Left: Greg Grossman: Wunderkind / Right: Zebra print..it’s what’s for dinner.
Definition of WUNDERKIND
: a child prodigy; also : one who succeeds in a competitive or highly difficult field or profession at an early age
This label was bestowed upon Greg Grossman on both the invite and menu. Some may say that when you have a privileged upbringing that allows for you to be surrounded by only good food, you are already ahead of the game. Commenters also indicate that the lad will crack under pressure. Others? They think that what he’s doing is totally against Child Labor Laws. Most recently, Culinary Critic Gael Greene tweeted this:
Make of the above what you will, but there are two ways to deal with that comment, in our opinion: 1) Fold under pressure and succumb to the big bullies pushing you around or 2) Allow that to comment to fuel the fire in you to prove skeptics wrong. For his sake, we are hoping Greg will perservere by doing the latter. On opening night of The Feast, we witnessed a whole lot of interviewing by heavyweights including WSJ and NRN, no strangers to media. Greg even has a following of ‘groupies’, mostly girls, who all claim to be his ‘biggest fan’. Younger than Beiber Fever but brave enough to undertake this PR blitz, surely an event like this could make or break Greg, but he has no hopes of letting himself or others down.
Fully booked to capacity and sold out, he seemed cool, calm, and collected. His stage presence was warm and his introductory speech was well received. Virtually a rock star in his own right, he was approached by many a fan but seemed unphased by the fanfare. Even Real Housewives of NY star Jill Zarin made a cameo to say hi to Greg. However, in what may be his defining moment in the spotlight, Greg was more focused on the task at hand: delivering quality food to his guests.
Although the first night was ‘Invite Only’ and reserved for The Sanctuary Hotel Owner and his guests plus media, it was a chance for Greg to put his feelers out for what worked and what didn’t. The vision of the food is all his, but the execution is led by his staff and Chef & Company, a corporate and fine dining catering company. The final menu has since been tweaked to be on the ‘safer’ side to appeal to all palates. The first course was prepared in front of the guests in the back center where bar number one usually resides. Service was executed promptly as dishes were hauled to tables immediately upon plating. We saw balloons being popped, C02 cartridges, an airbrush, an immersion circulator, a container of maltodextrin even.
Our opinion? First and foremost, the hot dishes came out hot. More of then than not, that is not the case with Undergrounds/Pop Ups, trust us. Yes, this should be standard but you’d be surprised how many dinners have failed us in this regard. The food? Sure, some dishes could use a little balance, but we’re sure they’ll figure it out by service tonight. We were in awe of the quartet, aka Course 3. Albeit a slight hint of bitterness from the Campari in the beets, the rest of the entire dish had us exhibiting a mouth-watering foodgasm, stunning both visually and viscerally. By sous vide cooking the proteins, we could taste the delicate texture of both fish quadrants, while the ‘low and slow’ cooking of the lamb and beef provided for a melty umami experience leaving us yearning for more.
The true test will be tonight when paying customers from the Netherworld come hither with high expectations and low brows. Can Greg thrive by making the proper adjustments from ‘lessons learned’ on night one to better his food or will he settle for ‘living another day’? For $95, many guests will be expecting more than mere flattery via Pop Art, scantily clad angels and a DJ. They will also demand flawless execution and a FedEx delivery.
Yes, there was rain outside, but not on this parade.