For the past four years, Chef April Bloomfield’s restaurants have played host to renowned English chef Fergus Henderson of St. John in London. The event, referred to as FergusStock, brings Henderson and his kitchen to New York for three days to showcase his cooking at each of Bloomfield’s restaurants. `
St. John, ranked 41st on Restaurant magazine’s list of the 50 best restaurants in the world, is renowned for nose-to-tail cooking. A typical menu might include dishes such as pressed pig’s ears, lamb’s tongue, deviled kidneys on toast and other “bits and pieces” of animals.
On Friday night, Laura and I had the pleasure of visiting the kitchen at the John Dory Oyster Bar to watch Chef Bloomfield and Chef Henderson work their offal magic for a crowd of devoted fans.
The kitchen was humming as both John Dory and St. John kitchen staff teamed up to make sure every dish sent out was perfect. As well as overseeing the kitchen, both Henderson and Bloomfield were slicing, tasting, and plating everything from the mussels, cucumber and dill salad to the freshly caught Maine sea urchin—alive until just minutes before plating.
The two different staffs worked together so seamlessly that Chef Bloomfield and Chef Henderson were able to help out just when they were needed. The two chatted away as old friends do, pausing to help a harried line cook with a plating or giving an approving taste to a plate of anchovy and egg.
Near the end of service, we were lucky enough to try a few items off the menu.
The soft roes on toast (or, in layman’s terms, cod sperm) were as rich as bone marrow, with a velvety texture similar to that of butter melting in your mouth. Raw bay scallops, lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of salt were so flavorful that I could have easily eaten three dozen of them. We also had the Maine sea urchin, which had the freshest taste of briny ocean water.
In the buzzing dining room above the kitchen, guests savored Henderson’s delicacies that, perhaps on any other day, might not sound appetizing. Henderson, jovial and gracious to everyone throughout the evening, was all too happy to sit and dine among his faithful.