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Simon Davies

Illinois, United States
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Chef Simon Davies grew up in California but made his way to Chicago where he spent 10 years at the city’s first and only three Michelin-starred restaurant. He takes an intellectual approach to recipe creation and is influenced by both heritage and the nutritional value of food. To Chef Davies, cooking is a way to build memorable experiences that can bridge cultures.

A talk with Simon Davies

Can you tell us about your journey as a Chef?
I originally got into cooking working at a diner during high school. Whenever my friends and I would have a party, at some point we would all get hungry and – since everyone knew I could cook – I would often prepare something for us. When that happened, the chaos of the party would subside as everyone gathered in the kitchen. For me, it was an epiphany to realise how food can bring people together, no matter what. This is why I believe cooking is a form of culture in which we can celebrate community. Through food, we can explore the history of humanity and accentuate the beauty of what the Earth has to offer. I think fundamentally this has not really changed throughout time.
How do you care for the planet from your kitchen?
I personally am very conscious about the products I purchase, especially in relation to plastic, which is something that has a major impact on me as I grew up near the California coast where we see first-hand the effects of waste on the ocean. It has always been disturbing for me to witness this around the world. When I was in Indonesia last year, I even made a short film about the trash that we saw on the beaches there in contrast to the beauty of the nature itself. I do a lot of photography, film and art outside of work – it is my second passion, which also gives me balance in life.
Why do you enjoy cooking with the onion?
Growing up, my parents worked on a biodynamic farm and I have always looked at food as a medicine. Not only is the onion packed with antioxidants, but it often starts as a foundation, as it is a key element in every stock, sauce, soup and so forth. Deeply rooted in human history, it bridges cultures as a fundamental ingredient in cooking. You find it in the globally influenced American cuisine, the first example of which comes to mind being the hamburger, where the raw onion adds a nice crunch and texture, with a bit of spice or sweetness, depending on the variety you use.
Do you recall your first glass of Krug?
My first glass of Krug was in a similar celebration, when my restaurant received 3 Michelin stars in 2010. It was the first time the Michelin guide covered Chicago and we were the only one to get 3 stars. At the time, I was quite new, so it was incredible to be part of this milestone accomplishment, which embodies the contributions of all the teams, past and present.
Ten years later, I have worked my way up the totem pole. We live in a time where people expect instant results and especially with cooking, it takes a lot of time and hard work to develop the skills necessary to be successful. Just like Krug’s craftsmanship is about giving time to the unforgettable, in the culinary world, you must be patient, love the process and learn from it rather than get frustrated.
For whom would you prepare your dream Krug pairing?
Julie Cavil and Éric Lebel. Because they are the creators of Krug Champagne. I am thrilled to be participating in this adventure with them both and curious to learn more about how Krug Champagnes are crafted. I would like to learn insights into the blending decisions and share a conversation about food in general, as well as about pairings with Krug, just like we had in India during this trip.

Crab and onion, an homage to India

  • STARTER
    2 servings
  • timing
    2 hours
  • preparation time
    2 hours
  • Cooking time
    2 hours

INGREDIENTS

STEP 1.

4 yellow onions

200 g butter, 100 ml white wine

100 ml white wine vinegar

80 g white cane sugar

STEP 2.

200 g roasted onion

500 ml water, 200 g butter

20 ml lemon juice

1,2 g xanthum gum, 8 g salt

STEP 3.

300 g crab meat, raw, 250 ml water

250 g processed crab meat

40 g lobster coral, 20 g crab roe

160 g tapioca starch, 12 g salt

STEP 4.

30 g coriander, 30 g cumin

30 g paprika,10 g fennel seeds

8 g black pepper, 20 g cardamom

10 g chilli powder

15 g yellow mustard seeds

5 g cinnamon, 4 g cinnamon leaf

5 g cloves, 25 g puffed wild rice

25 g puffed red quinoa

6 ml grapeseed oil

4 g garam masala spice, 2 g salt

STEP 5.

1 crab, 200 g onion roasting butter

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT

STEP 1. ROASTED YELLOW ONIONS AND PICKLED WHITE ONION

Wrap onions and butter in foil and roast in an oven at 180°C until dark brown. Remove onions and reserve butter for poaching crab. Cut onion into small dice. Bring the white wine, vinegar, and sugar to a boil and pour over diced onions.

 

STEP 2. ONION BUTTER EMULSION

Add all ingredients to a pot and simmer for 90 min.

 

STEP 3. CRAB CRACKERS

Mix all ingredients in a food processor, then steam in thin sheets between plastic wrap. Dehydrate until they are pliable but snap when bent. Fry at 192°C until puffed and crispy.

 

STEP 4. MASALA SPICE AND PUFFED GRAINS

Blend all of the spices together until they are a fine powder. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.

 

STEP 5. POACHED CRAB

Quickly blanch crab in boiling water as to free the meat from the shell but not cook it fully. Place crabmeat in the onion roasting butter previously reserved and poach.

 

SERVING INSTRUCTIONS

Have a small pot of water simmering. Present the larger bowl with a large spoonful of masala spice, a handful of dry ice, and decorative whole spices. Place the smaller bowl on top of the spice bowl and plate inside of it starting with the onion butter emulsion and poached crab, followed by a garnish of puffed grains, pickled onion, and crab crackers. Serve the dish and then pour simmering water into the spice bowl, releasing the aroma of masala spice into the air.

PAIRING NOTES
The caramelised butter contrasts the Champagne’s freshness, while the delicate negi notes tie in the Krug Grande Cuvée with brunoise pickled onion. The subtle saline persistence of the crab elongates its finish. The garam masala accentuates the dish, enhancing every sip with enticing Indian aromatics.
Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition

The Most Generous Expression of Champagne

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