For Dux Series 2, I wanted to create a tribute to summer produce in a cerebral but identifiable way. I first began the thought process by identifying a set of summer vegetables/fruits that were the most prominent in my recollection of what it meant to enjoy summer. This inevitably led me to focus into five different types of produce, which included: stone fruit, tomato, corn, figs and exotic/non-local summer seasonal.
Of course, just picking a grocery list of ingredients does not make a good menu, so it was my intention to bring them to life in a way that resonated them with the diner. As I started to play with different concepts and toy with different techniques, I realized that the dishes lacked a sense of linearity between courses. While I had started coming up with a good set of ideas, there wasn’t a sense of cohesion through the courses – which is an issue because a big part of the mission of Dux is to exhibit a thematic idea that translates throughout the menu.
In that instance, I was concurrently reading a lot of passages including some from the Momofuku book, Herve This/Pierre Gagnaire’s book named Cooking, NOMA restaurant book and a couple of kaiseki based Japanese cookbooks. With my reading, I realized that many of the dishes, while technically sound (at least in my mind), did not seem to relate to each other in terms of storytelling. With that, the basic ideas of familiarity, recognition, relativity and storytelling immediately became the focal point for how I would change my approach to this menu.
The name of this dinner series is relatively cheesy I would say. Summer Landscapes? It really isn’t meant to be a pretentious (then again, nobody knows when they’re being pretentious either, huh), but rather, each dish is a digression on a set of specific summer memories and relationships that I have had in my life with this food. And with each dish, there is a specific vision or memory attached with a warm association of how I remember those flavors.
The menu has since then been crafted to resonate some of the following ideas:
“It isn’t enough to place your fingers on the piano: one must start out with a song in mind.”
– Pierre Gagnaire
“Advances in scientific studies are made by constant reference to, and calibration against, prior thoughts and traditions.”
- Kirill Illyich Zamaraev
Thank you for reading this madness and I invite you to please join us Sunday nights at Dux.