Meet Ben Puchowitz, Executive Chef of Matyson, who recently won Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly: Tasting Menu”. When Ben’s not creating a new themed tasting each week, he enjoys listening to Jazz music, drinking ice cold Budweiser and eating all types of Asian Noodles. Ben is a very likable guy. But to some, he’s considered the enemy. With the recent California Ban on Foie Gras, Philadelphia chefs showed their support for the use of Foie Gras by holding events around the city. The month leading up to the ban Philadelphia held #FoieFridays. This was the brainchild of Kevin McKenzie and Chef Jason Cichonski of Ela, where participants offered a special Foie Gras dish for $10.
Ben, who is a staunch supporter for the use of foie, always has it on the menu. He presented an amazing Foie Gras tasting menu for a week at Matyson as the California ban drew near.
TGIFoieday was a class at COOK where Ben showcased the versatility of Foie Gras and would answer any questions people had on this misunderstood ingredient.
Menu for TGIFoieday
Trimming the Foie Gras
Foie Gras is French for Fat Liver. Sourced usually from duck or goose, the controversy centers on how the animals are fed in order to have the liver fattened. Ben showed us how Foie Gras is cleaned and trimmed by removing blood vessels and splitting the lobes of the liver.
Plating the Amuse Bouche
Garnishing the Amuse Bouche
Amuse: Whipped Foie Gras, Muffin Bottom, Blueberries, Corn Nuts
Where Elaine on Seinfeld had to call in the Cleaner to get rid of all her muffin bottoms, Ben decided they would be best used for an Amuse Bouche.
Ingredients for Earthiness
Guanciale (Pork Jowl Bacon) in the pan
Snails in the pan
Earthiness: Foie Gras Ravioli, Snails, Guanciale, Morels, Black Truffle
This dish played on how the earthy flavors of Morels, Black Truffles and Snails complement the Foie Gras Ravioli. The snails were wild Burgundy Snails from Snailman Douglas Dussault.
Sour Cherries on Pickled Mustard Seeds
Foie Gras + Duck Sausage
Acidity: Foie Gras + Duck Sausage, Sour Cherries, Farro, Pickled Mustard Seeds
The acidity from the sour cherry and pickled mustard seeds help cut the richness of the Foie Gras and Duck Sausage.
Searing Foie Gras
Versatility: Seared Foie Gras, Sea Scallop, Asparagus, Peaches, Miso Jus
The list of ingredients sounds like something you might see on Chopped. Maybe this was Ben’s take at a Surf and Turf using scallops and foie. Asparagus and peaches brought together with a Miso Jus? It seemed like an odd mishmash of ingredients but the dish worked and in the end truly highlighted the theme of the night’s dinner, which was to showcase the versatility of foie gras.
Foie Gras Creme Brulee in an egg shell on a bed of salt
Topped with Coffee, Pistachios and shaved Foie Gras
Sweet: Foie Gras Creme Brulee, Coffee, Pistachio, Shaved Foie Gras
Ben’s first dessert he ever created was for COOK’s Open Stove: Chef Smackdown. This was that dessert – my personal favorite. The only complaint I had was that they weren’t made in an Ostrich Egg. This dish played on the creamy richness of Foie Gras and added texture and sweetness from the Brulee.
A friend of mine recently went on a trip and gifted me with this amazing treat. What better place to share this gift than at COOK for TGIFoieday!
Ben will be back at COOK next month with two seatings of his ever popular Cheu Noodle Pop up. If you missed out on purchasing tickets you can find him and a whole host of chefs next month at Feastival. You can even purchase your tickets for for Feastival from the COOK website right here!
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