Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Food

An Afikomen at the Feast for the Museum of Food and Drink

Most super-acclaimed chefs are known for a signature cuisine — Mario Batali is the king of Italian, Eric Ripert is the master of French fish preparation and Alice Waters is the mother of American local cuisine. Outside of Iron Chef stadium or an episode of Top Chef Masters, it’s rare that diners have the fortune, and potentially the entertaining experience, of seeing (and tasting) the work of chefs thrown out of their comfort zone.

This Sunday, nine of New York’s most talented chefs took on the challenge, as part of a benefit for the future Museum of Food and Drink, hosted at Del Posto. Each chef was assigned a course concept that would intentionally push them to think out of the box and away from their chosen cuisine. “Every course is different. Some are serious and some are sort of jokey and some are ridiculous” said Brooks Headley, head pastry chef at Del Posto, who prepared the meal’s last course. “Everyone’s excited to see what will happen with this lunch!” he told us last week.

Wylie Dufresne, a master of molecular gastronomy and modernist cooking was asked to create Cave Man Food, while Nils Noren of the French Culinary Institute took on the challenge of re-imagining the terrible food trend of Fad Diets. Innovative Asian chef David Chang, of Momofuku, had to conceive of a dish that represented American Food circa 1491, prompting him to say: “It’s sad, we know more about what dinosaurs ate than native American food,” recalled Dave Arnold, who organized the event and is the main force behind the museum.

Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the meal — which included a course of Shriveled Meats, or salami, and was kicked off with a dish by Chang whose menus are filled with shellfish and pork — was that it ended on a Jewish dish made with matzo.

The final of three desserts was an elegant dish comprised of a small ball of sheep’s milk ricotta gelato encrusted with crushed caramelized matzo and served aside a baby artichoke that was lightly salted and dipped in a honey glaze. Arnold asked Headley to make a dish inspired by food of the Roman Jewish ghetto after he recently learned that part of his Italian catholic family was originally Jewish and from Spain. His family fled during the Inquisition and converted to Christianity.

Arnold expected Headley to make a classic Roman chestnut dessert. But Headley, who has a flair for incorporating vegetables into desserts thought otherwise. “One of the first things I thought of was fried artichokes done in the roman style,” said Headley. Carciofi alla Guidia, or artichokes in the Jewish style, deliciously cooked in oil. It “is the most famous of all Italian Jewish foods,” writes Edda Servi Machlin, in “The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews.” The non-Jewish Headley, going a step further, also wanted to incorporate the culinary theme of Passover into the dish. The result was a rather savory dessert, he explained. “Many of the components are sweet and salty at the same time. It has a bit of tang to it.”

The inspiration for many of the courses, while imaginative, may also be jumping off points for areas of the museum, Arnold said. He hopes to have the museum up and running in Manhattan in about five years. Will Jewish food play a role? We’ll await hungrily to see.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.