Recently we discovered that Rezaz, a Mediterranean restaurant and one of our favorites, in Asheville, North Carolina offers the opportunity to dine at the Chef’s table in their kitchen. It’s something we’ve always dreamed of doing, so several weeks ago when we were having lunch at the restaurant, Meakin inquired about it and learned that Rezaz offers a 5 course tasting menu for up to 12 people. The menu is personally created for you by Chef Reza himself and can be coordinated to your personal taste. You know our love of France and in particular the Provence region, so I’m sure it doesn’t come as as a surprise to you that we requested a menu designed around the foods of Provence.
We invited two other couples to join us for the evening – Meakin’s brother Stuart and his wife Sandy and friends David and Penny, of Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen, who is one of my favorite food bloggers. I know many of you follow Penny’s blog. Penny and David have visited Provence numerous times as have we and we all both know and love the food of that region.
|Photo of Chef Reza Selayesh courtesy of Rezaz website|
The concept of the Chef’s Table came about from the fact that chefs work long hours and also want to see their friends and families, so they would often feed them in the kitchen as they prepared meals for the other guests of the restaurant. The Chef’s table gives you an opportunity to be part of the family as you dine beside the “line” and under the “Pandelier,” photo below, a very interesting & unusual large metal sculpture that was created from Chef Reza’s original sauté pans that he used during the restaurant’s first decade.
The afternoon of the dinner Penny and David invited us to visit them at Lake Lure for the afternoon of hors d’oeuvres and wine and a boat ride around the lake. Penny prepared a wonderful selection of delicious appetizers including leek and sweet pepper mini French quiches, a simple platter of peppered dry-aged salami with hot house cucumbers, and a creamy red pepper cheese cake accompanied with crackers and grapes that I absolutely fell in love with. David poured a French Rose wine that kept the French theme going. Here’s a link to Penny’s blog with pictures and recipes.
On our arrival at the restaurant Chef Reza warmly greeted each of us personally as we entered his kitchen to welcome us and shook our hand before we were seated at his Chef’s table. Our waiter explained that the chef runs a quiet kitchen (unlike what one might think from the reality cooking shows seen on television today), and he went on to say that of course we were free to talk and have all the fun we wanted. I found the quiet kitchen interesting as Jacques Pepin recently shared his thoughts about the reality cooking shows on television in an article in The Daily Meal titled “How Reality Shows Get It Wrong” link here. This is a direct quote from Jacques in the article: “The so-called “reality” cooking shows are, if anything, totally unreal. A real, well-run professional kitchen has dignity and order. If cameras went into Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, or Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago, they would see a kitchen that is well organized, with a contented, dedicated, hard-working staff.”
At dinner we sat across from our respective spouses – from bottom left to bottom right – moi, Meakin’s brother Stuart, Penny & David, Stuart’s wife Sandy, and Meakin.
Here are some shots of the kitchen at work at Rezaz. Notice how important mis en place is in a professional kitchen in the first photo. Julia Child used to say you have to be happy to cook when you cook for the food to be good. Notice how happy everyone seems to be working together in the kitchen.
We began the meal with smoked salmon rillette, trout & crab galantine & a moule curry.
Pan seared sashimi grade cobia a la Provençal sautéed French gnocchi, seared scallops served over a summer vegetable ratatouille.
Duck leg confit topped with sautéed spinach & crispy fried shallots with a cherry gastrique sauce, accompanied by roasted Yukon gold potatoes tucked under the duck breast.
Three different lamb dishes - a grilled lamb chop, lamb Naverin & gigot d’agneau with French thyme and wild rosemary served with Rezaz’s signature arugula pesto.
A summer berry clafoutis and a lemon & berry sorbet garnished with a crispy touile cookie. When we last dined at Rezaz, we met the pastry chef. She was trained in several various Le Cordon Bleu locations before settling in Asheville. As you can see, she is quite talented.
It was a fabulous evening and one I think we will all savor and remember for a long time. The servings were generous, the staff very attentive, and the food quite remarkable. Chef Reza is a very talented and highly dedicated to quality and customer service. I would highly recommend Rezaz for lunch or dinner or a private party when you are in the area. Also don’t miss taking a tour of the Biltmore Estate & Gardens when you are in Asheville. Rezaz is located very near the Biltmore Estate. I wrote about our visit there a couple of years ago, link here. You won’t want to miss it.
Rezaz Restaurant & Wine Bar is located in Biltmore Village at 28 Hendersonville -Road, Asheville, North Carolina. For reservations phone 828-277-1510. Here’s a link to their website where you can obtain additional information, have a look at their menus and read about Chef Reza. Rezaz can also be found on Facebook and Chef Reza writes a Journal featuring various menus here.
Penny is also writing about the dinner and I highly recommend that you stop by her blog as well. We coordinated our posts to coincide to enable our readers to see each other's pictures and read about the dinner and the evening from two points of view. Here’s a link to Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen.