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Chef's Table

Welcome to Marche aux Delices’ fun corner – where we delve into the inner lives (well, ok, maybe not that deep!) of chefs whose style and flavors we just love.   The fun of being in the mushroom business is getting to know how chefs create their recipes, and what extraordinary recipes they have in store for our mushrooms. 

For our first Guest Chef, we’re featuring Tom Colicchio, who has embraced the dilemma of “what do I do with this [morel, sea salt, bounty of seasonal ingredients]?” for home cooks like us.  His new book, Think Like a Chef (Clarkson Potter, NY) lays out an easily readable array of explanations about planning a menu, capitalizing on seasonal ingredients, and preparing such basics as vinaigrettes.  He devotes a lot of attention to mushrooms, which as you’ll note in our cookbook, The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook and Primer, made a big impression on me:  Tom was the first chef I watched preparing portobellos.  

As I made a delivery to Mondrian, one of his early chef stints in New York, I stopped to chat.  Tom and Thierry, my partner and husband, were newly bitten by the fly-fishing bug.  As Tom talked flies, rods, and other details that went totally over my head, I became mesmerized by what he was doing.   He first removed the black gills from portobello mushrooms, then stamped out perfect little rounds of mushroom for a garnish.  This is a lesson I’ll never forget: the gills of portobellos tend to blacken anything they are cooked in, such as a stew or sauce. 

Tom captivated the imagination and palates of so many diners last year, that he walked away with the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef--New York, 1999.

We caught up with Tom by e-mail with a few questions.  Here’s what he had to say.   But we recommend that you visit his restaurants  -- Gramercy Tavern and Craft --  for a taste of harmony and simplicity that makes him such an award-winning chef.


A thumbnail sketch of a chef who, ahem, likes wild and exotic mushrooms!

1)  1) Who and where are you?

 Tom Colicchio
 Chef/part-owner, Gramercy Tavern
 42 East 20th Street
 (212) 477-0777

 2) Cooking style (Asian,  French, free-form, forgeddaboutit)

  Contemporary American.

 3) Favorite off-night food (mac ‘n cheese, take-out?)

      Take-out Thai, on the couch, remote in hand.

 4)  Where do you find your special ingredients (market, work direct with farm, the usual suspects?)

      Union Square Greenmarket, Four Story Farm (veal, chicken,) Marche Aux Delices

 5)  What makes your restaurant different from the other guys on the block? (food, décor, my own animal magnetism…?)

      Our commitment to hospitality.  We try not to rest on our laurels.

 6)  Favorite off-duty pasttime (if you play with the kids, what games?  If you ski, which slopes?  If you veg in front of the TV, is it Hitchcock reruns or Blue Velvet?)

       Salt-water fly-fishing.  Spending time with my 7 year-old, Dante.  Playing guitar.

 7)  What color plate do you like for presenting food, esp. mushrooms?


 8)  So, and this is the $60,000 question (we’re on a budget, after all): what do mushrooms do for you- your palate, your menu, your soul?

       Mushrooms are a culinary microcosm of what I love about food:  The best ones are wild and they represent infinite possibility. Also, they bring back memories of my grandfather, who used to pick them for our dinner.

 9)  Any favorite wines to go with the dish you made for The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook and Primer (Seared Cod with Porcini a la Grecque, p. 175)?  

      Mushrooms have earth and body, so they can stand up to red wine.  I recommend a nice Burgundy, or a meaty Rhone, like a Cote-Rotie.

Get Fresh. Go Wild. 
Get fresh, wild mushrooms, overnight.

Marché Aux Delices
New York, NY 10028 

Phone888.547.5471 FAX413-604-2789