Chances are it has something to do with the elegant cooking of one Bryce Shuman, an Eleven Madison Park disciple who struck out on his own to open the impossibly ornate Midtown restaurant. Shuman recently chatted with us about his five essential kitchen "tools" and how he uses them in the restaurant, so you can pick up a few tips for your own kitchen.
Cake Tester: The tiny pinprick end of the tester is used to test the doneness of vegetables, fish and meat. For one dish, Shuman uses it to see if his poached tilefish is cooked properly by sliding the tester in and checking the resistance. It's also used on the dish's half-moons of kohlrabi. Shuman uses it for fine adjustments, too, like moving a single chive fleck on a plate. And who knew that cake testers, a dime a dozen in most kitchens, are a status symbol? "If you have one of the old metal spirals, you're an OG."
Circulator (left) and stainless steel pipes (right)
Circulator: The sous-vide machine is all about total control and even cooking. "I can poach lobster perfectly from one end to the other, or slow-cook chicken in rendered chicken fat." Shuman also uses the machine to caramelize white chocolate for a dessert, leaving it in for seven to eight hours to brown.
Stainless Steel Pipes: One of Betony's new hors d'oeuvres is a rather luxe take on the lobster roll, in which thin cigarettes of fried dough are filled with lobster salad and lobster Bavarian creme, served atop house-made salt and vinegar potato chips and persillade. The pipes are used to shape the rolls--and, P.S., they're from Home Depot.
Yakitori grill (left) and tamis with pastry card (right)
Yakitori Grill: Unlike traditional grills, "the Binchotan charcoal burns very clean. The only smoke is from the fat renderings hitting the charcoal and exploding up with flavor." If you're going to get one for yourself (you could fit one on a fire escape), Shuman recommends replacing the grates with those from a Charbroil grill—he swiped his grates from Betony's general manager Eamon Rockey this Fourth of July.
Tamis and Pastry Card: By pushing purees through the tamis--a drum sieve with a finer grate than a chinois, almost a silkscreen--with a pastry card, you can get "the smoothest, finest texture. For the greatest mashed potatoes you've ever had, you need this tamis. And the only place that sells it is Korin."