Last night I had the pleasure of being able to attend an evening in San Francisco at Macy’s Union Square in their fully functioning cellar kitchen. This event was hosted by Macy’s Culinary Council and the evenings guest was Next Iron Chef Season 3 Winner and Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Marc Forgione. Marc did a few live cooking demonstrations, offered some cooking tips and chef secrets, and he also shared some of his early memories with his family as well as recent travel adventures. It was a great evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Chef Marc Forgione and sampling some of his favorite Thanksgiving recipes that are featured in the The Macy’s and Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook.
The first dish Chef Marc demonstrated for us was his Turkey Leg Roulade. He explained that while he was growing up he was a part of a very large family, and the dark meat was always his favorite. However, since the turkey only has two legs, many people may get shortchanged. So he created this dish to accompany your traditional turkey, that way your guests can have plenty dark or light meat to choose from. He showed us how to de-bone and butterfly a smaller turkey leg. He also went into a few culinary secrets here when giving us a tip on how to use “meat glue”. It’s a special ingredient called Activa, and it’s in powdered form. When rolling a butterflied piece of meat and creating a roll out of it, the activa when cooked will hold the meat in shape. Once the gravy was made, he demonstrated a technique they have termed at his restaurant, Restaurant Marc Forgione, called “making it rain.” Essentially, once the gravy is made, you drop a sprig of rosemary in it and cover it with wrap, then make sure it’s wrapped tight. The heat will form a condensation at the top and it will begin to “rain”. The rain will be infused with rosemary (or whatever herb you choose) and the gravy will take on that infused flavor. After about 40 minutes or so, once the gravy has cooled, you unwrap it and take out the sprig of rosemary. You’re left with an herb infused, delicious gravy to accompany your turkey. Genius!
Next up on the cooking demo was Marc’s Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes. As the son of famous chef Larry Forgione, Marc shared with us how Thanksgiving was always a huge deal and they had various unique dishes. One of the more traditional dishes Marc can recall from the earliest years would be Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes, and he was very happy to share and demonstrate this tasty dish for us. This dish is made with baked sweet potatoes, sour cream, pure maple syrup, as well as hazelnuts, a shallot, and parsley with butter and some seasonings. After seeing how easy this is to make, and tasting this wonderful dish I will definitely be serving this on my Thanksgiving table next week instead of my candied yams! I can see why this is one of Marc’s favorite dishes of the holidays.
To top off all of this delicious food, Marc showed us how to make this amazingly easy Honey-crisp Apple and Dried Fruit Cobbler. He describes this as a more rustic type of dessert, and says what more rustic can you get than Thanksgiving? I completely agree, and we witnessed him create the cobbler topping first, then bake it while he cut up the apples and began to cook the apples and dried fruits (cranberry, cherry, and figs) in a skillet. He says he prefers to make the apple this way, as it keeps the integrity of the natural flavors of the apple. When baking or roasting it changes the flavors a bit, and once I tasted this fabulous dish, I completely understood. This was definitely my favorite of the night, and I am absolutely looking forward to recreating it. He served the fruit in a cup, topped with the baked crumble topping, and added ice cream on top with just a dash of pepper. Amazing!
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Marc command Macy’s cellar kitchen and create delicious dishes with such ease while speaking to and sharing some of his treasured family and holiday memories with the audience. Marc shared some cooking bloopers, including one of his first kitchen jobs where he cut his finger pretty badly. They bandaged him up and sent him right back in, and it was a strong lesson in work ethic. If it doesn’t fall off, keep working! This taught him no matter what happens, fails, interrupts, to always stay focused and work hard. Marc was asked if there was any dish or types of food that are completely off limits at his restaurant. He couldn’t name anything in particular, but did say they only use farm fresh and organic ingredients of the highest quality. In regard to following recipes, Marc says “Recipes are not religion, just a guideline. Go with the flow and see what happens.” I love his casual approach to this, and that he’s open to taking a risk or two to see how it works out. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with cooking and creating dishes, and for me it’s fun. I’ve learned to take chances and not be scared to try something that might sound good in my head. When Marc was asked what his favorite type of food is, he simply stated “delicious food, done with love.” I couldn’t agree with you more, Marc!
To find the recipes that Chef Marc Forgione demonstrated, you can purchase a copy of The Macy’s and Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook.You will find recipes from Marc, as well as the 12 other chefs that make up Macy’s Culinary Council. I had a great time, and I felt it was very informative. The San Francisco Macy’s in Union Square is a gorgeous store, and everyone was so welcoming and helpful. It was a wonderful evening, and I am so thrilled that I had the opportunity to attend with Sabz, my friend of over 10 years, who also blogs at The Eclectic Grab Bag.
Chef Marc is also a part of Movember, which is a mustache growing charity event held every November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health and cancer research. Marc and his team will be matching any donations that are made towards Movember, and donating the same amount to Hurricane Sandy relief! If you would like help, you can donate here.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.