Ever daydream about what it would be like to sneak into the kitchen of one of Manhattan’s top restaurants? Lisa Mamounas, the very social dynamo and president of Culinary Insiders, created a very fun event where twenty people (the size that could fit into the Gramercy Tavern’s gorgeous private dining room) could meet executive chef Michael Anthony and learn how dishes are conceived, prepared, and plated.
The afternoon lunch began with guests gathering inside the private dining room with its elegant fabrics, mirrors, and old-world appeal, for sparkling Lambrusco Reggiano Medici Solo (2005, from the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy) and passed hors d’oeurves. Savvy networkers (and who isn’t in Manhattan?) had no problem strutting up to fellow participants and striking up conversations. As the French say, “You are united by virtue of being under one roof.”
After about a half-hour, Lisa introduced chef Anthony, who told us about his history with the restaurant and his “fresh first” philosophy about food. We visited the exclusive dining room (outside the main bar room, which takes no reservations and is prix fix) and listened to how chef Anthony and his culinary team find fresh produce in the nearby green market in Union Square. Then our group was invited into the kitchen were we could see sous chefs plating and preparing dishes for the crowd enjoying lunch in the bar room.
Our own lunch began with tuna and beet tartare, accented with radish and hazelnuts, that was served with Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne (2005, from Burgundy France). Next we had braised short rib of beef, served with Tuscan bean puree, Brussels sprounts, and black olive. This was paired with Chateau Gasparde, 2001, Cotes de Castillon France. Lunch concluded with a gorgeous and playful presentation of Chocolate peanut butter crunch cake, which was served with a very adorable glass of frozen milk (ice cream).
This is a fun restaurant that serves lunch throughout the afternoon, perfect for those weekend days when you get around to thinking about lunch after three. Culinary Insiders is a fun way to experience the best cuisine the city has to offer.
42 E. 20th St
New York, NY 10003