Welcome to Dish Sketches, a new feature where Eater asks chefs for the drawings they make of their food before they cook it.
[Photo: Anthony Martin's river salmon, before and after]
Since coming aboard as Tru's executive chef, Anthony Martin has really made a name for himself and has helped place the upscale, fine dining restaurant back into the spotlight, especially after being named chef of the year in 2011 by the Tribune. In order to prepare the gorgeous, intricate dishes, Martin sketches them out to better visualize how he wants them to look once plated. Here, we have sketches of three new dishes Martin recently added to the menu.
Anthony Martin, chef: "I sketch to help me with the actual visuals of [a dish]. I can kind of picture color, shapes and sizing when I'm doing it, but it mainly saves me on time. Our dishes are pretty involved. With sketches, you'll get an idea of how things will work and come together. It allows us to move at a much faster rate. [Sketching is] mainly for me, but as the dishes come together I'll build prototype dishes, with mock ingredients, that we can plate off of until we can get them down. [The cooks] see the drawings a bit, but it's more of a reference for me and my sous chef, Mark Bolton.
"The different types of salmon comes from a few different techniques. We'll start with a river salmon, a side and separate the top and the belly. The top loin and thinner belly portion, which contains more fat, we'll cure that piece; the salt won't over-dry it. There's a lot of spices—coriander, dehydrated lemon zest—then we'll make a mousse with some of the top loin and that gets herbs like dill, chervil, citrus and that gets poached. We'll smoke and lightly cure the top piece and make it into a really thin sheet that gets rolled around the mousse. Then we also use the roe. So there's four or five types of salmon going on.
And here's a sketch and the finished product for Martin's squab in nature with apple chutney and red ace beet:
Finally, you can't dine at a restaurant like Tru and not experience the decadent desserts. Here is the sketch for a new dish: campfire of s'more with graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow: