Colorful food porn, with plates Henri Matisse would envy! The Grey Plume!


My first stop on my culinary world tour!!  Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So for a brief background, I am actually working in this restaurant which is called a “stage”, eating, doing a chef interview and writing my experiences to share with you!!!!! Enjoy!!!

Ohh…I must also start by apologizing for some issues in clarity with some pictures.  I did the best I could, as I was ready to bounce the camera it ended up falling off the bar.  LOL! I have a new one now, but the food pics I got just don’t do justice!  I will return for redemption!

Background:

I was first introduced to The Grey Plume from Chef Michael Howe whom is the Managing Partner/Owner. I meet Chef Michael at the Art Institute Chicago campus, where he is a culinary instructor, while attending an open house call for internships, sponsoring my restaurant at the time; Sunda. Waiting to see an old instructor of mine, I began dialogue with Chef Michael and got the background………I had to go!!!!

If you don’t know there is a rating system in our country that measures how green a food establishment is, you live in a hole! The Green Restaurant Association (www.Dinegreen.com) is it! Check it out………Going green is a new concept that is growing in popularity and it’s not a bad thing. By going to the website and look up restaurants you will find many thorough the rating system.  Only 1 stands alone with 4 stars, The Grey Plume, Greenest restaurant in America. From front to back and everything in-between, recycled and reusable are within these walls.  Example: Their B&B plates are created from recycled wine bottles; different shapes and colors….. genius, which add a wonderful character to the place settings!

Let’s not forget about the colorfully, great food as well.  From farm to plate you will find a masterpiece on every vehicle!

I thought parking wouldn’t be a problem, but there were some issues…They dont let motorcycles park in the parking garage?????? No sign no warning!!!! Arriving at the Grey Plume I was meet by Chef Clayton Chapman, followed by the parking attendant chasing me stating “you can’t park there”?!?! I then parked in front of the restaurant at a meter that Chef Clayton offered to pay..Thanks!!! After the parking fiasco……..

Enter the restaurant:

My journey began with a tour of the restaurant and introduction to Chef Clayton’s lovely wife Bernadette, whom helps out in the office from time to time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Dining room seats: about 44

 

Dining room: Soft warming tones of, tan and white encompass the dining room with slightly colorful art featuring local artists.  The darker wood floors and black upholstery bring it together, creating a humbling atmosphere leading to the bar with shades of grey revealing a semi open kitchen layered with stainless steel.  This is a place I would be comfortable to eat and know it will be amazing! Not to forget the bright red fire truck looking machine nestled in a corner…….what the heck is that?  Chef Clayton explains “It’s a coffee roaster”!

Come to find out, coffee is a passion of Chef Clayton’s! He thoroughly enjoys it and loves the sharing aspect of coffee that brings people together. At the restaurant they roast, bag, sell and use in recipe’s! Like the drink called “The Grey Plume”……Orange Liquor, coffee and bitters.  Great for after meal, digestive!

 

 

 

 

The coffee is so good I took some home to my family!

 

 

 

At this point I ran into Alex Adkins a very nice fellow whom heads FOH operations as the GM.  Onward to the bar I am lead to a bookcase, on the shelves are various cookbooks and culinary works that the staff has collected, Thomas Keller’s  “Under pressure”, various citrus’, choice of wine and of course the coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Bar seats: about 11

*Chef’s Tabel: about 4-6

 

 

Enter the kitchen, stainless everywhere and a bit smaller than I would have imagined!  I have been in smaller though.  No walk-ins, just lowboy and some stand up double-door coolers.  2 rows of workspace for service, a small prep area in the back and decent dish pit area. Clean and organized!!  Product going in and out daily, they pride themselves for growing their own assortment of micro-greens and working with local farmers to truly represent the meaning of farm to plate! So the menu changes frequently!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to work with passionate culinarians such as my self is a fine privilege and that is what makes up the body of the kitchen here!

