How a Legendary Chef Runs One of the World's Most Iconic Restaurants — Mise En Place

- My technique is simple, I use silverware,

and I use a spoon.


Live scallop.

You know, so they're all using different

professional knives, and you only need this.

Yeah, I don't do this every day, but I really,

I try to get my hands dirty once in a while, you know.

Just to see, be in touch with the guys

because they're really the backbone of the kitchen,

you know, they're the backbone of the restaurant.

(upbeat music)

I believe Eddie is probably the fastest butcher

in New York City.

You know, black sea bass.

I mean, I am pretty good at fileting fish, but this is like,

I mean look at this, there's no flesh left on them.

He's going to use some tuna as well,

we have some sea urchin arrived.

Executive Chef Mark Lapico.

He's been with us for 17 years, from Canada.

Canada is okay.

They're good with fish, you know, so, here we are.

This tuna comes from Hawai'i every single day.

- Look at that color, it's spectacular.

It's a little bit leaner, and it works really well

with one of our signature dishes, tuna noodles,

they get cut in the style of udon noodle.

- Seeing this preparation,

we can never take that off the menu.

People come once a week,

twice a week to eat the tuna noodles.

You have to really have a good knife skill for this.

I mean, that's just a couple times, and people have no idea,

when they start eating the noodles with the chopsticks.

It's like, how are you doing this?

You know, Eddie is the master.

That's the mise en place, and then he goes upstairs.

Thai chile, olive oil and salt.

It's probably the most popular dish.

- It is treasure.

This is a good one, it's an exciting one.

- I've been using uni since I'm in New York

since 1986, from Maine, sometimes from Japan.

But we feel like the ones from California are very sweet.


The purple ones, they're the best ones.

- [Mark] Wow, look at that.

We're so lucky, like, out of the water

from the other side of the country,

and you know this morning they're here,

and in an hour they're gonna be on our menu.

- Sometimes people have no idea what it takes

to bring that little uni on the toast.

Flying them in, open them up, the labor.

- For us product is key, you know,

that's the number one thing.

We sold tens of thousands of cookbooks,

no one's ever replicated this restaurant,

and I think it's because of the sourcing of the product.

And then we have a fabulous team.

So, winter sometimes is a little bit tricky.

There's not a lot of great fresh product

in the local vicinity, but the very good thing is

it's truffle season.

Right now we're gonna go through

a shipment of black truffle.

I mean the aroma is spectacular.

You can see, check it.

- Whoa!

- This is one of those relationships that we really try to

cultivate, these guys know as soon as they clear customs,

they come directly to us.

That usually gives us a large lot to choose from.

- Is that true or no?

- Very true.

- Right, first stop.

- Saving $5, $20, $100 a pound, of all the places

that nickel and dime, in my opinion, this isn't it.

Same thing with caviar.

So, this is arguably my favorite part of the day,

or at least checking in product.

Mostly 'cause I love eating caviar.

We open each of them, taste each of them.

If you look at the caviar, you know,

each of the beads is all individual.

Wow, I mean, for me, this is an extraordinary lot.

I love the color, I love the beads,

I love how clean the finish is.

We're opening shortly, and again, they hit the mark.

We're right there.

Between the classic egg caviar and the egg toast,

we go through quite a lot of caviar.

That, and JG has a tendency to sort of give it away.


So this will cover us for the day.

We got Joe Rhee, Executive Sous Chef,

who's gonna make one of our signature dishes.

It's toasted egg yolk layered between two pieces

of house-made brioche.

That starts with the eggs, and these get tempered,

and then they get cooked for about an hour.

It's been described as the world's greatest

grilled cheese sandwich, which I think might be pretty fair.

Mostly because it gets a massive dollop of caviar on it.

For a lot of our dishes, we're looking for precision.

We get a lot of custom things made for us,

including in this case there's a ruler that has

the precise measurements of the egg toast.

All of our recipes are measured out to a tenth of a gram.

