I recently got the chance to spend some time with Jason Franey, Executive Chef at Canlis, who is showing this year at Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE in Aspen next week. I tried out one of his dishes for the Best New Chefs event at Food and Wine Aspen, a foie gras torchon that is going to knock your socks off with its contrast of velvety foie gras and pickled red onions. For more information on his menu, the Canlis revamp, and where he’s going next, read on.
Jessica Tupper: Can you tell me about the dish you made today that’s from the Food & Wine menu?
Jason Franey: It’s a foie gras torchon. Basically it’s cured foie gras that we’ve wrapped into a torchon and seared very quickly, just to infuse the flavors a little bit. The garnish is celery, onions, and cherries – we have a cherry puree underneath; a sauternes gel, which is the clear gel; we have raw, blanched celery, also celery leaves. We have pickled red onion, candied pistachios, and whole pickled cherries, and then it’s finished with celery powder that we’ve made an oil out of and mixed a little maltodextrin in to make a powder. When you eat it it goes back to oil form.
We serve with it brioche.
JT: I saw in the Caviar Blog interview that you described Canlis as “comfort geek.” How are you translating that for Aspen?
JF: Comfort geek is a term that we coined when I first started here about the cuisine because with change a lot of people are scared, so you have to do it delicately. I’m a contemporary technical chef, and what we try to do is we try to be both comfortable and technical at the same time – we don’t want the technique to be up front, we want the comfort. Also, the technique, the geeked out version, is still there for the foodie. With Canlis being so dynamic with their guests, you have to cater to that.
JT: Were you able to collaborate with anyone?
JF: This is basically what I wanted to do for the menu. They asked for six dishes from the four different chefs, and Didier [Elena], who used to work for Alain Ducasse, he picks from the 24 different dishes to put together a menu which makes sense.
They asked for your signature dish or something that’s going to tell about your style of cooking. The dishes aren’t all crazy new; there might be some new flavors but the same techniques. We’re trying to show what we do here at the restaurant.
JT: The Canlis menu recently got revamped; how has it been working out with diners?
JF: It’s going over a lot better than we thought. We thought that the guests were gonna have a lot more issues with it, but we are working out more on our side, trying to figure out how to do service – we thought guests would have more of a problem, but they don’t.
JT: Where are you and Canlis heading next?
JF: I just want to stay relevant, I want to cook with great ingredients and respect them.