A Chef at work, “The Stage”:

Prep: After the tour and introductions, I quickly changed and got ready for work! “What you got for me, Chef? Well, some fresh ramps that need some cleaning!

Definition: Ramps or wild leeks, has a onion/garlicky flavor and is available from March – June.  It is commonly used for grilling and it pickles well!

I am on it, setup a nice station and began work. After getting through a hotel of ramps, some knife work had to be done.  Now I am a knife lover and collector, my knife is always razor sharp, but I ended up having to large dice some butternut squash.  I haven’t worked with this particular squash before, let me tell you it is a hard squash. My Japanese knives were screaming while I was cutting this. Moving on to the back I was asked to make their signature angolotti.  No problem for my Italian background…………….

 

 

 

 

Me making Wagyu Beef Short rib Agnolotti!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service: After completing the pasta it was about time for service setup!  I took a moment to attend pre shift and introduce myself, then back into the kitchen I went. Service style is a little different from what I am use to.  Each station creates their items and then passed on to the Chef expo whom constructs the plate.  I am use to each station completing a dish and passing to expo for just maybe garnish before going out the window. Not all kitchens are created equal!  I learned in Italy from my chef that you have to adapt to the service you offer in different venues!

As service started I observed how things came together and jumped right in!  I worked the pasta, vegetables and sauces.  It didn’t take me long to get the rhythm and communication down….like riding a bike!  I haven’t really worked on a line in a while, but I still got it…… muscle memory!  After busting out the entire service and doing my part on my station it was time to eat!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Chef Clayton doing what he does best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food glorious food:

I sampled some various dishes paired with some wonderful wine, recommended by Alex…..I was in heaven!

Charcuterie Board: Cured Lamb Belly, Local feta, Housemade Gravlax, Foie Gras au Torchon, Pork headcheese, Duck prosuitto, and some various housemade goodies served with grilled baguette………amazing and very fresh, there is love here! Great with wine!


Pacific Halibut with Spatzle and that Dang Knife Killer Squash: Pan seared halibut, Creme fraiche spatzle, Pickled butternut squash, Short rib ju, Plum radish, Paris market carrot………Perfectly cooked fish, combined with spatzle, crunchy pickled squash and rib ju, makes for a flavorfully textured masterpiece! OHH……the colors!!!! To eat or not to eat!!!!!  No questions…..Do it!!!

Braised Short Rib: Lavender powder, Chocolate sauce, Walnuts, Orange supremes……….New technique learned: Using Maltodextrin combined with liquids or fats creates a powder.  It just melts in your mouth……amazing! Fragrant scent of lavender and saltines on the tongue, combined with the tenderness of the rib, subtle sweetness from the chocolate and the citrus to cut through the fat…..the dish is one of the most uniquely balanced creation of food I have ever put into my mouth appeasing the sences!!!!


Chef Interview:

Duke: Why a chef?

Chef Clayton: I like to cook and I like food, making people happy, being fulfilled with a sense of community contributing to the life-cycle of food by building relationships with farmers.

“Void of hunger to an experience”

Duke: Why The Grey Plume?

Chef Clayton: Named after my son Hudson Grey, and Plume representing a nod to French cooking! It represents that sustainability makes sense.

Duke: What is you favorite meal?

Chef Clayton: Pasta with cheese, some grilled onions and tomatoes.

Duke: What advise would you tell to aspiring chef’s?

Chef Clayton: Work hard, keep you head down and don’t work because of the money!

 

Conclusion:

A great time, unforgettable 1st experience with good people and amazing food! Passion and true love can be found here and they never look back! I thank Chef Michael, Chef Clayton, Alex, Bernadette, Chef John and the entire BOH/FOH team for letting me into their home! Oh if you don’t know who Henri Matisse is………look him up! Internet is a wonderful thing!

Keep Eating!!!!

 

 

 

One thought on “Colorful food porn, with plates Henri Matisse would envy! The Grey Plume!

  1. Hi John, Very good review of your experience at the Grey Plume! Keep cooking!

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