One of the French Culinary Institute's most well known alums (and definitely the most popular in New York at the moment) is David Chang. His three restaurants (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar and Ko) and a recently open dessert shop are all food writers can seem to talk about these days. They rave about the Asian dishes delivered with French sensibilities and techniques coming out of Chang's kitchen at (relatively) affordable prices.
Last night a friend visiting from Texas and I decided to try out Ssam Bar.
For my friend it was culinary bliss; she could never eat as well in Houston on most days. For me, I was more intrigued by the menu as we noshed on oysters with a kimchi consomme, fried Brussels sprouts (with mint, scallions and a fish sauce vinaigrette), poached cod and of course, Chang's popular steam buns (full of slabs of pork belly).
I dissected the dishes with what I've learned so far in three months of culinary school. The scallions were perfectly julienned, the consomme was obviously clarified a few times over and the French techniques the FCI emphasizes were on obvious display.
It made me wonder: how far am I from being prepared to work in a professional kitchen? Some days it seems completely plausible and on others, I wonder if I want to be on my feet for 12 hours a day in a cramped kitchen.
But sitting on our high top stools in Ssam Bar at 1 a.m. on a Saturday with a packed restaurant overlooking the East Village crowds, I knew the guests enjoyed the food and dining experience. It's just another reason I love food.