There are normally three cooks behind the line with on expediting up front. At any given moment during the meal this time, there were a dozen to 25 chefs all packed into the compact space, helping out with cooking and plating.
Pre-meal kitchen staff meetings have taken place on the sidewalk outside Clio on Mass. Ave. ever since the very first service. This is probably the largest gathering ever.
The whole menu, posted with notes on allergies, flatware, and other logistical details.
Course 1: Caviar Bon Bons
A swirl of cocoa oil on the plate, topped with bon bons filled with a liquid wild orchid root puree, topped with a vinaigrette made from chive and garlic blossoms. The little white cubes pop in your mouth.
Alex Talbot Plating Sorrel Ice Cream
Alex Talbot scoops sorrel ice cream (frozen with liquid nitrogen) onto plates as bartender Todd Maul starts picking up finished plates for service.
Course 2: Sorrel Ice Cream
The tangy sorrel ice cream is served in a smoking bowl with chips of rhubarb glass, smoked trout roe, and a kasu curd (made from sake lees).
Todd MacDonald Pouring Gazpacho
Todd MacDonald of Villa Pacri in New York pours yellow tomato/watermelon gazpacho into bowls already garnished with peekytoe crab wrapped in avocado.
Course 3: Yellow Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho
Everybody lent a hand in forming the little avocado dumplings made from thinly shaved avocado carefully layered and wrapped around a peekytoe crab salad dressed with a citrus mayonnaise and reduced crab cooking liquor.
Tasting in the Kitchen
Alex Talbot, Todd MacDonald, Tony Maws, and John Critchley gather around to taste a sample plate of Alex Stupak's shrimp course.
Tony Maws and His Pasta
Tony Maws of Craigie on Main behind the line tossing just-cooked plankton-flavored conchiglie pasta with a shellfish stock (made with octopus, mussel, and clam liquor), butter, and sea urchin.
Plating Assembly Line
Sam Gelman of Momofuku and Ken Oringer head up the plating assembly line, adding garnishes, wiping plates, and passing it off to servers.
Course 4: Plankton Conchiglie Pasta
The egg-free pasta is made with dehydrated plankton from Brown Trading Company of Maine, then tossed with a shellfish broth, butter, and sea urchin, topped with house-cured guanciale.
Alex Stupak and Lauren Resler Prepping
Alex Stupak of Empellón watches as his wife/partner/pastry chef Lauren Resler fills pastry bags with sea urchin butter for their course.
Stupak lays lettuce leaves out on top of the poached shrimp and masa chips filled with sea urchin butter.
The final touch is a spritz of lime juice from an atomizer.
Course 5: Ruby Red Shrimp
Poached shrimp nestled on top of masa chips willed with uni butter, garnished with cilantro, white onion, radishes, a tomatillo-chipotle salsa, and queso fresco.
Yes, the kitchen crew got to taste every course.
Jason Hua and Andres Grundy
Jason Hua of The Dutch portions king crab and surf clam into individual soup bowls for the next course.
Course 6: "Ode to the Cassolette"
Ken Oringer's Sea Urchin and Lobster Cassolette has been a staple of the Clio menu for years. Here, Sam Gelman of Momofuku serves his own take: king crab and surf clam gently steamed, the cooking liquor reduced down and used as the base for a rich beurre monté seasoned with an intense Thai-style chili jam. Calamansi lime juice, Korean chili, and chives finish it off.
Course 7: Hearts of Palm
Phillip Kirshen Clark of Demi Monde in New York serves his course: seared hearts of palm with artichokes, bottarga, green almonds, and pickled white anchovies. It's a lot of different flavors that come together nicely on the plate.
Course 8: Salsify Porridge
A sleeper hit, John Paul Carmona (former Chef de Cuisine of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA) serves his salsify and sea lettuce "porridge" with tiny orbs of pickled cucumber, a chicken jus, and crunchy grains of farro flavored with seaweed.
Chris Chung Making Final Adjustments
Chris Chung (the man who taught me everything I know about sushi and sashimi), makes final adjustments on his abalone salad.
Course 9: Abalone Sunomo
A chilled salad of abalone and mushrooms rests on top of a disk of tender house-made tofu and a chilled sukiyaki broth-based jelly.
John Critchley Plating Course 10
John Paul Carmona (left) helps out John Critchley (center) as he plates the kumquat kosho—a spicy preserved citrus and pepper paste traditionally made with yuzu in Japan—for his dish.
Course 10: Island Creek Oyster Stew
The croquette is filled with black roux scented with lemongrass, kaffir, and other Thai flavors and a whole Island Creek Oyster. The broth looks heavy, but it's actually quite bright with an intense citrus-coconut flavor. The kumquat kosho dissolves in the broth, adding its bitter-hot flavor.
David Varley Making Sandwiches
A disk of chartreuse-cured foie gras is sandwiched between two tuiles and served with a variety of garnishes.
Course 11: Foie Gras Torchon Sandwich
On the plate is pickled green strawberries, ripe strawberries, pistachio puree, and a chartreuse fluid gel, along with a variety of herbs. This is what plating for 100 people at a time looks like.
Course 12: Black Bass
Jason Hua of The Dutch in New York served black bass gently cooked in the C-Vap oven sitting on top of a block of rice painted with miso and crisped up on one side with a light broth made with seafood, chicken feet, and mushrooms. I could drink bowls of that broth.
Andres Grundy, Chris Gould, and Douglass Rodriguez Plating Course 13
Andres Grundy picks up chunks of glazed roasted veal breast to set up a demo plate for Uni chef Chris Gould and Chef de Cuisine Douglas Rodrigues to follow him on.
Course 13: Veal Breast and Sweetbreads
The final savory course is served with braised fava beans, a fava bean crumble, and a nasturtium blossom purée.
Ken Oringer Plating Mango Sticky Rice
Alex Stupak watches on as Ken Oringer plates the first of two desserts.
Course 14: Mango Sticky Rice
Sticky rice, coconut milk, and a mango custard.
Renae Herzog Dropping Cherries
Renae Herzog of New York's Marea lays out garnish for her final dessert course.
Course 15: Bomba di Ciliegia
Malt cream encapsulated inside a chocolate shell comes served with poached cherries, cherry purée, a birch foam, cocoa nib glass, and a quenelle of amaro gelato.
The chefs celebrate a meal well-done with a few cases of ice cold PBR tall-boys (the champagne came later).