Situated in Midtown, NYC, Gabriel Kreuther serves an Alsatian-inspired dining experience at his eponymous restaurant – a space where guests can escape the chaos of the city. Take a moment with us as Gabriel shares with us his early childhood memories, the importance of harmony in his dishes, and his favorite plating tools.
Some of Gabriel Kreuther’s earliest memories as a child involve making tarte flambés with his grandfather and mother and drying plums in wood-burning stove. Since then, he’s spent time in Michelin starred kitchens throughout Germany, France, and Switzerland – and in June 2015 he opened up his personal establishment in the heart of NYC.
It’s one thing to see Gabriel’s strikingly beautiful dishes, but it is entirely another to experience its complexity and harmony of textures and flavors.
What is your earliest memory with food?
My very earliest memory was when I was probably 4-years-old, watching my grandfather and my mother making tarte flambé and being a part of that. I also have fond memories of my mother baking the little traditional Alsatian cookies that are made at Christmas time. She had a real knack for making them. While she made them for our family, she also made batches that she sold to the neighbors during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Another favorite memory I have is drying out plums with my grandfather in our wood-burning stove in the kitchen. I could not have been more than 5-year-old at the time.
What is the experience like at your restaurant?
I would describe it as elegant, yet comfortable and relaxed. I want guests to feel that when they are with us, they can be themselves and have a good time. The space itself is also an oasis away from the chaos of the city, and guests really enjoy that feeling of escape.
What is your culinary philosophy?
I would say it is drawing from and using my Alsatian roots as well as the inspiration I get from the many cultures I’ve encountered as I’ve traveled. That combined with using the best ingredients and extracting their flavors to the fullest extent without using substitutes, i.e. truffle oil.
You seem to really think about overall harmony, bringing in many different textures, flavors, and elements into your dishes – is this something you are consciously doing?
In a word – yes. To me, harmony in a dish is very important – creating layers of flavor so that the dish seems simple to the eye but is complex and harmonious in the mouth when people eat it. Having and trying to have all five senses be a part of the experience is also an important part of creating that overall harmony.
Can you describe one of your dishes as an example?
The Smoked Sturgeon and Sauerkraut Tart
In this example we have many elements, the crunchiness of the tart shell and the acidity of the sauerkraut combined with the richness of the mousseline and the sturgeon. A great example of layers, and a focus on look and presentation – the smoke under a wine glass adds a dramatic element. The wine glass is taken off in front the guest so that it opens up the taste buds and engages the smell.
The Squab and Foie Gras Croustillant
This is another example where we have the crunchy element. It’s almost like a sort of large spring roll, filled with cabbage, squab and foie gras. It is then all cooked together so that the flavors build up, and the cabbage takes in the foie gras fat. It’s served with a nice mix of vegetables and mushroom, and finished with a squab jus. People usually remember that dish very well because of the flavors and the crunch.
How would you describe your plating style?
Harmonious and whimsical at times – depending on the dish – leaving a little element of surprise. Each element has a role to play. It is not there by chance.
Any tips for plating?
Visualize the dish in your head before starting to plate. Frame the dish nicely to the plate that you are using. Think of the plate as a blank canvas. Play with the colors and textures of each element so that when you are done, the result is balanced and harmonious.
What are your favorite plating tools?
Small spoons, a small offset spatula, a tweezer for fragile items, and sometimes a ruler.