It's mesmerizing. 

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated January 08, 2020
NBC/Getty Images

The past year has been busy for Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He opened several new concepts, including his first two in Philadelphia at the Four Seasons; he also released yet another book in the form of his memoir, JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes. The book, which debuted in October 2019, includes a dozen recipes that have defined his career, including shrimp satay with a wine-oyster reduction and pea guacamole.

On Tuesday’s episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, Vongerichten went on to promote the memoir and also show Meyers how to make an impressive but simple black sea bass pastry dish step-by-step. The recipe, which he learned when he was 16 years old, comes from his latest seafood restaurant, the Fulton—his fortieth addition to a sprawling restaurant empire—which is located at Pier 17 in New York City next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

He and Meyers don chef hats (Meyers’ is way too small for his head, which he jokes about throughout the segment) and start by seasoning their respective fishes. Then, they lay them on top of a sheet of pastry and brush egg yolk wash all around the fishes, before covering them with a second layer of pastry and tucking them in “nice and tight” so they're enveloped. As they work, Meyers asks Vongerichten to name the craziest thing that’s ever happened at one of his restaurants, and if it’s true that someone once got naked. It is.

“Yeah, they said the food was so good, I’m going to walk home naked,” Vongerichten says and laughs. (Is he joking? We’re not sure.)

Now comes the really impressive part—taking a knife and using it to shape the pastry so that it looks like a realistic fish. Vongerichten cuts fins, creates scales on the exterior using a little metal tool, and even makes a little “smile” near where the fish’s mouth would be. Meyer’s fish doesn’t come looking nearly as refined, but it’s a valiant effort. The fish cooks inside the pastry in the oven, and the end result is beautiful and golden brown. Meyers jokes, “That is a dish that I would never be able to pull off.” But if you've got fish and pastry on hand at home, it's worth a shot.

You can find Vongerichten’s memoir available on Amazon for $14.

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