Mysterious Neal Bouvier

The name of Neal Bouvier is known very little among ordinary people. But for the chosen and privileged ones that name sounds a lot since many representatives of the elite are fans of his works of sweet art.

He does not have his page on social networks or his photos on the Internet, he hardly talks to people and never talks to journalists. He is a very reserved person, self-absorbed, even strange. Few persons who had a chance to talk to Neal say that it is very difficult to communicate with him. And even the great fans of his works don’t know what he looks like. They say that after his divorce he does not want to take pictures of himself and doesn’t let unknown people see his face.

Sounds very mysterious, doesn’t it? But the truth is that this man can afford any caprice because he makes true works of art of his desserts. Everyone who has tasted their delights says it is the best they have eaten in their life. Although it is not possible to speak with many of its clients – the elite usually keeps secret the details of their big parties, for which they hire Neal, who makes cakes, which look more like the sculptures of a museum, for these events.

There are even rumors that the wedding cake of the Prince of Britain was also his work. We do not know it in fact, but you can believe it because it is difficult to find the professional of equal level for such a big event.

When we tried to find some details of his biography, we discovered that he began to gain fame a few years ago, when he lived in Barcelona and worked in a restaurant as a pastry chef. We have even found people who say, they have tried his churros, which were then sold on the Rambla!

It is also known about this mysterious man that he was born in France, in a small village near Marseilles, and began his career as a baker’s assistant. Now it is very difficult to believe that. But it can be concluded that if he managed to get so much starting from nothing, he is certainly not only a very talented man but also very strong and decisive.

They say that one of Neal’s most original desserts is called “Pavlova Swan”. It was inspired by the Russian dancer Pavlova her representation of the swan. The unusualness of this dessert is that it has to be eaten very fast, or “it dies”, like this famous swan in ballet.

I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to taste something of this chef’s delights. And much mystery around his figure only arouses my interest. Who knows, maybe someday we can see his face or try something of his dishes in a restaurant opened for ordinary people, and not just for the celebrities?

For now,  he at least deserves to be mentioned in our blog about the most talented bakers in the world.

As you understand, it is rather difficult to find the recipe of some dessert of a chef who loves secrets so much. But we managed to find the recipe that is close to his chocolate tart, as people who tasted it say.

Here is it. Enjoy!

No-Bake Chocolate Tart

Ingredients

Oreo Crust:

  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/56 g) butter, melted

Ganache filling:

  • 170 g (1 cup) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 170 g  (1 cup) coarsely chopped milk chocolate
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick/56 g) butter, cut into small pieces

 

Instructions

    • To make the crust: Pulse Oreo cookies, with filling, in a food processor until finely ground. Put crumbs to a medium bowl, put there melted butter, and mix it. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan. Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    • To make the filling: In a medium heatproof bowl, place chopped bittersweet and milk chocolate. In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil heavy cream and butter. Remove from the heat and pour mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until it is melted and smooth. Pour mixture over chilled Oreo crust and refrigerate it at least 4 hours but better 6.

Seiji Yamamoto

Seiji Yamamoto was born in Japan’s Kagawa prefecture in 1970, he is currently proclaimed as one of Tokyo’s finest gourmet specialists, being a representative of the traditional Japanese cooking at 3 Michelin star restaurant “Nihon Ryori Ryugin”. His cooking is a combination of sophisticated flavors, his personal skills with clever ideas, based on the tradition of the local cuisine. Seiji Yamamoto uses as many endemic Japanese ingredients as possible to please his guests.

His restaurant is small and cozy, being clean and simple at the same time. It offers a comfortable setting helping guests to enjoy their dishes, which are based mostly on seasonal, local Japanese ingredients. The restaurant was established by Yamamoto in 2003 in Roppongi, Tokyo. Thanks to its’ successful performance Yamamoto has become popular not only as a chef but also as a cooking consultant welcomed in many restaurants around the world.  

