Great Chefs Dinner

greatchefsdinner1Last Sunday was the annual Great Chefs Dinner benefiting the Hayground school in Bridgehampton.  Chef Eric Ripert was being honored at Toni Ross’s house in Wainscott.  I got the rare opportunity to be a prep chef for the day.  I made many observations that day; here are some…1) Chefs are incredibly Type A and organized so I fit in well 2) Chefs are hardcore 3) Toni Ross’s house is gorgeous 4) There’s an amazing camaraderie among chefs and 5) Cutting vegetables is serious business.

I’ll set the scene…a dinner honoring Eric Ripert, top chefs cooking a multiple course dinner, 110 influential guests, set in a beautiful home.  I helped chef Kerry Heffernan prepare his oysters 3 ways.  As a prep cook, I didn’t think cutting vegetables was a big deal.  Four hours later, it was a big deal.  I was tasked with cutting about 540 uniform slices of cucumbers.  At first, I didn’t really understand why there were so many ingredients in the oyster.  Oysters themselves are an amazing experience.  That was before I actually tasted the 3 oysters.  Each ingredient brought out nuances in the oyster that weren’t there alone.  The balance in each oyster was so exquisite that only a top chef could make such a creation.  I never thought sea beans, tomatoes, and verbena would go perfectly with an oyster.  Mind blown.

I have such a greater appreciation for chefs, sous chefs, and prep cooks.  To strive for perfection and commit to hours on end of work only to have your guests eat the food in less than 30 minutes, was amazing to watch.  I was so busy plating that I didn’t get a chance to fully appreciate that there were major foodies and chefs at the event.  My Hamptons idol, Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa was there as well as Tom Colicchio.  So my day as a prep cook brought on many realizations.  I have better knife skills than I thought.  I have a great appreciation for chefs and their craft and there’s a wonderful camaraderie among chefs.  It was so nice seeing every chef pitching in to help others.  I don’t think my future is in a restaurant but I have a new appreciation for the dish that arrives to my table.

greatchefsdinner2{Those were the 540 slices of cucumber that I cut being plated on the oysters}

greatchefsdinner3{Kerry Heffernan’s oysters 3 ways}

greatchefsdinner4{Chef Kerry Heffernan explaining the oysters to the waitstaff}

greatchefsdinner5{The dinner at Toni Ross’s house}

greatchefsdinner6{Helping Taku Sato from Nobu57 plate his dish}

greatchefsdinner7{The Barefoot Contessa}

greatchefsdinner8{The chefs | Photo by Philippe Cheng}

greatchefsdinner9{Chef Eric Ripert and Marc Murphy | Photo by Philippe Cheng}