The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2014

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76  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2014 PREP I t took a good six months for the locals to stop complaining about Jean Paul Lourdes, the Executive Chef installed earlier this year at Restaurant Latour, in Hamburg, NJ, a bucolic town 55 miles north of New York City. When the new chef came on board at the flagship restaurant at the Crystal Springs Resort, he changed up the menu, ditching meat and potato dishes and old-style French plates. Long-time patrons didn't take to things like smoked trout broth or matsutaki with young turnips and lime—and they let management know that. Robby Younes, Vice President of Hospitality at the resort, who hired the new chef, recalled the first two months. "You should see the letters I have in my office. It was a sh*t show with people complaining—'Where is my lamb chop? Where is my fingerling potato?'" Younes says. "I went into the kitchen and I said, 'Keep going . . . Let them go to the tavern.' " The din settled down as the restaurant received accolades for the new, strange food coming out of the tiny kitchen. Younes said, "Suddenly we got what we wanted." But that doesn't mean Chef Lourdes, now nine months into his tenure, is going to relax any time soon. For one, he's a perfectionist, teasing every nuance out of an umami broth for that just-right. And, for two, most days he doesn't know what's on the menu until just hours before service. Lourdes prepares his globally inspired, seasonally focused menu based on the day's harvest. He works with three foragers on the West and East Coasts, staying in touch throughout the day, mentally cataloging available ingredients as he conceptualizes the evening's five- and seven-course meals. The World Is His Oyster CHEF JEAN PAUL LOURDES' GLOBAL INSPIRATION FOR RESTAURANT LATOUR IN HAMBURG, NJ by Lana Bortolot / photos by Kelsey Bozler Chef Jean Paul Lourdes surveys the day's forage.

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