Chef Jean-François Bruel Shares Classic and Modern French Cooking
The Restaurant Daniel executive chef appeared at ICE for the Elite Chef series.
Last week, Restaurant Daniel Executive Chef Jean-François Bruel visited our New York campus. The French chef has more than two decades of experience in fine dining, from restaurants in France, under prominent chefs Georges Blanc, Paul Haeberlin and Michel Guérard, to New York City restaurants Cafe Boulud, db Bistro Moderne and Daniel, where he’s maintained two Michelin stars and three stars from The New York Times since 2003.
He demonstrated a classic dish using a modern technique — cryoconcentrated mushroom consommé — followed by a quail, squab and black truffle pithivier.
Students tasted the mushroom consommé after cryoconcentration intensified the flavor, while Chef Jean-François walked through the process from vacuum sealing and cooking sous vide to draining, chilling and freezing, recommending repeating the method three times.
He went on to break down quail and squab, combine and freeze the leg and liver with fat back, bacon, pancetta, foie gras and bread, and then grind the mixture.
"You have to have a balance when you create your menu,” Chef Jean-François explained, referencing the complication of dishes, mis en place and cost. For this pithivier farce, foie gras brings richness and bacon adds smokiness, for a balance of flavor. “You have to use ingredients in season for flavor and economy,” he said.
The pastry filling is built inside a mold using the stuffing as the glue between each layer. He alternates between farce and the remaining ingredients: mushroom confit, spinach, quail breast, slices of truffle and squab breast, and freezes the layered domes overnight.
The chef used ring cutters for consistent puff pastry bases, carefully wrapping the frozen filling in each and creating a chimney at the top for steam to escape. After brushing with egg wash and baking, Chef Jean-François cut the pithiviers in half to reveal the layers and served the final dishes with natural jus flavored with winter truffle.
As students experienced a high-level French pastry with elevated preparation, Chef Jean-François offered culinary career advice on patience, experience and diligence.
“Wherever you go in fine dining, you have to be patient,” he said, recommending one to three years at each restaurant and working with different chefs. “You have to learn things and then after, you make your own cooking.”
He supported students’ aspirations to travel and try more than one cuisine with advice that applies across all kitchens: “Take notes, always be on time, be clean and organized.”