Some new dishes arrive on the scene with a flash--and fizzle just as quickly. But a few of our most brilliant chefs have created dishes that are so perfectly conceived that they have earned the right to be called classic. As these recipes get passed from chef to chef, from coast to coast, they bring profound satisfaction wherever they go. Who can imagine life without them?
A Chocolate "Accident"
Perhaps no other recipe in recent history has caught on as fast as barely baked, just-out-of-the-oven individual- size chocolate cakes, which under the slightest pressure from a fork, release a flow of melted chocolate. Credit for their invention goes to Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef and co-owner of restaurants around the world, including New York City's Jean Georges and Vong.
How did it happen? "In 1987, Pierre Schutz, now the chef at Vong in Manhattan, spent time working with Marc Meneau in France and brought back a recipe for an underbaked chocolate cake," Vongerichten recalls. "We started playing with it at Lafayette, where we both worked." At first, the chefs baked the cakes in tiny paper cups; they were moist but not runny because they were so small. "Three months after we started making them, a customer requested them for a party," Vongerichten says. "That's when we first made larger ones and discovered that the insides ran--everyone loved them."