Masterchef S01 ep13: Eberhard Muller, Restaurant Bayards, [New York]
Interview with Eberhard Muller
Since I last saw you, I bought a farm and I am actively farming together with my wife and we actually supply most of the major restaurants with our vegetables in New York. Most commercial farms in the country are mono cultures or almost anywhere in the world, there are farms that grow broccoli, there are farms that grow carrots. They specialise in one or two things. Because I am a chef and I want it all, we grow everthing. When you come back this summer and taste the Heirloom Tomatoe Salad you will see why. There are 18 different varieties of tomatoes, of flavours, of texture components that I can play with.
KM: What is Bayard?
Well it is a restaurant in reality that is located in a mansion that was built in
1851 as the first Hanover Bank. It is an 18,000 square foot building of three
floors, has all the original architecture and it is an historical treasure.
I am German by birth but I cooked in Germany and in France for six years in
Paris. I was cooking in a restaurant called Archistraat that was run by Alain
Senderens and I was their Sous Chef in the 70's.
Senderens was a very important step obviously in my career, in my
professional career. He had an innate understanding of ingredients and how to
prepare them. He came up 25 years ago with a dish of Lobster with Vanilla
sauce. He gave me the ability of tasting food and pairing it with something, that
is not necessarily in the box. And a lot of things that I have done in the past
are rather unorthodox.
I came with Senderens to New York in 1981. We did a Gastronomic week or
two weeks up at Windows on the World and the Cellar in the Sky and the guy
who ran Window's was a German from Munich and he basically offered me a
job on the spot, and I worked for them for three and a half years.
Senderens calls me and says listen, do you want to meet with Gilbert Lagose?
And I said why? Well he is opening a Bernardine in New York City, you should
meet with him. And I said, o.k. I'll meet with them and see what happens, and I
mean the rest is history, and I spent the next 6 years with Gilbert in his
KM: What was Gilbert like compared to the others?
Le Bernardine was a very well established Fish Restaurant in France, and he
came here with a reputation and he had no reputation to gain he had only one
KM: Got you.
O.K. so what we did had to be at least as good as what he had in Paris if not
better. And I maintain today that the restaurant in New York was absolutely
better than the one in Paris. This was a totally new generation of a restaurant
that we opened there in 1986 and it was completely different from whatever
anybody else had seen here.
Andre Soltner from Lutece was in the process of selling his restaurant Lutece
to Arc Restaurants and Mighty Wine Scene and Andre Soltner came to me
and said, hey we hear that your back in the city do you want to run Lutece?
And I said to myself you know you are crazy to do this, but then they made it
attractive enough for me to say O.K. I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.
So I ran Lutece for six years.
What I see for American food at the moment, where it is actually heading, it is
very, very high end, very good ingredients - it is not necessarily foie gras, but
products which people would not have eaten five years ago or ten years ago,
prepared very honestly.
Everyone of my cooks for the last 15 years I have always told them - I don't
care how it looks in the moment, I want it to have flavour first, taste first, taste
and texture and then we look at the presentation. And if we need a
presentation we create one, we come up with one. Some food automatically
needs to be presented in its most natural state.
KM: I am sort of visually seeing the world now in chefing and one line is the
purist line and it is what you are talking about in produce right?
KM: and then the other line is where the Spanish are going, and people like
Garnier are going - the harmony
But that is the cubist o.k.
KM: Ah o.k.
Those are the cubists
KM: So you are the first modernist?
I don't know if you know that since I last saw you bought a farm and I am
actively farming together with my wife and we actually supply most of the
major restaurants with our vegetables in New York.
KM: How big is the farm?
Most commercial farms in the country are mono cultures or almost anywhere
in the world, there are farms that grow broccoli, there are farms that grow
carrots. They specialise in one or two things, o.k. what we do, because I am a
chef and I want it all, we grow everything. We have 18 different varieties of
tomatoes, which we have seeded.
KM: But why do you have 18 different varieties?
Because there are 18 different flavours and texture components I can play
with. Come back this summer and taste the Heirloom Tomatoe Salad and you
will see why.
There are 18 different varieties of tomatoes of flavours, of texture components
that I can play with and colours o.k. We don't grow one variety of carrots, we
grow 7 or 8 different varieties of carrots and we do this because not every dish
should look or taste the same - there are certain carrots that I will use in a
certain dish and there are other carrots that I will use in another dish. It makes
total sense. And guess what the chefs have been looking for that for a long
time because occasionally you could get this or occasionally you could get that
or occasionally you could get a little bit of it. I spent the last 20 years in this
country looking for ingredients o.k. This did not start not only with Gilbert, we
looked for fish and seafood, and olive oil and vinegars and god knows what.
And you know what sauces dry up and it is a constant battle and for the rest of
the time I am going to be cooking in this city I at least have got to have a
constant supply of vegetables from my own farm.
We are very serious people down here, it is not like Up Town you know all
these floozy people uptown ....
KM: Yeah, yeah....
We are very business oriented, this is after all Wall Street, there are a lot of
business deals being made during lunch or dinner hours and you know you
can't hit them over the head with fancy food, they want to have... the food is
not centre stage. They want the food to be good. Then again it has to be
good and consistent.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Eberhard Muller, Restaurant Bayards, [New York]