Chef Daniel Humm on Creating a New Language for Eleven Madison Park
05.10.21

Fine dining aficionados may still be recovering from the latest news to make headlines in the food world last week. Three-star Michelin restaurant Eleven Madison Park announced it will go plant-based as of June 10. After reflecting on the past year, its award-winning chef Daniel Humm decided that he wanted his restaurant to move from being part of the problem to being part of a solution, and “apply his voice to something he really believed in.” EMP will not only be the latest restaurant to make commitments to sustainable gastronomy, but will also be the next three-Michelin starred plant-based restaurants second only to King’s Joy in Beijing.

By now, most of us may be familiar with the benefits of eating a plant-based diet: from reducing our environmental footprint to improving our health – but will Chef Humm be able to recreate the kinds of luxury dining experiences that his restaurant has traditionally been known and continue to be a source of innovation, disruption and inspiration for chefs worldwide?

Eleven Madison Park was my last fine dining experiences before leaving NYC for Miami five years ago. Stepping into this restaurant was like stepping into a parallel universe, were everything from the flowers, to the service, to the art was elevated to the level of sublime. Servers floated around the vaulted space as if on ice skates, while expressive pieces of abstract art hung on the walls, complementing the sensory experience of each course. Among some of the dishes that secured a spot in my memory bank was the beloved duck with daikon and plum,  peektoe crab folded into slivers of radishes, a dramatic baked Alaska flambéed tableside.

Following a conversation with Chef Humm on his podcast, Guy Raz moderated a panel on Clubhouse welcoming Chef Humm to the platform and opening up the stage for questions. It was exciting to learn about Chef Humm’s vision for the restaurant and some of his plans to redefine its menu, but taking the opportunity to “create a new language, a new cuisine.”

Chef Humm shared that he has been hard at work trying to identify some of the traits that make a meal unforgettable. “What is it that people love about meat?” he asked. Is it umami, that complex fifth savory “flavor” that abounds in soy sauce, tomatoes, anchovies, and mushrooms? Is it the texture in something fried? In studying umami, he has found that it is present in many types of fermented foods, including an array of fruits, vegetables and legumes, and continues trying to decipher how the different umami-rich foods can elevate each other.

If this sounds like geeky kitchen talk to you, it’s because it is. He will be experimenting with exciting new techniques to create entirely new ideas. An example is a “fried” course using a specific type of pepper that he is growing and filling with piperade, a Basque stew of cooked down tomatoes, peppers and onions flavored with the heat from espelette peppers. Deep frying it in tempura, he plans to serve it alongside lettuce, daikon radishes, swiss chard, topped with condiments and served like a taco. For desserts, he will make oils and butters from nuts and seeds, making different kinds of nut milks and yogurts, and thickening things with different starches.

To Humm, abstract art and the jazz legend Miles Davis are huge sources of inspiration. He drew parallels of what he is doing with Eleven Madison Park with Bitches Brew, the 1970 jazz album that disrupted the world of jazz music, incorporating electronic elements that at first were hard to understand, but ended up creating an entirely new genre of music

“This is sort of our Bitches Brew moment,” he said.

My New York Story
02.02.17

It’s been six months since I left New York City for Miami, Florida and like any important life change, it has taken time to dust off the shuffle of the move and settle into my new life. Some days it still feels like a dream. I look out the window and there’s so much light it hurts my eyes. The bougainvillea flowers and palm fronds flutter in the breeze, the sky a backdrop of soft blue. It’s a stark departure from the gray that pervaded my life during the previous 15 Februaries of my life. Energy now comes not from relentless activity wafting up and into my apartment window from the city buzzing below, but from a deliberate flow of life that naturally unfolds outside my front door.

more »

An Architect’s Cozy Corner in Chelsea, NYC
06.08.16

In this urban space, we can see touches of the Dominican Republic through moody, abstract local art, but the colors are darker than typical Dominican apartments. “We’re traditionally from there, but we’ve lived in New York for 15 years so this is home now.”

 

Expressionist work from a young contemporary Dominican artist and a small urn from Turkey

Expressionist work from a young contemporary Dominican artist and a small urn from Turkey

 

Jean Santelises’ Chelsea apartment is an unexpected departure from the color that abounds in his home country of the Dominican Republic, and yet it’s one that mixes with the drama and energy of New York, his adopted city buzzing below.

"I’m definitely a book lover. My dream home would have a huge library. In the meantime we have a little corner right next to the window where we have a collection of books that we’ve read and small travel pieces that we’ve purchased."

“I’m definitely a book lover. My dream home would have a huge library. In the meantime we have a little corner right next to the window where we have a collection of books that we’ve read and small travel pieces that we’ve purchased.”

 

An architect by trade, Santelises moved into his two-bedroom apartment with his husband in the heart of Chelsea four years ago. Contrary to many city apartments, his is filled with natural light that drifts in through wide windows in the living room and bedrooms. This advantage gave Santelises the chance to make a streamlined, yet bold decision when it came to color: he painted his walls a rich slate, which gives the space a cozy and sophisticated feel.

A small bookshelf is handy for entertaining and is topped by a Warhol photo.

