Welcome to our latest feature/live event, Eater Test Kitchen (or, as its buzzed about on The Twitter, #eatertestkitchen). Every now and again, we'll invite chefs to drop by Eater HQ at 36 Cooper Square to show off what they're working on. We buy the food, they do the cooking, everyone eats, and the interns clean up the plates at the end. Win, win, win, win.
Loved Village restaurant Joseph Leonard may be down for the count after its fire last month, but that doesn't mean its chefs are standing idly by while it's rebuilt. They're ramping up the food program at Jeffrey's, planning for the opening of Fedora next month and taking this opportunity to refine the menu at Joseph Leonard and introduce a few more dishes too. So, we figured it was a good time to welcome chef de cuisine James McDuffee and his chef Patrick McGrath to show us what they're working on in the Eater Test Kitchen.
First, a word on the status of the empire. Joseph Leonard is well on the way to being rehabbed. The kitchen and dining room were not severely damaged, and McDuffee tells Eater that about 60 percent of the damage was done by the firefighters breaking through glass and walls, tossing chairs on the street and the like. The building's contractor, the restaurant's contractor, and the insurance company's contractor have all been through and made their assessments. And McDuffee is confident it will reopen before the first of the year.
Meanwhile, all of the staff is over at Jeffrey's, meaning every shift has a few more people than it really needs. They've extended the hours and ramped up the prepared foods in the market, making use of bruised or un-sellable items in the market by using them for baked goods.
Fedora is on schedule to open in mid-December. McDuffee couldn't speak to the menu, because that is the purview of chef Medhi Brunet-Benkritly from Montreal, but he says that if Medhi even scratches the surface of what he thinks he can do, it's going to be an incredible menu.
So what did Team JoLeo make this afternoon for Eater, our sister sites Curbed and Racked, and our officemates at Hard Candy Shell and Foursquare? McDuffee and McGrath served up items we can look forward to seeing on the Joseph Leonard 2.0 menu: short ribs with some incredibly buttery glazed carrots (in the restaurant these will be served alongside bone marrow), roasted cauliflower with Marcona almonds, pickled chiles, and capers (in the restaurant this will be mixed with raw shaved cauliflower), butter lettuce salad, and pillowy gnocchi with Parmesan (in the restaurant, with squash). It was a spectacle to say the least.
Oh and just for fun, T Edward Wines sent over some cases of bubbly and pinot noir, and 'wichcraft just so happened to shoot over apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies to promote their Thanksgiving delivery program.
Stay tuned as Little Wisco tries to go for a trifecta of openings in just one season.
Meantime, chefs who'd like to pay a visit to Eater Test Kitchen, shoot an email our way and let us know what you have in mind. Rest assured, we are all ears.
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