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Chef Way, Real Way

Some restaurant food is impossible to reproduce at home: It's just too complicated. Here, we streamlined the ingredient lists and simplified the techniques of three star chefs--Alfred Portale, Wayne Nish and Laurent Tourondel--to create eight easy dishes that evoke the delicious flavors of the originals.

Chef Way: Architectural Food
In 1984, chef Alfred Portale opened Gotham Bar & Grill in New York City and floored the culinary world with his towering architectural dishes. Here, his 8-inch-tall salad, called Leeks Vinaigrette with Fingerling Potatoes, Quail Eggs and Micro Greens in a Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette, is composed of perfectly uniform-size leeks meticulously stacked like Lincoln Logs. Frilly greens like frisée piled on top of the leeks make this tall salad even loftier.

Real Way: Rough-and-Tumble Style
To transform Portale’s recipe into our Roasted Leek and Potato Salad, we chopped the vegetables into uneven pieces and tossed them with baby greens. No stacking required. (For two more low-rise versions of Portale’s sky-high dishes, see the Grilled Salmon with Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes and the Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Avocado.)

Chef Way: Exotic Ingredients
Chefs love ingredients that are esoteric or from very small producers. Wayne Nish of March in New York City, for instance, serves a dish he calls Four Story Hill Farm Chicken with Confit of Shallots, Iranian Barberries and Clove in Hard Pear Cider. Finding the ingredients isn’t the only tricky part: Nish prepares them using four different cooking techniques.

Real Way: Supermarket Staples
Our Roast Chicken with Shallots and Dried Cranberries replaces obscure ingredients with widely available ones—dried cranberries for Iranian barberries, say. (Another accessible version of a Wayne Nish recipe—Lamb Chops with Vegetable Ragout.)

Chef Way: The Layered Look
Haute restaurant desserts can be maddeningly labor-intensive: They often have several components, each requiring elaborate preparation. Consider the extraordinary layering in this stunning Rice Crispy and Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream "Sandwich" with Warm Condensed Milk Cappuccino, from Laurent Tourondel of Manhattan’s Cello.

Real Way: Back to Basics
One component of Tourondel’s ice cream sandwich—the layer of crunch—is sensational with store-bought ice cream and chocolate sauce, as our Vanilla Sundaes with Crisped Rice-and-Peanut Crunch prove. (Our Shrimp and Goat Cheese Risotto and Spaghetti with Scallops, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives, also simplify Tourondel’s style.)

Published September 2002
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