table so that we can interact with guests as they eat. During dinners, we’ve been visited by monkeys, cows, dogs, cats, frogs, scorpions and many others. It’s quite amazing to be sitting in the middle of the jungle by a wooden table and eat food that feels like it comes out of a Michelin star restaurant. I like the idea of integrating luxury fine dining with a rustic familiar environment.
Fine dining is normally associated with luxury, how do your guests react to the “rustic” and “natural” environment?
At first, people are often a bit tensed. You can read the concern on their faces: especially because they’ve had to pay in advance, at first, they wonder if it’s a scam. They can’t believe that the photos of exquisite dishes they’ve seen online come from this rustic natural environment. Seeing me barefoot with my beard and long hair doesn’t help their worries: you can see guest wonder where is the fine dining chef. When they receive their first dish, then you see people relax and their shoulders come down. They take their phones out and grab photos while listening to the description of the dish. Once they’ve finished their first dish, they’re completely at ease and start to fully enjoy the atmosphere. They then make the most of the fact that it’s such a casual atmosphere and we have lovely conversations while they’re eating dinner. At the end of dinners, people often comment on their initial fears and how their expectations when highly exceeded.
What was the toughest moment of your fine dining experience?
The most stressful was the first few months because I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Every cooking day felt like a war with time. I would start cooking at 6am and work non-stop until after guests left around 8.30pm. It was insane. I was doing everything alone so I had nobody to bounce ideas with or to taste the food. I had to assume what I was doing was going to be good enough. I would buy way too much food because I was scared of not having enough. Service was also crazy at the beginning because I didn’t realize how much I could prepare in advance. My first few dinners used to last up to 5h. From working with Quentin Villers, the Michelin star chef who mentored me, I learned how to prepare more things in advance and have better methods for cooking while serving guests. Serving new dishes was so mortifying that at the beginning I would only serve new dishes as extras and warn people they may not be good because they’re still in “Research & Development.”
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