Food has been the topic of countless books and writing workshops — Kevin Young’s upcoming Week Three Writers’ Center workshop, for example — but food inspired by writing is more unusual.
Though he has worked at the best restaurants in the world — from el Bulli in Spain to Alinea in Chicago — he hates eating his own food and detests cooking for himself after spending hours steeped in kitchen accoutrements. Instead, Executive Chef Ross Warhol snacks on Frank’s Red Hot with cottage cheese, gummy bears and Breyers black raspberry ice cream.
Managing the Athenaeum Hotel kitchen’s creation of three meals a day, Warhol rarely eats any full meals himself. He instead subsists on taste-testing his dishes and remains energized despite the fact that he averages only a few hours of sleep a night.
Alex Gray wants to be “that guy.”
As executive chef of the President’s Cottage and sous chef at the Athenaeum Hotel, Gray will do any task, help any employee and cook any dish to the best of his ability.
“If it needs to be done, I’ll do it. I think the phrase ‘that guy’ has gotten poor feedback in the past, but I like to be that guy,” Gray said. “I want people to look around for me, not look around me.”
Gray, returning for his third season at Chautauqua, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and first discovered the Institution while working at the nearby restaurant La Fleur during his college years. La Fleur is also where he met current executive chef of the Athenaeum Hotel, Ross Warhol, also a Culinary Institute of America graduate.
To a chef, a plate is a canvas waiting to be bedecked with delicate, colorful works of food art. Athenaeum Hotel’s Executive Chef Ross Warhol takes that idea one step further with his third and final Praxis dinner, “Painted.”
“It’s going to be a dinner that is created with dishes from artists … van Gogh or Picasso or Chihuly. We’ll re-create their favorite meal or the most popular dish of their time and plate it in the same style that they painted or sculpted,” Warhol said.
“Painted” is a special five-course meal presented to a sold-out crowd of 50 people at 5:30 p.m. today at the Athenaeum Hotel.
His hands move deftly as he pulls the twine in loops over the beef tenderloin.
It’s a practiced movement for Ross Warhol, the 24-year-old executive chef of the Athenaeum Hotel. He does it as he talks, as he samples the soup to check its progress, as he fields questions from the other six people who comprise his kitchen team.
Warhol, whose kitchen must feed several hundred tonight for dinner, takes a break to chat about an inventive dinner he has planned this week — the 1884 dinner. It’s the first in a series of three Praxis dinners. Warhol gives a few instructions on his way out, but when he steps out of the kitchen, he is attentive and talks about his dinners with gusto.
For the 1884 dinner, a five-course meal with seating from 5:30–8 p.m. Friday at the Athenaeum, he will serve reinvented dishes from an 1884 menu from the Chautauqua archives, Ida Edison’s family cookbook and recipes from the 1888 Bird, Tree & Garden Club.
Ross Warhol, executive chef of the President’s Cottage, and sous chef Alex Gray led guests through a six-course sampling of dishes that explored how a dash of science can flavor, texture and otherwise manipulate food.
About 30 people attended “Molecular Gastronomy: A Demonstration of Molecular Cooking” Tuesday in the ballroom of the Athenaeum Hotel. Molecular gastronomy studies the chemistry behind cooking and is an exciting development for haute cuisine, Warhol said.