In our video series Finding Grace, we showed you the creation of former Alinea chef de cuisine Curtis Duffy's new restaurant, Grace, in Chicago, and the intense dedication of Duffy and his team to creating a truly graceful experience for guests. The irony, of course, is that all that was taking place in the midst of construction far from an atmosphere of grace in practice. Now the restaurant is open, and our man Huge Galdones followed service one night last week to capture it in full swing as the realization of Duffy and GM Michael Muser's aspirations. We'll show you how Duffy's light, vegetable-flavor-driven dishes come together on the plate, but you'll also see the intensity and precision that goes into creating the total guest experience at perhaps the most exacting and inspiring restaurant opening of the past year. Here is Curtis Duffy's vision in practice five nights a week, at 652 West Randolph in Chicago.
Table for two.
Every detail is carefully addressed before service starts.
Stemware as far as the eye can see (but tucked out of view of the diners).
Window into the kitchen.
Chef Curtis Duffy with chef de cuisine Nicholas Romero (right).
A pantry for all to see.
Consistency is a recurring theme, along with the goal (mentioned many times during the pre-service meeting) of "honoring the guest's experience."
Dipping liquid popcorn in chocolate.
Picking the seeds out of finger lime cells.
Plenty of liquid nitrogen used in this kitchen, for sweet and savory menu items alike.
Tonight's family meal: tacos.
Caramelizing the brioche French toast for the anise hissop dish containing Queensland Blue Water Squash and crabapple.
Spraying staves with Elmer T. Lee bourbon.
Amuse gueules: The staves eventually get charred to point of smoking.
Saffron and black lime cracker before it hits the fryer.
Pre-service front of house meeting.
Chef Duffy's ink.
Every station's mise is always impeccably "en place."
Ossetra caviar, meyer lemon, kumquat jam, chive.
Kampachi, golden trout roe, pomelo, Thai basil.
Parsnip, dried pineapple, tarragon ice, fennel.
Chef Nick plating the carrot course, consisting of carrot, Iranian pistachio, whipped mascarpone, carrot top.
Bitter chocolate, raw chesnut, persimmon, lemon mint.
Double-dipping in nitro.
Plating the Chilled scallop course with hibiscus tea, five licorice-flavored herbs.
The completed chilled scallop course.
Sunchoke, braised mustard seeds, freekeh, cippolini onion, lovage.
Chef Duffy in action.
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