It all started with a simple email: ‘How would you like to meet Chef Jehangir Mehta? He’ll be at Broadway Bites promoting Blendability. You can also email us questions to have him answer.’ After I got over my initial reaction ( that perhaps they confused me with some more famous blogger) I immediately said yes and started working on the logistics. This interview/meeting almost didn’t happen – it turned out at the last minute that the blogger event was scheduled on Shabbat. However, Sarah and Ellina graciously worked it out that I would be able to meet Chef Mehta on Friday morning, the day before the event!
Chef Jehangir Mehta is famous across the world – I’ll explain more about that in my second post, where I get the answers to the questions I emailed him. For now, I want to focus on Blendability and the event at Broadway Bites.
Blendability (as I understand it) is the art and science of taking mushrooms and using that to replace a percentage of ground animal protein (such as turkey, beef, chicken) – without impacting the original ingredient in any negative fashion (in terms of mouthfeel, consistency or taste). How is this art and science? I asked Chef Mehta how he would use this in a real-life scenario. He explained to me that the Angus Blended Burger took a lot of experimenting to get right, ensuring the ‘whole burger experience – the char on the outside, the juiciness, the flavor.’ While he experimented with ratios of meat to mushroom as high as 70/30, he found his ideal blend at 80/20.
Broadway Bites is a twice yearly pop-up event located at Greeley Square Park (33rd and Broadway) that showcases a cross section of the awesome food scene that makes NYC one of the foodie capitals of the world. My designated foodie (DH’s aunt, who has an exceptionally refined palate, definite opinions and impeccable manners and taste) and I met up with Chef Mehta at his popup for Graffiti and his newest venture Me and You (I will DEFINITELY be discussing this more in detail in the next Chef Mehta post!)
As my designated foodie keeps kosher as well (‘completely kosher in the house, kosher-style outside the house, and no meat or obvious treif’- her words, not mine) she sampled the vegetable mushroom dumplings. While I marveled at the smell (a spicy blend of Asian and Indian, and simply mouthwatering) and the presentation ( there were bits of tiny crunchy garnish that had been made by with garbanzo bean flour and water using a spaetzel -style technique of forcing the batter through a sieve) she gave me a low down on the taste.
” Very good. Wow. Oh. Are you sure there is no meat in here? It’s spicy, and there is something I can’t place, but very good. I’d definitely pay money for this. Look, I cleaned my plate. ”
Consider that this woman has dined aboard the Queen Mary II cruise liner, has traveled the world, and regularly dines with friends in the best restaurants (kosher as well as non kosher), I feel I can say that this was not your standard vegetable dumpling.
While DH’s aunt enjoyed her dumplings and chatted with Ellina and the cook behind the counter, I was able to get nearly an hour, uninterrupted, to speak with Chef Mehta. What did we talk about? I’ll give you a little teaser – the conversation spanned from how to get children to try new foods, the importance of teaching them as young as possible to know their palettes, how to shift the tastes and food preferences of an entire generation. We touched on religion, compared cultures, and even considered that an newer form of cooking technology could possibly revolutionize how to cook for Shabbat and Yom Tov. We also talked about eating gluten free for necessity versus eating that way as a diet or out of the perception it is healthier.
But for all that…well, there will be another post!
For a cooking video from Culinary Institute of America’s Chef Bill Briwa demonstrating Blendability, click here
For everything you need to know about Chef Jehangir Mehta, his restaurants (Graffiti, Mehtaphor, and his new venue Me and You) click here