In 2014 “Shoun Ryugin” was established in Taiwan, following the first branch “Tenku Ryugin”, which was opened up by Yamamoto in Hong Kong in 2012. This is just another step in Yamamoto’s strategy to disseminate the traditional Japanese cuisine in the world.  

Signature dish:  

MATSUBA CRAB FROM SAN-IN AND MATSUTAKE MUSHROOMS IN SHABU-SHABU HOT POT  

serves 2 to 6 people

Ingredients:

  • Matsuba crab, live, from San-I
  • Japanese Matsutake mushrooms
  • Yuzu citrus  
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Ito mitsuba stem
  • Kombu kelp  
  • Japanese Sake
  • Soy sauce

Method:

  • Cut the matsutake mushrooms.  
  • Cut the Yuzu citrus.
  • Remove the leg from living Matsuba crab.
  • Steam the body and remove the flesh.  
  • Wrap the flesh in the Chinese cabbage and tie with the Mitsuba stem.
  • Blanch the leg and remove from the shell.
  • Prepare a dashi with the shell of the crab, water, Japanese sake and kombu kelp.  
  • Season with the soy sauce.  
  • In an individual hot pot, place the matsutake mushrooms, yuzu, the crab flesh wrapped in Chinese cabbage and add the dashi.  
  • Cook the leg in a shabu-shabu style, by boiling it lightly before serving with the rest of the dish.  

Note: There are no measurements in the recipe since in Seiji’s cuisine, the ingredients are different every day. Depending on the characteristics of each product, different quantities of the ingredients are used to adjust the balance of the dish.  

Vladimir Mukhin

Vlad Mukhin is a Russian chef, the vice-champion of the S. Pellegrino Cooking Cup (2013), chef of the restaurant “White Rabbit” in Moscow.

His “White Rabbit” entered the list of 100 best restaurants in the world in 2014 rising rapidly from its 71st place in 2014 to 23rd in 2015. In 2016, at the award in New York, “White Rabbit” took the 18th place in the ranking, becoming the first Russian restaurant in the top twenty. In 2017 “White Rabbit” is 23rd again.  

Vladimir Mukhin is purporting to become a reformer, if not a revolutionary, adjusting the basics of contemporary Russian cuisine.  Some would think he is young and reckless, but his broad experience in different restaurants makes him even more skillful and wiser than some lads being twice as old as he.  

He is experimenting with traditional Russian products like borodinsky black bread, meeting in his cooking more sophisticated ingredients like caviar in order to create innovative dishes. Standouts include rabbit and mini cabbage rolls in foie gras with potato crisps and truffle juice as well as roast suckling pig and Black Sea oysters.

Known as much for his use of local, seasonal ingredients as for his charisma, Mukhin is making international waves and recently appeared in the 2017 series of Netflix’s Chef’s Table.  

Mukhin comes from a long line of cooks. He began his career in 12, practicing at the very same kitchen with his father. He studied cooking in his University, getting apprenticeships in various restaurants of Moscow. Mukhin did really well there, therefore became the chef of Bulochnaya cafe in 2003.  

“White Rabbit” had already been famous in Moscow by the time they invited Mukhin to become their chef. They desperately needed someone to contribute fresh ideas into the long-dormant cooking of Moscow. Together they began to grow as fast as possible in the cooking art world. Now both Mukhin and his restaurant are the most promising phenomena happening to Moscow’s fine cooking.  

Traditional borscht recipe (Mukhin hasn’t shared his signature recipes yet):  

Ingredients for Borscht with Meat:

(This list looks lengthy but the ingredients are simple)  

1 lb Beef: sirloin, stew meat, or whatever kind of beef you like, really (bone-in or boneless *see note)

14 cups cold water

1 Tbsp salt + more to taste

2 large or 3 medium beets, washed, peeled and grated

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp tomato sauce, or paste (or 3 Tbsp ketchup)

1 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 carrots, grated

2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces

1/2 head of small cabbage, sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced (**see note)

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley + more for garnish

2 cloves garlic, pressed

Garnish: Sour cream and fresh sprigs of parsley or dill.

