Locals, legends in the galley at SOBEWFF's Ocean Liner Dinner at The Wolfsonian

It’s not every day a chef gets to share his kitchen with the likes of Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Andew Carmellini, Francois Payard, and team Morin-McMillan, but last Friday night Miami’s own Ken Lyon of Lyon + Lyon fame opened his Wolfsonian-FIU outpost to them. Here are Lyon’s own words on the experience and the evening.

“Usually, when Lyon + Lyon caters a dinner, the focus is, most assuredly, with the guests and the environment they occupy; the dinning room. The chefs are left with the quite peacefulness (just a touch of irony) of the kitchen, as guests are rarely interested in what’s happening behind the usually closed doors.  Call it Upstairs-Downstairs or Downton Abbey, either way, the line is drawn quite distinctly.

In the case of our crew staging and serving the retro-cuisne oriented Ocean Liner Dinner at the Wolfsonian-FIU on Friday night during the SBWFF, and with the rare opportunity and honor to work with New York-based Messrs. Ripert, Boulud, Carmellini, Payard, and team Morin-McMillan of Montreal, the tables were literally turned.  

The paparazzi arrived – and focused on – the outdoor loading dock kitchen! The TV crews, journalists and significant amount of jaw-dropped restro-groupies and glitterati were stacked in the plating kitchen, nee museum receiving area, with iPhone cameras aimed at the posing, all-gracious and affable hero’s of the evening.  The MC for the event, in full black tie regalia, was yet another royalty of our crazy food world; the esteemable and charming Anthony Bourdain (above in tuxedo); larger-than-life, swinging back-and-fro, dinning room-to-kitchen – probably not sure in which world he belongs, or in which he is happiest in!  

Just as the last bowl of Eric Ripert’s first course of sublime lobster bisque (above) with his ethereal lobster quenelles were finished being served, enters Martha Stewart – in from the alley, no less – here to taste, observe and kibitz with the assembled dream-team.  As Martha exits for the dinning room, fresh black French winter truffles, the size of golf balls, were sliced and used to finish course number two; the Montreal-contingents oeufs en gelee, creme de jambon au celeri.  

All of us were then entranced observing Daniel Boulud (above) put the finishing touches on course number three; a whole halibut bonne femme, complete with its repertoire of classic garnishes; tiny poached shrimp, tarragon-scented fish mousseline, perfectly-turned mushroom caps and potatoes, spinach parcels filled with mushroom duxelles, miniature shrimp chips, puff-pastry fleurons, all of which which he set on a silver platter and then proceeded to parade through the dinning room, showing off the exquisitely presented masterpiece like a proud papa!

Andrew Carmellini’s contribution to the orgy, the last savory course, was a Pithivier of Pheasant; golden pastry globes, sliced to reveal the perfectly medium-rare foie gras layered atop of the tender wild Scottish pheasant breast, all wrapped in a blanket of cabbage and then encased in the pastry. His name may be Carmellini, but this dish was pure Houdini!  

Last but not least, Francois Payard (above), the pastry maestro, the evening’s closer.  And show stopper!  His William Pear Belle Helene was no tric. It was pure, simple and exquisite.  The pears were grown, ripened and hand picked for this event from a farmer in California, glaced in maple syrup and brown butter, served warm with vanilla ice cream, paired with (or in this case, peared with) a 1997 Chateau d’Yquem. Luminosity in a glass and an evening to remember. ”  

Ken Lyon
Lyon + Lyon Catering

Miami, Florida