Holiday Classics with a Twist
by Bill Babash, Vice Chargé de Presse
The first snowfall of the season set a lovely winter scene for the Bailliage of Greater Washington, DC, to celebrate the holidays. Over 40 members and guests gathered on Zoom on December 16, 2020 to enjoy a spectacular six-course delivered dinner created by Chef Aaron Silverman and Chef Scott Muns – the Michelin-starred team behind Rose’s Luxury and Pineapple and Pearls in Washington.
Chef Aaron Silverman grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland and received his degree in Accounting, Small Business Management, and Political Science from Northeastern University in Boston. After a time in auditing at a major accounting firm he realized he was “pretty miserable” and pursued his interest in cuisine. He did a stage at 2941 in Falls Church, Virginia, under Chef Jonathan Krinn, which led him to L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, from which he graduated in 2004.
Chef Silverman opened Rose’s Luxury in October 2013 and Bon Appétit named it the Best New Restaurant in the country the following August. He opened Pineapple and Pearls in 2016, the same year he was named Best Chef Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation and Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine. In 2017, Rose’s Luxury earned one Michelin star and Pineapple and Pearls earned two – honors they have held since.
Chef Scott Muns, a native of Texas, began his culinary career after originally planning to pursue music (he played the euphonium). After graduation from culinary school in 2005, he cooked with Chefs Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson at 2941 (where Silverman was also interning at the time) and Krinn’s Inox in McLean, Virginia. He then joined Chef Bryan Voltaggio at his new restaurant in Fredrick, Maryland, where he became Chef de Cuisine. His resume includes work at Per Se in New York with Chef Thomas Keller, and at Geranium in Copenhagen with Chef Rasmus Koefoed.
In 2013, Chef Muns joined Chef Silverman to open Rose’s Luxury. From 2015 to 2019, he was head chef at Pineapple and Pearls, when it earned (and retained) its two Michelin stars. In 2019, he was a finalist at the Bocuse d’Or USA National Selection. Currently, Chef Muns is head of research and development for all of Rose’s Restaurant Group, a position in which he innovates dishes for the group’s restaurant and mentors younger chefs.
The snow did not stop Rose’s at Home drivers from delivering the holiday extravaganza to 35 locations in the DC area the afternoon of the event. The delivery included each element of the dinner carefully packaged, along with detailed instructions that allowed participants to recreate a Michelin-caliber dinner at home. The delivery also included a bottle of Champagne and a bottle of red wine from the bailliages wine cellar, expertly selected for each participant by Vice Échanson Ellen Kirsh.
That evening, Bailli Judy Mazza welcomed the participants, with a special welcome to Bailli Délégué des États-Unis Bertrand de Boutray (the Chaîne national president), who joined the Zoom session from Seattle. Chefs Silverman then introduced Chef Muns, noting that the evening’s menu was Muns’ brainchild.
Working from his home kitchen, Chef Muns led the group in transforming the afternoon’s delivery into an extraordinary six-course dinner. He began by introducing the hors d’oeuvres: Gougères were delivered with pimento cheese and caramel onion puree in tiny piping bags that allowed participants to fill the crusty yet delicate bites. Velvety “Blue Ribbon” bone marrow custard was presented in an eggshell, finished with Maldon salt, red onion jam, and fried brioche and shallots that amplified the flavor of the custard and added a bit of crunch. A grayson cheese tart featured cheese from Meadow Creek dairy in southern Virginia and was completed with brussels sprout leaves, flakes of Maldon salt, and a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil.
The first course was a live scallop crudo with celery root puree and preserved lemon. Slices of perfectly fresh East Coast scallop rested on a luxurious purée of celery root, garlic, and cream. A most interesting ingredient in the purée is the pith of lemon rind that the chef boils and cooks with sugar, transforming a bitter ingredient into a floral addition with a hint of sweetness. Preserved lemon, lemon oil, Maldon salt and curls of fresh chives completed the dish, which was extravagantly presented on a large scallop shell.
Brioche Parker House rolls, elevated with cultured caviar butter, were the next treat. White sturgeon caviar and creamy butter on the pillowy brioche was simply luxurious. The chef preferred the slightly stronger flavor of the white sturgeon caviar with the brioche, noting that a milder Osetra would not have stood up as well in the combination.
Chef Muns’ fish course was amazing. A filet of halibut had been gently steamed with white wine, garlic, and shallots. It was served with vermicelli, bok choy, mushrooms, scallions, and broth made from halibut bones, mussels, white wine, and curry paste. The chef had made the curry paste in May, and it had been fermenting since. Fried vermicelli noodles with togarashi, a spicy Japanese seasoning made from dried red chilis, added a final bit of crunch and flavor. Vice Échanson Ellen Kirsh noted that either the Champagne – always a good choice with fish – or the red wine – great with the curry flavors – would pair nicely with this phenomenal dish. Her recommendation was to enjoy both and appreciate how each complemented the dish.
Next was the smoked boneless lamb shoulder crusted in a spice mix that included coriander, fennel, mustard, black pepper, cumin, star anise, allspice, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon. Participants seared the lamb in a hot pan then finished heating it in the oven. While the meat rested, they seared roasted potatoes, pearl onions, leeks, and bacon and built a sauce with lamb jus seasoned with preserved lemon, shallots, garlic, rosemary, the spice blend, and finished with butter. It was a great winter dish – hearty and bursting with sophisticated and nuanced flavor.
A wonderful cheese course followed. La Tur, a soft-ripened cheese made from a blend of sheep, cow, and goat milk produced in the Alta Lange region of Piemonte in Italy, was served with crispy grilled focaccia. A drizzle of honey that the chef had steeped with nasturtium for over a year accented the grassy notes and slight tang of the cheese and contrasted nicely with the bitterness of the char on the bread.
For dessert, Chef Muns created his version of the classic pavlova. His meringue was delightfully crisp on the outside with a light interior, and was delicious with lemon curd, lychee, huckleberries, and toasted coconut – flavors that the chef noted shared an intriguing undertone of elderflower.
The chef concluded the dinner with mignardise – a green tea and toasted rice flavored pâte de fruit; sesame seed brittle; pineapple hard candy; and a peppermint chocolate bonbon that the chef shared was inspired by a peppermint patty, his mother’s favorite.
The bailliage was delighted and honored to have Chef Muns create its holiday dinner and spend the evening with us. While the venue was Zoom and no one was in black tie as is the tradition for the annual festive gathering, it was absolutely a gala event. Chef Muns’ exquisite cuisine and expert coaching enabled everyone enjoy Michelin-caliber cuisine in the comfort and safety of their own homes.