You would expect Grant Achatz's macaroni and cheese to have some chef tricks, but it doesn't. He uses a white sauce, elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese, just like the rest of us. His personal touch: a tablespoon of paprika (to enhance the color of the sauce) and lots of smoky, crisp bacon bits.
At tiny Frasca Food and Wine, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) is famous for his Friulian food. When Frasca moves to a bigger space later this year, he'll open a casual café serving dishes like chopped salads made with greens grown on the roof.
Before grilling these small hens, Jonathan Benno butterflies them, cutting out the backbones with kitchen scissors or a sturdy knife so they can be flattened. "It's the best way to cook a bird all the way on a grill," he says. "You get those nice grill marks, and by the time the chicken's got good color on both sides, it's cooked all the way through."
White gazpacho, a classic Spanish soup made with cucumbers, almonds, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and day-old bread soaked in water, is common all over Andalucía, especially in summer. Jonathan Benno prepares it with delectable marcona almonds, which are sold roasted and already peeled. Instead of the traditional green grapes, he tops this intensely nutty gazpacho with pickled shrimp, adding another level of sweet-tart flavor.
Jonathan Benno uses store-bought puff pastry and an uncomplicated caramel to make this sublime and surprisingly fast dessert. It reminds him of the homey cobblers his grandmother used to make, but with the refinement of a classic French apple tarte Tatin. "This whole menu is all about what I love to eat in the middle of the summer," Benno says. "I'd sit down to this meal any day in August."
This colorful salad of green and yellow beans and waxy potatoes reminds Jonathan Benno of his brief stint in the kitchen at Al Di Là, a wildly popular Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. His friend Anna Klinger, the chef and co-owner, taught him how to make this deliciously tangy dressing, a mix of anchovies, poached garlic and olive oil.