We want to make sure that if somebody loves the egg toast

in New York, that when they get it in Tokyo or in Brazil

that they're gonna have the same experience.

So the look, the weight of it,

are extremely important to us.

How many egg toasts do you think you've made?

- I would say close to a million.

- (laughing) A million?

- I cut every single bread, I cook every single egg.

At the restaurant, it's all me.

So if you see it, you know who it is, it's me.

- Each one of them is exactly perfect,

so it's gonna fit in the tray perfectly,

and that's why we use the ruler, I love this.

- Ideally, you want the butter to be as soft as possible,

so that when you fling it, it just lands.

- Well, you know it's gonna be like

this perfect golden brick and you know,

the sunlight upstairs in the kitchen,

is like magical during the day.

At the right angle, when the egg toast is on the plancha,

it almost looks like the sun is glowing.

I know that sounds a little dramatic,

but honestly it's pretty rad.

See, now when you look at it

and it's like that perfect brick,

this is the reason for the ruler.

That is the precision.

- I love those trays.

This is like, you mastered that, huh?

When this is cooked, the brioche is golden.

A little sea salt, herbs,

a spoon of fresh caviar.

And I think the texture of the crunchy, the creamy,

hot, cold, salty, it's a 10.

So we have about 40 restaurants around the world,

but this is the flagship.

Jean-Georges is the flagship.

When I'm in New York, people see me every day here.

At least 10 hours a day.

- Squab just came.

- This restaurant is really the hub of the activity.

This is where we create all the recipes and we export them

all over the world.

I would never put a dish on the menu if I don't taste it,

and if I don't eat it from A to Z.

So we're thinking about what?

- I'm thinking about smoking it whole.

- Chef Greg Brainin is our Culinary Director,

he develops all the recipes for us.

I mean right now we're working on a squab dish,

we don't have our sauce yet, we don't have a condiment yet,

we don't have a vegetable yet and that's where it starts.

I like squab with some spices.

- I think we should spice it now, let it,

- Okay, rest.

- sit a few minutes with seasoning.

- Alright.

- With cardamom, yeah?

- Let's do it.

- What do you think, cardamom?

- I like cardamom.

- I'm gonna go ahead and make a spice mix.

And what I normally do in a process like this

is I'll make it for one, in this case four.

If we like it then we just scale up the recipe.

But I weigh everything as we go,

so I don't ever have to try to get back to something.

What do you think?

- Oh yeah.

- Alright?

- Yeah.

- So check this out.

Greg made a spice and salt blend.

I mean it already smells good.

Basically we've got four of them because I think

we're still negotiating how this whole dish

is gonna play out.

We thought about frying one,

sort of like a Chinese technique.

We're gonna roast one of them whole,

and then I think we may break one of them down

and broil it underneath the Salamander.

Definitely think that we're on the right track.

Cured 20, 30 minutes just to set it, and then smoke.

- Our menu here changed about six months ago,

we have a lot of vegetarians, I mean, 20%

of our clientele

they ask for plant-based dishes and et cetera

so we decided to really go in that direction.

- All the deliveries are starting to come in,

we're working on a new dish, Caraflex cabbage.

- Here we have your Caraflex and your celery root.

This has started sprouting a little bit

because it's just come out of the ground.

- That's awesome.

The best of the vegetarian and the vegan restaurants,

they're not making a fake version of a fish dish.

They're allowing the vegetable to sort of speak for itself.

We break the cabbage down into quadrants

and then we weigh it.

It's important that the weight is the same for each of them

so that the cooking time is accurate.

Once the cabbage itself is entirely cooked,

you can see it's almost translucent and super tender.

Hailey is going to pipe the celery root puree inside of it

and then after that we're gonna sear it on the plancha.

It's going to get glazed and we finish it

with shaved white truffle.

It sounds a little wild,

but I think somebody getting a wedge of cabbage

in a restaurant like this, it's hard of them to sort of

see the perceived value in it.

- You have the truffle?

