Monday, July 18, 2011

Food Follows Me Everywhere!

On a recent trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I viewed the Alexander McQueen "Savage Beauty" exhibit. At first, I didn't understand the hype. After all, the line was more than an hour long (Where are we anyway? Disneyland?). The people in line were all tourists. (Yuck!) And, worst of all, I hadn't eaten yet! 

At the entrance, there were "bouncers" dressed in all-black suits with matching ties. This reminded me of the time when we were invited by our friend, Judy (the fashion designer), to the Anna Sui show at Bryant Park. It was the first time I'd ever seen anything like it. Everyone was dressed as if they'd stepped out of the pages of Vogue or InStyle. Paparazzi and fashion writers were scattered amongst the crowd ogling every fabulous outfit in the tents. Although, the Alexander McQueen exhibit on the day that I attended was far less glamorous than the Anna Sui show, you still could feel the aura of the fashion Gods inside the stoic museum walls.  

When I first walked into the exhibit, I was stopped in my tracks. Before me stood a dress constructed completely out of razor clam shells. I stood there with my mouth gaping open. As a line cook, I cleaned and cooked razor clams everyday for two months. We'd place the live clams in a deep 1/2 hotel pan in one of the prep sinks. After thoroughly rinsing the clams with cold salty water, you'd leave them submerged. Once all settled in, the clams would creep out of their shells. They looked like elongated alien fingers. 

Right before service started, we'd get a rondeau pot sweat out some shallots and garlic. Deglaze the pan with white wine, add thyme, peppercorns and bay leaves, then throw the razor clams straight in. Since there was never a lid large enough, we'd use a sheet tray. After a few minutes passed, we'd take the cover off and the briny steam billowed out, releasing the most fragrant smells of the ocean. I'd meticulously take the beautifully cooked clams out of their shells with a pair of kitchen scissors. We then cut up the clams into bit-sized pieces and threw them into our pasta appetizer garnished with circle-punched piquillo peppers and topped with a Parmesan foam. 

During my time in the kitchen, the razor clam shells always went into the compost bin. As I stood in front of McQueen's creation, I couldn't help but, think: Trash for us is treasure for McQueen. He created clothes that mimicked the natural progression of life making him somewhat of a black sheep. Since fashion is an industry that makes billions off of selling the idea of youth. McQueen blatantly (and un-apologetically) reminds us all that everything -- even us -- has an end.    

BIG TIP: We discovered (since I had some tourists in tow) that if you pay $60 for an out-of-state membership, you're guaranteed to jump the line. Well worth it, since especially in Manhattan, an 1 hour wait feels like an eternity.

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