Last Thursday, for the second straight year, McCrady’s hosted the Grand Gelinaz Shuffle, a world-wide event where chefs from some of the world’s best restaurants swap locations for a night.
Last year, McCrady's attendees were graced with Chef Paul Cunningham from Denmark’s Henne Kirkeby Kro. Cunningham converted McCrady’s into a completely different feel blasting a playlist of classic rock metal and punk, had the servers in T-shirts, and generally lightened up the usually formal feel of the place. The food did not disappoint with Cunningham taking inspiration from Brock’s cookbook Heritage,
creating his take on Southern fare. It was a highlight of year for many including this writer.
And just like before, with last week's dinner, the names of the visiting chefs were not made public until the time of the meal. While Sean Brock was serving dinner in Moscow, we were waiting to discover our guest chef at the new McCrady's.
After a glass (or three) of champagne, diners were lead from McCrady’s Tavern into McCrady’s, handed a pisco sour (should have been a hint), and escorted to their assigned seats. With a little showmanship, the lights were darkened and Rodolfo Guzman from Boragó in Santiago, Chile entered. The lights came up and he cracked a few jokes setting the tone for the night. While the incredibly detailed and professional service at the new McCrady’s doesn’t have a casual feel, the frenetic pace and humorous descriptions from Guzman lightened up the room.
Food throughout the night consisted of foraged ingredients like wild fennel, sea beans, “sand plants,” and seaweed. Highlights were “Tarte-Tatin of Stone Crab and Flowers” —incredibly tender pieces of stone crab with dried marigold flowers and a whey broth, and the “Creamy of sea beans and some coast plants." The shockingly green dish included sea beans cooked like risotto and flavored with wild fennel. Like every course it shined with fresh clean flavor.
The showiest course of the night was the “Lamb Cooked Like in Patagonia But In La Inverse and Crudo of the Mother.” The name alone was a mouthful. After a display of the whole animal, Guzman gave a brief description of the cooking technique which involved leaning the lamb over an open fire, breaking down the animal, and searing it over a yakitori grill. The lamb was served next to a crudo of fall squash and what I can only guess from the description was vinegar, titled “mother.” The dish had a nice contrast of fatty smoky lamb, tart vinegar, and sweetness from the crudo.
The final dish was a porcini mushroom ice cream served on a branch with flowers. It may sound odd, but I’ll just say this, umami ice cream works.