Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Moto Chef for a Day Experience – Part 1

At a charity event a few years ago I bought a silent auction package with my friend, Amy, which included a chef for a day experience at Moto restaurant.  After much deliberation on what we were willing to spend, we decided on a number and we won!  We are both huge foodies so this was very exciting. 
To give you some background, Moto restaurant is known for their avant-garde cuisine and use of molecular gastronomy.  They just received a Michelin Star, which is a huge deal.  The chef, Homaro Cantu, is very well-known and has appeared on the cover of Gourmet magazine, competed on Iron Chef America, and has dozens of patents on some mind-blowing food related technology.  He even had his own show with co-host Ben Roche called Future Foods. 
Needless to say we were over the top excited for our day in the kitchen.  When the day finally arrived we showed up at the back door right on time decked out in our comfortable shoes.  When Chef Cantu opened the door we were both a little star struck, to say the least.  Chefs are serious celebrities to us. This is kind of like a Bears fan interacting with Urlacher.
Anyway, he told us they were filming in the kitchen that day so we were not able to cook with them, but he invited us to come back for dinner that night.  We were both disappointed that we were not able to cook but THRILLED that we got to actually dine there. 
Our meal was absolutely amazing.  The menu that night included an edible menu (they are famous for their edible paper), a Cuban sandwich that looked just like a cigar (it was even served in an ashtray), a few courses that included dry ice, and many other spectacular items.  We loved every single bite.
Fast forward a couple of years and Amy and I were at another charity event with the same package.  We loved our meal at Moto so much, but we both still wanted to experience the kitchen.  So we bid (competitively) and won! 
Once again we arrived at the back door full of anticipation.  This time we were greeted by the adorable Richie Farina.  You may recognize him from Top Chef, Season 9.  Again, we were both a little star struck. 
Richie gave us a tour of the restaurant and provided us with some very stylish aprons and chef’s coats. 
Amy chatting it up with Richie.  Notice she is trying to act like this is a normal occurrence. 

Then they put us to work!  My first job was to stem sea beans.  I knew nothing about sea beans but I was about to become very familiar with them.  That container held a LOT of beans.  They were actually really tasty.  Crunchy and salty!

Amy got to work cleaning ramps.

After I finished my sea beans I moved on to filling flasks with a bourbon infused cocktail. 

I was totally geeking out at this point.

Amy was given instructions by Ben Roche on how to make coffee bean sachets.  Every diner would get one of these in their first course.  Just wait until you see what actually goes into the first course….

Here are some action shots around the kitchen.  Fascinating stuff.

We even got to have lunch with the staff.  It was around this point that Amy and I decided we absolutely must come back for dinner that night to enjoy our efforts.  I am so glad we decided to do this because it was out of this world!  Even better than the last time we had eaten there.

We also got a tour of their indoor hydroponic garden.  They harvest microgreens from this for every meal service!

Here we are with Richie after we finished cooking.  He pretty much told us that he didn’t know how they got that Michelin star without having us in the kitchen.  Maybe he didn’t say that exactly, but I got the gist. 

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