Rencontre avec Natasha Pickowicz et Paul Wetzel


19 Jan 2015


Le Labo culinaire est fier d’annoncer le lancement de ses événements culinaires créatifs, Le Labo culinaire invite ... , une série de soupers uniques qui jumellent nos chefs Michelle Marek et Seth Gabrielse à des invités spéciaux reconnus sur la scène mondiale de la jeune cuisine.

Tandis que les deux chefs new-yorkais, Natasha Pickowicz et Paul Wetzel, ouvriront les festivités et seront de passage à la SAT pour la première soirée Le Labo culinaire invite..., nous leurs avons posés quelques questions.


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Voir la page du Labo culinaire

What inspire you right now in your « cuisine » ?

Paul : Right now the most inspiring thing for me is researching food history. we are also very lucky to have so many culinary influences in New York.

Natasha : It's so easy to get caught up in what all the restaurants and chefs are doing in the city, but I try to focus on what inspires me -- beautiful ingredients like ripe blood oranges from Italy, or timeless, witty writers like Richard Olney. I like to think of pastry as being voluptuous and vital. Nothing too fussy or thought-out. Sometimes that seems like an uncool way to do things in New York, where everything is so technically perfect and constructed and striking. Right now all I want to make are things that feel rustic, sincere, and elegant.

Paul's tremendous 14 month aged culatello, made with happy pigs from Raven & Boar. Just one of the killer treats they are bringing to Montreal for this special one night dinner.

Paul, je sais que tu te spécialises en charcuterie chez Gramercy’s, et que tu as aussi participé au livre du charcutier François Vecchio qui porte sur le sujet - d’où te vient cette passion ?

Paul : Voici en partie d’où vient mon amour pour la charcuterie et le salumi*: les deux sont ancrés dans l’histoire de la préservation alimentaire. J’ai grandi sur une ferme, et on abattait tous nos animaux nous-mêmes. C’était important de ne perdre aucune partie de la nourriture qu’on élevait, et la charcuterie nous permet non seulement d’utiliser toutes les parties d’un animal, mais aussi de les rendre bien plus délicieuses qu’elles l’auraient été mangées seules.

*charcuteries italiennes (prosciutto, bresaola, salami, mortadelle, etc.)


How do you know Michelle and Seth ?

Natasha : I am proud to say that Michelle is a wonderful friend. We met when I moved to Montreal in 2010, and we've collaborated on so many crazy events over the years. When I was the baker at Dépanneur Le Pick Up, I had this idea to start a series of culinary workshops. Michelle was our first guest chef, and the topic was candied fruits -- I bet everyone still remembers her beautiful stollen and legendary chewy ginger cookies. I love being in her world and soaking up her style, which is so classic, simple, and delicious. She once made me a stunning apple charlotte -- that I requested when I was going through my heavy Downton Abbey obsession -- for my birthday. That's just one example of how generous, curious, and cool she is.


Natasha, can you talk about the difference between working in a Montreal and New York kitchen? Why did you move?

Natasha : I went on a patisserie stage at Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg, Brooklyn when Lawrence, the restaurant where I used to work, was on its summer break. Even though I wasn't looking to move, I had a pretty immediate connection with Marlow's pastry chef. When she offered me a job, I didn't hesitate. It was so empowering. I used to come to New York a lot to visit friends and go to concerts, but I'd swore I'd never live here. It felt so intimidating and overwhelming, especially compared to the familiarity and closeness of being in Montreal. But the amazing thing about working in restaurants is that it creates its own little chatty community, even in huge place like New York. People are constantly eating out and seeing each other's work. Everyone is so open and involved and willing to give feedback and support. There's a real sense of curiosity and engagement here - exploring markets, trying new restaurants, making day trips to obscure spots.


What are you the most excited about cooking at Foodlab with Michelle and Seth ?

Paul : I visited Montreal for the first time with Natasha this summer, we had some really great meals while we were there -- especially at the Food Lab, so it will be really exciting to come back and cook with Michelle, Seth, and their team.

Natasha :Making a dessert for Michelle, in her kitchen, is exciting and nerve wracking. The dish is inspired by Quebecois winter. In a perverse way, I miss the severity and intensity of it. I always felt so tough when it was over. I wanted to do something simple and French, so the dessert is a twist on classic oeufs a la neige - floating meringue icebergs drifting on the chilly blue ocean, little slivers of tart citrus like bright lifesavers.

Spiruline, betterave, safran, ortie, curcuma, chou, hibiscus...Voici quelques plantes avec lesquelles Natasha a jouée pour la création de colorants naturels utilisés pour son "workshop" de décoration de cookie à Foragers NYC.

Des projets bientôt dont vous voulez nous parler ?

Paul : En mars je vais assister mon mentor François Vecchio lors d’un atelier sur le salumi qu’il enseignera à Glynnwood. L’objectif c’est d’aider les agriculteurs à fabriquer des produits à valeur ajoutée pour leur permettre d’avoir une entreprise plus rentable.

Natasha :Foragers a le don de créer un environnement qui encourage les échanges avec la communauté en dehors du contexte de « restaurant » typique. C’est un endroit assez unique. Plus tôt cet hiver, j’ai accueilli un atelier extrêmement inspirant sur les teintures comestibles tirées des aliments, avec le Textile Arts Center de New York, et on espère pouvoir faire encore d’autres collaborations en pâtisserie avec eux en 2015. Je vais aussi donner un atelier chez le Brooklyn’s Edible Schoolyard Project (« Projet de cours d’école comestible de Brooklyn »), qui donne des habiletés aux enfants et aux parents pour leur permettre de créer de nouveaux futurs en alimentation via l’éducation alimentaire.