12:34 a.m. at Cooks & Soldiers
Chefs at Cooks & Soldiers end every Friday night with a brief exercise, in which one person is charged with creating a dish to serve to the rest of the staff. The goal, says executive sous chef John Castellucci, is to create a platform where cooks can try new things and bridge the gap between simply being creative and actually creating.
Dishes are first paired with a wine, and here, after six tries, Nicolas Quinones settled on a 2007 Juve Y Camps Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia Cava to complement Victoria Shore’s tempura fried piquillo pepper filled with vanilla custard and served with spiced chocolate brioche and piquillo jam. Once Shore explained her inspiration for the dish, her fellow chefs chimed in, complementing the dish’s sweet-and-savory balance but critiquing its texture.