A small bookshelf is handy for entertaining and is topped by a Warhol print.

more »

#FocusFridays: Dive In
05.31.16

Dive In 2

I can’t believe that week two is over. All I can say is that I feel so happy I started the #30DaysofFocus project. It has grounded me, given me the motivation that I needed, and the structure to jolt my creative self back to life. While before I used to aimlessly use up my energy, looking for stuff to keep me busy and fill my time, I feel like my days are now beautifully built around my writing time, which is as it should be; since it is, and hopefully will continue to be, one of my main sources of joy. It’s something that anchors my day, and even though there’s still a thousand things to do during the day, I’m becoming more efficient and versed at cutting corners and figuring out what really matters. It’s almost like I’m learning how to consciously do process with a capital P, and it’s literally rewiring my brain. more »

Happy Memorial Day: Peruvian Ceviche for The Tribe
05.26.16

Shellfish Ceviche

 

In New York, we seemed to have skipped spring altogether and been forced to dust off the cut-offs and tanks to survive the blistering temperatures. I’ve been counting on my neighborhood ice-cream trucks to keep me cool and definitely NOT complaining! So today I’m bringing back one of my favorite ceviche recipes perfect for a weekend that promises to be filled with sunshine and playtime.

Whether you’ll be at the beach, in a park, or staycationing at home, just remember to pop a little sparkling rosé and gather your friends around this cool, clean dish bursting with tender bits of shrimp, mussels, scallops, and baby clams. I serve this simple citrusy ceviche with chifles, plantain chips as they’re known in Peru, some crusty French bread, and avocado. Happy Summer!

more »

A Tale of Two Languages: Raising Bilinguals
05.25.16

Raising bilingual kids

I never knew bilingualism was a thing until I had a kid. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking country with visionary parents adamant about my sister and I speaking and writing in two languages always felt like the norm. And this was over 30 years ago. Now that bilingualism in the U.S. has become more ubiquitous with serious benefit-boasting scientific research to back it up, what things can we do as parents to optimize the experience?

Figure out the language strategy that works for you

For those parents who are thinking about raising their children in two languages, there are three main language policies to consider. One parent, one language is the one I’m using where one parent is consistently the one that speaks the language. Minority language at home means that the parents always speak the language whenever they’re with the kids. And there’s language time, a technique where the parent designates a particular amount of time for the language, setting expectations for the child, like 10 minutes a day and eventually working themselves up to days or even weeks at a time.  This one seems to come in particularly handy when you’re teaching two, three, even four languages like this multilingual Mom. more »

First Taste: Amada by José Andrés
05.24.16

Pimientos de Padron from Amada

I had stalked Amada for months. After all, croquetas, tortilla, and jamón serrano were a special part of my own food history, regular party fare for many a celebration back home in the D.R. They would round out a festive spread laid out for baptisms, quinceañera parties and weddings. Nostalgia aside, I saw the restaurant as a welcome addition to the Mexican, Southern, and Italian family-friendly havens in Battery Park City in NYC, the neighborhood I currently call my own.

It was around six thirty when G and I walked into Amada on our way to catch a movie. Amada, which means beloved in Spanish, is part of the Think Food Group, a collection of over 15 properties owned by José Andrés, the renowned Spanish-American chef who has been dominating the DC food scene for over 10 years. This is the third U.S. location of Amada and his first foray into the NYC restaurant scene as he warms up to open a New York concept restaurant this summer.   more »

#FocusFridays: On Process
05.20.16

On Process

As my first #30DaysofFocus week comes to a close, here are some major reflections.

Writing, which has been my focus tool, is very much like running (as Murakami suggested in his awesome memoir). It’s a question of sitting your butt down (lacing up those sneakers), and getting into the mind frame to move forward on your decision (do it until your goal time is up, whatever that is). At the beginning of the week, I blocked off two hours for writing each day. Some days it went on a little longer, other days a bit shorter, but every day was somewhat productive. This is something you already probably know, but blocking off your calendar really works.

It felt very liberating to know that I could write about anything that was on my mind or happening in my life at any particular moment. It didn’t have to necessarily be about food. Throughout the last seven years, I’ve always felt like if I wanted to blog about something, it had to be food-related. It is and continues to be a major passion and source of inspiration, but I realized how good it feels to be flexible, especially when it comes to writing. Getting out of your comfort zone is often the best place to find inspiration. more »

#TBT Margarita Recipe: Cheers to Friendship
05.19.16

The Perfect Margarita from Karina Taveras on Vimeo.

Just like a family recipe or a special perfume, a drink can take you to a place in time. For me, it’s the classic Margarita. The bright, zesty cocktail will always remind me of spring in upstate New York. It’ll bring back the Shawangunk Mountains jagged in the distance, and the clean invigorating air. The bright green pastures that pop neon to my city-stained eyes, the gentle sound of the creek nearby. Of the laughter and the good times, of the new friends and the old that always seem to get together around this time of year. To me, it’ll always remind me of my dear New York family.

To help you celebrate the power of friendship this weekend, here’s a #TBT recipe and video. Special thanks to my favorite Margarita-maker Cindy (and excuse the vertical shot) Cheers!

Simple Margarita Recipe

3 shots Tequila

1 shot Cointreau (orange liquor)

1 shot Rose’s Lime Juice

½ fresh lime

1 shot St. Germain (elderflower liquor)

Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker and pour into salt-rimmed ice-filled glasses

 

Cuba on My Mind
05.18.16

Cuba Festival's DanzAbierta

Image credit: DanzAbierta

The lights dimmed, the curtains parted. Six sinewy bodies crouched on stage carved by light, and glided towards what appeared to be small blue islands. They slid like honey across the floor, putting on fragments of ruffles – white skirts, arm bands, headdresses – ready to become somebody else.

DanzAbierta, a contemporary dance contemporary, debuting at the Joyce Theatre for its Cuba Festival, tells the story of a country at the crux of rapid transformation. During a short but heart-racing performance last night, they tore vigorously through the stage with raw, vibrant soul, and took my breath away.  more »

Let's Connect

Pages