By Virginia Monaco
ICE was thrilled to host Executive Pastry Chef Joseph Murphy for a demonstration and discussion of his desserts at 3-Michelin-star restaurant Jean Georges, or simply “JG”, as he calls it.
Chef Murphy is a Brooklyn native and a life-long New York City chef who has been through many of the great kitchens in the city, including La Cote Basque, Lespinasse, Park Avenue Café and Gotham Bar and Grill. He has developed a personal style over the years that relies on fresh, seasonal ingredients, restrained sweetness and classic technique.
The class opened with an enlightening run-down of a day in the Jean Georges kitchen. The renowned kitchen boasts no less than sixteen pastry cooks who pull off a huge amount of work. The restaurant goes through around 4,000 petit fours each day, and has its own chocolate enrobing line for the thousands of bonbons made by hand weekly. Chef Murphy has his hands in all aspects, from designing the elaborate plated desserts, to making ganache by the barrel-full for bonbons. He confessed that, every year, he loses sleep worrying that Jean George’s flagship restaurant might lose one of their coveted 3 Michelin stars, but that of course has yet to happen, and they maintain their perfect record year in and year out.
At the restaurant, desserts are served as 4 separate interpretation of a theme, such as chocolate or quince. Chef Murphy treated the audience to his full 4-part caramel tasting, just as it’s served at Jean George. Served all on one plate, the four sections are each designed to highlight different components of caramel’s flavor—a beautiful and refreshing end to a meal.
Chef Murphy openly admits that he never got deeply involved with the modernist movement, and instead chooses to refine time-tested recipes and drill classical technique. For the event, he reflected this style in an airy caramel mousse and peanut torte, caramel apple confit with crème fraiche, a crème caramel with bacon and pecan powder and caramelized pineapple sorbet.
His career is testament to the fact that hard work, accompanied by a hunger for knowledge and a dedication to personal growth, breeds success and fulfillment. He has steadily risen through the ranks over the course of his career, and claims that his secret to success is really no secret at all. Rather, it’s dedicating yourself fully, sticking through the tough times, and trying your best every day.
Despite running one of the world’s most renowned kitchens, Chef Murphy is endearingly humble, and does not conceptualize himself as a famous or revered chef. Rather, he is a man doing what he loves (clearly, doing doing it well). Chef Murphy’s willingness to share his professional story and mentor burgeoning chefs made for a wonderful event here at ICE, particularly for our students. We hope to have him back again soon!