[Free stuff by Wilfrid: April 2, 2012]
"No Kitchen Required" - that's the show, BBC-America's first, original series for primetime, and a cooking show to boot. A cooking show in which manicou and gibnuts are on the meat menu, of course.
It debuts tomorrow, Tuesday April 3, at 10pm ET, and the first episode is set in Dominica. One of its New York launch events was set in a lovely brownstone, somewhere in this fair city: the setting for NY Bite Club.
While Bite Club does require a kitchen, and has never served manicou or gibnut, the Beeb apparently considered this veteran private dining club a suitably maverick setting to celebrate the project of dropping three competing chefs in a series of unfamiliar environments.
"No Kitchen Required" has the almost mandatory competitive structure of any cooking series. Three chefs - New Zealander Kayne Raymond, British-Jamaican Madison Cowan, and our own Michael Pskilakis, are given a brief opportunity to assimilate the foraging, hunting and culinary habits of an indigenous people, following which they prepare an against-the-clock meal, based on local ingredients, to be evaluated by a local jury.
Along with some other food writers, I sat down with Kayne at Bite Club to evaluate a bluefish ceviche in a plantain cup. We pronounced it good. Kayne explained the hunting and killing of the gibnut, a kind of Belize giant rat (better known as a Lowland Paca, and a cute little feller). A personality of immense charm, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Tarzan, Kayne seems to have been designed to scale mountains, hack through jungles, and dive over waterfalls, before prepping and serving the hors d'oeuvres.
A deep bowl of pozole, with plenty of pulled pork and cilantro and a chicharron on the side, had a slow spicy kick. It was followed by an empanada (I'd say, anyway, although the menu insisted on quesadilla) stuffed with huitlacoche, Oaxacan cheese and epazote.
Pipian de pollo, very slow cooked and tender, was up next, on a pumpkin seed purée, then a rich goat taco with a "goat innard" soup on the side.
This reminded me of something...I'm not sure, maybe from a distant memory the hot beef drink Bovril. It was dark and pungent, speckled with tiny pieces of liver, kidney, and...well, everything else.
The first episode of the show has the three chefs cooking dinner on a storm-swept beach on the east coast Dominica. It seemed a little unfair, as the local Kalinago people (who were clearly big fans of "Iron Chef") did seem to have devised, well, shelters as part of their civilization. But watching Psilakis stomping around, cursing the rain and clearly wishing he was on West 85th Street was priceless. Host Shini Somara, also at the Bite Club event, settles for having a bad hair day.
Flan was served with a flute of cooling horchata to finish proceedings. Cocktails were courtest Death & Co, and they certainly loosened some tongues. The "Naked and Famous" was terrific - a smoky-sweet blend of Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse and lime juice. "Southern Exposure," featuring Siembra Azul tequila, kicked up with jalapeño, was more challenging.
Was it mezcal or tequila in this take on an old-fashioned? I could be forgiven for forgetting.
You'll find much cleaner photos by that estimable lens-man J. Moran Moya at this link. Yet more lovely photos here by Alice Gao. You have the link to Bite Club here. Now let's kick back and watch nature red in tooth and claw.