- You know the onus is on the restaurant

to sort of make sure that people feel as though

they've gotten value for their money,

that they've seen some creativity.

- We're gonna try a chef challenge here.

It's Greg and Mark.

One's gonna be fried, one's gonna be roasted,

one's gonna be broiled.

So different flavor, different texture.

- We didn't really think it was a competition, but okay.

This one will take the longest.

12 minutes to cook and three to rest.

(upbeat music)

- This can be beautiful too.

The other ones are cooked on the bone,

so it's always more flavor from the bone.

This is gonna be a little cleaner,

but faster for service.

- When you add a little bit of butter,

and you're getting ready to baste it

when it starts to get sudsy like that,

it's like the perfect temperature.

The milk solids haven't caramelized yet,

you're still getting a little bit of that lactic flavor.

Love this color, the sheen of it.

(upbeat music)

- So we'll try the fried, the roasted, the broiled,

see which one brings the most intensity, right?

Fried is super juicy, succulent.

- This is the broiled.

- The smoke on the spice, perfect.

I think both roasted on the bone are better.

- Flavor-wise, juicy.

- I think the roasted brings, because of the butter,

it brings a little more.

- I mean the broiled is more practical for us, I think.

Because all the tastings we have is one, one, one, one.

But it's so much better on the bone.

- I mean, that's the best part.

- Yeah, I think so.

- I think we can do it.

- So what we're seeing here with this turnip?

- Turnip, kohlrabi and then,

- Whiskey.

- Whiskey with the roasted, on the bone?

On the bone? Good.

- So it's like 10 after three now,

and I think we got line up in less than two hours.

This was fun, I love it,

I love that we got a direction to move on,

but we really gotta get ready for service now.

So this is Baju, she is a chef de partie on the fish station

and one of her tasks is to make the buckwheat crepes

that we're later going to wrap our langoustines in.

So we start off with a little bit of an excess in the ladle

and then dip off the rest, and the biggest reason for that

is you want the crepe to be very very thin.

Once they came in, they were cleaned,

we removed the claw and the head.

That's something that we're gonna use to make a broth.

Just nice and crispy on the outside,

that's kinda what you're looking for.

It's almost like a cast.

So 5:00 PM, cooks are, the whole crew is at family meal.

We usually take this time as the last moment of the day

before service starts where we can really break open

every container, put a spoon into every sauce

and make sure that all the mise en place is tight.

If something's not right,

now's the time that we're gonna remake it.

The last thing in the world we want is a customer

to point out what we've done incorrectly.

Are the chives cut properly?

Is the dill hydrated?

Is the caviar cold enough?

Oftentimes this doubles as dinner.

And then, when that's done, we're open,

we're in it, we're in service.

Sending out an uni mushroom madai now.

Hannah, you can fire the three toasts.

Window three, Hannah, or more?

I need three toasts, but not before three minutes

'cause the mushrooms aren't ready yet.

Guys, pick up double crab.

6:00 PM, we're sort of, things are ramping up right now,

we're getting into the middle of dinner service

so we're starting to heat up a bit.

- Here's your fry.

- We're busy to the point where there's gonna be

some action, you know.

We like it, it's like the best.

- Behind you, guys.

- There's a tuna and double tatsoi leaving and

I think after that let's do, we need a crab, a trout,

and we'll do a ravioli all together.

- Merci.

You pick up one risotto. Beautiful.

Let's do everything.

- Second course, one tuna, one tartar.

We're gonna finish the double squab, both regular.

- One more so we can finish the table.

- Sounds good.

Felix do me a favor though,

just get that fingerprint right over there on the side,

thank you. Thank you.

- I mean, that's a bomb, huh? The truffle on the uni?

- That's magic for sure.

Alright so now we're doing a trout,

a ravioli and a king crab.

- I need the food I need to touch food every day.

And even if Mark has it perfectly done,

I still need to be involved and put my hands in it

and test things.

It's part of my DNA, you know?