Special Eater Miami correspondent and Michael's Genuine Food & Drink Brand Manager Jackie Sayet hit the road with the MGFD team for yet another stellar chef 'to do, this time at Jonathan Waxman's Barbuto in NYC. Here is her exclusive account. Sim·pa·ti·co adj \sim-?pä-ti-?k?, -?pa-\ 1: agreeable, likable 2: being on the same wavelength : congenial, sympathetic.
This genuine definition could not have rung more true in the Meatpacking District Monday night where Jonathan Waxman and Michael Schwartz, chefs with a shared approach to seasonal ingredient-inspired food, swapped team jerseys – literally – and put out a collaborative dinner celebrating their new cookbooks. The prix fixe meal included five courses, each with a pair of dishes from both cookbooks, MICHAEL'S GENUINE FOOD: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat and ITALIAN MY WAY: More Than 150 Simple and Inspired Recipes That Breathe New Life into Italian Classics.
Before the evening got underway, there was much catching up to be done in Barbuto’s basement kitchen. Schwartz arrived on a 6:00 a.m. flight out and was in-house a few hours later. As chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia and his back of the house staff banged out prep, Schwartz and Waxman supervised and shared kids’ summer plans, conspired to get the families together and cooking at MGFD Grand Cayman for the annual Cayman Cookout in January, and traded chicken stories.
Waxman loves the blue-footed Poulet de Bresse, and serves Bell & Evan’s for his legendary roasted chicken at the restaurant; while Schwartz prefers Poulet Rouge and described his visit to Joyce Farms in North Carolina where he was impressed by the calm and controlled kill procedure they have in place.
A quick break for lunch upstairs in the sunny, garage door embraced dining room, found Schwartz reuniting with a walk-in guest, straight from the set of Iron Chef America battling Bobby Flay with grass-fed beef – former employee at Nemo and Shoji in the late 90s, Joe Isidori. “The day I left [Michael] he said if you do one thing, never forget Nemo. And I never did. It’s where I found myself as a cook. He bought me my first cookbook, [Tom Colicchio’s] Think Like a Chef.” With peaches wrapped in MGFD house smoked bacon and Vidalia onions scooped and filled with lamb and apricots ready to hit the heat, it was time for the ‘team huddle.’
At 5:00 p.m., the chefs were joined by managers Jen Davidson and Lorien Wroten, and wine director Tim Farrell, to go through the special menu and the night’s service with both MGFD and Barbuto t-shirt-clad staff. It was a smooth and lively one, the main dining room electric with parties big and small like HarperCollins publisher Dan Halpern’s table including erstwhile Miami artist Jennifer Rubell and food writer and television contributor Francis Lam. Barbuto regulars and newlyweds, Kings of Leon rocker Caleb Followill and model Lily Aldridge, were in for lunch and had to come back for the dinner when they heard Schwartz was in the house of Obi Wan, recounting the story of how part of the band went to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami last September but the two had missed out – it was the night Followill proposed!
Chefs Ryan Hardy (formerly of The Little Nell in Aspen,) Joey Campanaro (The Little Owl, New York City,) and longtime friends Kerry Heffernan and his wife Grace Koo, were among the industry crowd represented. Judging from all the blue (Waxman) and black (Schwartz) Sharpies making the rounds, there’ll be lots of home cooking going on, spreading that good, simpacto feeling in apartments across the city. We are certainly ready for some more spoonfuls of amore, next time on Schwartz’s home turf. All that’s left is to set the date. [EaterWire]