How To Make Borscht with Meat:

Wash meat in cold water, cut into 1″ pieces and place in a large soup pot with 14 cups cold water and 1 Tbsp salt. Bring it to a boil and remove the foam crud as soon as it boils (if you wait, it will be hard to get rid of the crud as it integrates into the broth and you’d have to strain it).

Lower the heat, partially cover and cook at a low boil 45 minutes – 1 hr, periodically skimming off any crud that rises to the top.  

Grate beets on the large grater holes (the food processor works amazingly well). Place them in a large heavy-bottom skillet with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar and saute for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to med/low and add 1 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato sauce Mix thoroughly and saute until starting to soften, stirring occasionally (about 10 min). Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to wash it), Saute onion in 1 Tbsp butter for 2 min. Add grated carrot and saute another 5 min or until softened, adding more oil if it seems too dry.

Once the meat has been cooking at least 45 min, place sliced potatoes into the soup pot and cook 10 min, then add cabbage, sauteed beets, onion & carrot, and chopped tomatoes. Cook another 10 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.

Add 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp pepper, and more salt to taste (I added another 1/2 tsp salt).

Antonio Bachour

Antonio was born in Puerto Rico, and since he was very young he became to interest in the art of pastry. All his childhood he spent in his family’s bakery.

 

In 2001 he moved to Miami Beach to become an executive pastry chef at Taula. Then he worked at  Devito South Beach and Scarpetta in New York City and Miami.

In 2011 Antonio Bachour was selected as one of “Top 10 Pastry Chefs” in the United States by the Dessert Professional magazine. In this year he also participated and was in the final of the International Chef Congress Pastry Competition.  

For now,  Bachour is the executive pastry chef at St. Regis Bal Harbour Hotel.  

Antonio Bachour has published three books, he travels all over the world with his master-class. and also he is very active in social networks.  

He has many of his recipes published, so it is one of them. Try it, you won’t regret!

Sheep’s Yogurt Panna Cotta

Ingredients:

  • 448 g heavy cream
  • 224 g granulated sugar
  • 5 gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 756 g sheep’s yogurt

Steps

Soak gelatin in ice water until softened; squeeze out excess water and set aside

Heat the cream with sugar in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Stir in yogurt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate the panna cotta until set, about 8 hours

Berry Fluid Gel:

Ingredients:

  • 168 g strawberry pure
  • 168 g raspberry puree
  • 168 g cherry puree
  • 5 g agar agar 
  • 112 g granulated sugar

 

Steps:

Boil purees, agar and sugar in a small pot. Refrigerate until cool before processing in a blender until creamy and smooth. (To get a shinier texture, you can add a little of the puree while processing in the blender.) Pour into a plastic bottle for assembly.

 

Lime Cremeux:

Ingredients:

  • 2 gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 15.8 oz/448 g heavy cream
  • 4 oz/112 g granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime

Steps:

Soak gelatin in ice water until softened; squeeze out excess water and set aside.

Heat cream with the sugar, lime juice, and zest. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin to dissolve. Cool cream over an ice bath and whisk to thicken. Refrigerate for 12 hours before whipping in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until stiff. Put into a pastry bag for assembly.

Berry Sorbet:

Ingredients:

  • 380 g water
  • 280 g granulated sugar
  • 4 g sorbet stabilizer
  • 100 g atomized glucose
  • 252 g raspberry puree
  • 252 g strawberry puree 
  • 252 g cherry puree
  • 14 g lemon juice

Steps:

Warm the water to 104ºF, then add the sugar, glucose, stabilizer and let it boil. Strain and refrigerate to cool. Combine with purees and lemon juice before processing in an ice cream machine.

Assembly:

  • Assorted berries
  • Edible flowers and herbs

Plate the panna cotta. Pipe Lime Cremeux on the left side of the plate and place berries on top. Place a quenelle of Berry Sorbet on the center of the plate. Garnish with Berry Fluid Gel. You can add edible flowers and herbs before serving.