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This isn't very fun for either of us, is it?

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Jamon Serrano Consommé by Bradley Kilgore

Kilgore Porthole ConsomméPhoto by Michelle Demuth-Bibb | The Chef's Garden

Our favorite fine dining memories are often built on unexpected moments. Last fall, I had this experience at the Roots Innovate conference Grand Dinner.

Immersed in a web of banquet tables, I noticed a long line of servers filter into the crowd displaying Portholes on trays. As they approached, an infused consommé was revealed with an unusual ingredient: pine cones. The servers then poured the consommé over a salad, transforming the seaweed element from a delicate, paper-like quality to a semi-solid that conformed to the other ingredients’ shapes. The drama of the physical change gathered gasps from every guest.

Months later, I am still thinking about this dish and wanted to share the moment in a tangible way. I reached out to Executive Chef Bradley Kilgore who described his thought process behind the dish. Enjoy the Q&A below!

Kate Sysavathly, Crucial Detail 


Tree Salad by Bradley KilgorePhoto by Michelle Demuth-Bibb | The Chef's Garden

Question and Answer with Bradley Kilgore

What came first? Did your thought process start with the Porthole, the pine cones, or the physical transformation of the salad?
The dish was called “the tree”. I had just returned from a trip to Japan and wanted to reproduce some of the weeping willow trees I had seen there. The Jamon Serrano consommé needed another level of flavor to it, and that’s when the porthole came in as the finishing aspect.

Pine Cones in the Porthole; where did that idea come from?
I really wanted the dish to reflect some of the territory of The Chefs Gardens Surroundings. One of the components was a powder of fermented young spruce tips. Once I got to the farm I went directly towards the trees around Farmer Lee's house, and that’s when the connection was made.

How are pine cones harvested?
We literally picked them up from around Farmer Lees house and the CVI. You have no idea how hard these things can be. We needed to cut them down a bit to fit into the portholes and there were some chefs (Big Guys) that had to use bolt cutters to cut through them!!

Several courses were served, each by a different chef working with kitchen staff from around the country. How did you accomplish preparing the pinecone consommé in 30 Portholes expediently?
It wasn’t easy to time everything, but luckily we had some excellent help from everyone. But there was no way I was going to get it done right without chef Jamie Simpson from CVI. I showed him the Porthole Consommé vision, and he made it happen while I plated the mushroom tree with the rest of the team.

Do you set a goal for all your dishes to be an unexpected experience?

Porthole Consommé Assembly

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