Photo Courtesy of The LondonAt the world’s top luxury fine dining restaurants, the business of special occasion is an everyday occurrence and they’ve mastered the art of creating an unforgettable night down to a science. We were lucky enough to speak with Markus Glocker, Chef de Cuisine at Gordon Ramsay's The London NYC to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how such an evening is created.
Gordon Ramsey at The London
A new pair of high heels, a slinky black dress, a spritz of perfume and you’re on your way to a special occasion dinner. You slide into the leather booth with a cocktail already in hand and ponder over that evening’s menu. Kobe short ribs or foie gras to start? Mediterranean sea bass or Colorado rock of lamb? Or perhaps you’ll opt for the chef’s tasting menu and try all of the above? It is a special occasion after all.
The kitchen at Gordon Ramsay only serves dinner yet begins working at 8 o’clock in the morning. A prep staff comes in with each person stationed in their specialty area. The savory kitchen is divided into four areas: meat, fish, garnish and cold starters. The ingredients start arriving at the kitchen around 9am and the food preparation for the day begins. There is someone exclusively in charge of the meats who starts portioning the meats, preparing the veal, beef, and lamb as well as creates the sauces and marinades for the day’s dishes. The same goes for fish, garnishes, and starters.
As the prep work starts to wind down around 3 pm, the evening’s main staff arrives at around 4pm. The crew finishes setting up all the kitchen stations for the evening’s services, fires up the grill, puts all the finishing touches on the sauces and glazes, and finally checks that everything has been accurately portioned and is ready to go. At 5:10, just twenty minutes before the restaurant opens, Chef Glocker holds the staff meeting.
He reviews the menu for the evening and goes through all the fishes and meats in detail. The front of the house staff, which at Gordan Ramsay is comprised of only six people on the intimate dining room floor, memorizes all the flavors and ingredients for each dish and the appropriate wine pairing. This is also the meeting where everyone is briefed on any VIP guests or special occasions. Whether a birthday, an engagement or just any extra requests you might have, the entire staff is aware and prepared hours before you even arrive.
As you peruse the menu, you decide to go with the tasting menu after all. As you’re chatting with your server, he notes that today’s your anniversary, even though you didn’t make any special request in the reservation. As he brings the ticket back to the kitchen, he communicates this with Chef Glocker who notes to send two glasses of champagne and an extra dessert to the table. At Gordon Ramsay, every table’s order is brought back to the kitchen on handwritten tickets so the waiter can brief the chef on how to make the experience customized for every table.
The chef calls out that you’ve chosen to order the Menu Prestige as the tasting menu is referred to at Gordon Ramsay. Each person at their respective station knows what that means in terms of what they have to prepare. As the chef is ready to plate the food, each chef has exactly five minutes to deliver his portion of the dish to “the pass” where Chef Glocker personally plates and puts the finishing touches on every dish. Should one cook fail to deliver any portion in time, the entire dish is thrown out and the process restarts.
This is to ensure that all the food delivered to the table is served at the optimal temperature and texture. From there, the dishes are then immediately passed to the wait staff. Gordon Ramsay uses the classic French trey service in which each dish is put on treys and sent to the dining room. The captain then puts the sauces on the dishes directly at the table. The same process is repeated in the pastry kitchen.
On an average night, Gordon Ramsay can serve upwards of 600 plates to a total of 17 tables in the restaurant. In addition to the usual starter, entrée and dessert, each dinner also comes with one or more amuse bouche (bite-sized hors d'oeuvres), a pre dessert, sometimes a post dessert, and always a box of chocolates for the road.The restaurant also operates a chef’s table every night which allows for up to eight guests to dine directly in the full service kitchen.
The chef’s table features its own bespoke eight course menu crafted around the freshest ingredients of the day. In addition to a dining experience, the Chef’s table also offers the true foodie and restaurant enthusiast an interactive evening with the kitchen staff including Chef Glocker himself. This spectacular experience is $1,900 and includes dedicated staff for the table, a selection of canapés, and a bottle of Champagne upon arrival. Of course, the prize is the rare opportunity to see all the behind the scenes action up close and personal.
For more information visit TheLondonNYC.com.