One year ago this week, I had the honor and pleasure of inviting Johnny Iuzzini, the executive pastry chef of Jean Georges (and co-host of the upcoming BravoTV show “Just Desserts“), to cook at a special dinner here in Kansas City. The American Restaurant agreed to host the dinner, a benefit for the James Beard Foundation.
Debbie Gold, the executive chef of The American Restaurant, and her sous chef, Alex Pope (now at R Bar) created three savory courses. Nick Weseman, the talented and creative pastry chef at The American Restaurant presented one dessert and a collection of interesting pre-meal hors d’oeuvres, including a fantastic trio of “mind-blowing ice creams.”
The showpieces of the dinner, however, were Johnny’s three desserts, all of which were from his cookbook, “Dessert FourPlay,” a signed copy of which was given to each guest.
CLICK HERE to see all of the photos from this meal, or click on the course titles to see the individual photos.
“Mind-Blowing Ice Creams“
Spicy nuts & pickled berries.
Sweet Corn Soup Shots
Cherry~Black Pepper Marshmallows.
Maple~Bacon Pain Perdu
Grilled jalapeño chutney.
Roasted Candy Onion and Oxtail Soup
Clusserath-Weiler Trittenheimer Altarchen, Riesling, Mosel, Germany Kabinett 2006
Tomato gelee with cilantro.
Loggia Della Serra, Greco di Tufo, 2008
Honey & Sherry Vinegar Glazed Smoked Squab
Confit of sweetbreads.
Gerard Bertrand Pic Saint Loup, Languedoc, 2005
Crispy cake batter, cake gelato and frosting fluff.
King Estate Late Harvest Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2006
Farmer’s cheese, candied pistachios.
Nivole Moscato d’asti, 2007
Beet Parfait and Chocolate Brittle Gel
Alvear Cream Sherry
My favorite dish of the night was Johnny’s peach dessert. The fruit was exceedingly ripe and sweet, as it usually is in Missouri around this time of the year. Paired with milky Farmer’s cheese and candied pistachios, it was a wonderfully light, summery combination.
The night before the benefit, I arranged a special dinner at bluestem to welcome Johnny to our city. Colby and Megan Garrelts, the chef-owners of bluestem closed down their restaurant and cooked a private dinner for the dozen of us, including Debbie Gold and her staff from The American Restaurant. Served family-style, the food was simple, fresh, and delicious – a Midwestern, farmhand welcome (CLICK HERE to see the photos from this dinner). There was more wine than anyone could possibly consume – at least three dozen bottles, many of which were magnums, including a Jeraboam of Joullian Monterrey Valley Chardonnay, 2004 and a Methusaleh of Joullian Carmel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003.
The real fun, however, began after dinner, when all but a few of us had left. Clowning around the bar in the lounge at bluestem, I took this photo of Johnny in the early-morning hours. A rodeo-truck driver with technicolor tats and a greased-pompadour, this is classic Johnny:
Johnny’s birthday is this week – August 31 – and he’s off to Spain to celebrate at el bulli, Mugaritz, and others. Happy birthday Johnny.