Welcome to Dish Sketches, a new feature where Eater asks chefs for the drawings they make of their food before they cook it. First up, Jesus Nunez, the chef/owner of Upper West Side Spanish restaurant Gastroarte.
Before he was a chef, Gastroarte's Jesus Nunez was a graffiti and fine artist. And how does a former artist start work a new dish? He sketches it, of course. Check out two of his most complex drawings below.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad:
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Chef Nunez explains:
So, in the case of the beet salad, the idea was to transform something classic into something more. So, the first question is: what colors are we going to have with the beets? We have yellow, red, and white. Then the preparations: what can we do with the beets? We can roast them, we can pickle them, boil them, cream, powder, crudo, etc. And then the other step is the architecture on the plate, the forms — circles and cylinders. Then we have the goat cheese. What can we do with the goat cheese? And all of the other ingredients, because it's a salad? You are going to have all of these colors, forms, ways to cook, combinations, so we decided that we are going to do a beet and goat cheese "mosaic" salad.
Here's the finished product:
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From the chef:
The idea is to take something that is Mediterranean and rustic, and play with the architecture. So, we decided we were going to start with the rice — that's the main ingredient. What colors did we have with the rice? We could do black, we could do yellow with saffron, we could do red with peppers and tomatoes, and we could do green with herbs. But I decided to do black, because I love black rice. Then, we have to decide what's going to be in the rice. In this case I started to start playing with the black and the white, so we have the rice that is black combined with the squid that is white. With these two ingredients and colors, I decided that we are going to have a trip to Spain, with typical Spanish ingredients like chorizo, jamon, saffron, sobrasada, cheese, and aioli. So, with all of these ingredients, I decided to remove a few of them because they're not going to combine perfectly. At this moment, I know that we're going to have black, white, yellow, red, and light yellow. But I want to incorporate some veggies, and I like snow peas, and they're not so typical. And then we start playing with the forms. I know that the rice is going to be a square, I know the squid is going to be irregular, there's going to be balls of sobrasada, etc.
The finished dish:
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