My garden goods + his culinary talent= the creation of something super special! This collaboration all began with, Instagram.
Chef Ari Warsaw’s food photos on his page are…incredible. I had come across them a few times. Each time they caught my attention; the composition, the colors, the descriptions…they hooked me. I had never seen anything like his food. I first came across his photos on the Instagram page of “pictures from people you follow that have liked other photos.” Then a few days later I came across another one and I remembered having checked out his stuff previously. So, I started following him which led to an exchange of comments. I saw that he lived in Charleston from his page and inquired as to where he worked. He told me that he didn’t work at a restaurant and mostly cooked for family and friends, as well as some private chef cooking. This mostly involved intimate dinner parties and personal cooking in clients homes. I was super bummed and I think my response was: “thats too bad-your food is beautiful and I would drop everything I’m doing to come and eat at your restaurant.” He replied by thanking me for my compliment and said that I had a good looking garden and that we should do some collaborative work sometime. A few weeks later-and that is exactly what we are doing! We met over coffee and discussed the logistics of how to make this happen, a few days later he came over to my garden-did an assessment of what I was currently growing (which July in the south, can be brutal). The garden is producing about half of what it was doing a few weeks ago, but he said he could work with what was out there… 24 hours later he came back and is now cooking up some magic in my kitchen as I am writing this article. He arrived with his equipment, shared with me what he was planning on making, and set to it…
DISH 1: Unripe tomatoes cooked in mussel stock with their flowers and baby barley
Watching him compose the arrangement of everything on the plate is like watching a painter make the final touches on a masterpiece. It is truly MAGICAL. He is not only a chef, but an artist as well. I took a few snapshots and then…the first bite. WOW! It was delicious. Completely untraditional, the flavors were unexpected and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT! The unripened cherry tomatoes were unlike anything I’ve had before…it was slightly tart (in a good way) and not bitter, mixed with the slight saltiness of the barley and the fragrance of the flowers…completely unique and I felt honored eating this work of art and culinary perfection.
DISH 2: Kale (poached in butter) with cod, sea buckthorn, with green strawberry juice and parsley oil.
This was my favorite dish! I was in the other room (doing food blog work) when I smelled the most amazing aroma dancing its way into the living room and luring me into the kitchen to peer over Chef Warsaw’s shoulder and see what was going on. I didn’t want to get in the way (especially as I have a small kitchen) but I needed to see what was happening. Culinary magic…thats what was happening. He delicately folded the cod into the kale leaves and dusted the dish with a final touch of the sea buckthorn spice (which added the most beautiful color to the plate). Each bite melted in my mouth. The perfect mix of flavor, texture, and most importantly…I wanted more!
DISH 3: Smooth kelp ice cream, rhubarb, and herbs from the garden (dill, thyme, cilantro, basil, lavender).
I’ve never had anything like this before. My first reaction was simply: “Damn…thats amazing.” I can’t even describe how insanely good the combination of all these herbs were with the super soft ice cream and delicious zip of the chewy rhubarb. The rhubarb for me was the unexpected star of this dish. Originally the rhubarb was dehydrated, then rehydrated with beet juice…it was chewy, not bitter, and super tasty!
The thing about his pictures, which is absolutely true of his cooking in action, is his personal goal to create dishes that blend unique ingredients into a new wholeness and oneness in the finished dish. During an era of culinary deconstruction and separateness he takes all these ingredients that are interesting and flavorful, have different textures, and puts them all together and creates something that is whole within its new self.
This was a super special, tasty, and amazing experience. I think part of what made this experience so awesome was watching him put his genuine heart and soul into his cooking. Being around him is calming, intriguing, and had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation to see what he was about to create! His personal philosophies about food had me rethinking what eating, cooking, and enjoying food were all about. He explained that the description of “good” when discussing food is subjective. That it depends on the motivation of the chef and what they are creating, as well as the motivation of the person who is consuming the meal…to determine what “good” really means. All I know is that I saw his pictures, and knew I had to try to his food, it beckoned me…and good doesn’t begin to describe, how amazing it was! Getting the chance to eat his food was a treat, but listening to him describe his personal beliefs about how art and food imitate life and discovering uncharted territories while creating new things-it was all so very, very inspiring. The collaboration of my gardening and Chef Warsaw’s culinary skills began as experiment and finished with a newly begun friendship and a new found appreciation (on my part) for food in a way that I had never experienced. That’s one of the things that I love about food-that it can take you somewhere, you never even knew existed.
To experience Chef Ari Warsaw’s talents and hire him for cooking for you, your family and friends, email him at: [email protected] or check out his website at: musicalcuisine.com or check out his Instagram at: @ariwarsaw