Video Produced By Vanessa C. Rodriguez
In this “On Foodable Side Dish,” correspondent Agnes Chung spends the morning with Chef de Cuisine Cedric Vongerichten, learning about his background, the importance he places on seasonality, and finally, his signature dishes for Perry St, his father’s, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, elegant restaurant in West Village, located in the Richard Meier Towers in New York City.
Background and Inspiration
Each week, Chef Vongerichten draws his inspiration from the freshest ingredients available in the farmer’s market. This extra time spent researching and properly sourcing the organic and GMO-free ingredients can be expensive on the restaurant, however, Vongerichten says, “...in the long run, I think prices are going to drop and that [seasonal ingredients] is what people are going to ask for, anyway.”
Experiences abroad have also played an important role in Vongerichten’s professional life and his palate, elevating his knowledge and exposing him to different flavor combinations and cooking techniques that serve as inspiration on a day-to-day basis.
At the early age of 17, Vongerichten began his career as a chef at a restaurant in the Bahamas. He then worked at London’s Berkeley Hotel, Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental, and El Bulli in Barcelona. Later, after graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, he worked through the ranks at several Jean Georges Restaurants. Previous to working at Perry St, he was the sous chef at Jean Georges.
“It was definitely challenging at the beginning, you know, it’s very different from being sous chef to chef. You don’t realize until you are put in that position,” said Vongerichten. After six years of building and grooming his team and menu slowly, he can finally call Perry St’s menu his own.
For Vongerichten, it comes naturally to meld French, American, and Asian cultures into his food. He has a couple favorite dishes of his own, like the Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna with Sriracha sauce, that have been at Perry St since day one. Another dish he loves is the Butter Poached Lobster.
“I was born in Thailand, and this is a French version/Thai combo on a plate. French technique and Thai flavors, like lemongrass and kaffir lime. That’s another favorite of mine and people love it, as well,” he said.
In this episode, Vongerichten shows us how to make Perry St’s heirloom tomato salad and a slow-cooked salmon with market spring vegetables.
He explains, “Heirloom means coming from different gardens, coming from different farmers, different flavors, different sweetness, and almost different texture, also.”
The tomatoes are stacked on top of each other in a horizontal row before they are seasoned with olive oil and salt. Then, he likes to add avocado slices to add a layer of creaminess to the dish. The salad is topped off with 12-year-old balsamic vinegar for a sweeter taste, spring onions, green serrano peppers for a little kick, and sesame seeds. For the finishing touches, add purple and bush basil leaves along with a couple of edible flowers for a spring feeling.
As for the second dish, Vongerichten slow-cooked the salmon in olive oil and kosher salt at 275-300 degrees fahrenheit in a conventional oven for 10-12 minutes. While that was cooking, he took care of the vegetables by cutting the pencil asparagus, broccoli, sugar snap and heirloom snow peas, and cooking them in boiling water for one minute. Vongerichten had already prepared a pea purée, which he layered over the cooked salmon. Then, he placed all the cooked vegetables on top of the purée, along with some almonds and nasturtium edible flowers, which give the dish a peppery taste.
Watch the full episode to learn more!