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Pinch Food Design

Eclectic flavors match stunning presentations from a NY-based design/chef duo

by Graham Hiemstra in Food + Drink on 22 September 2011

Taking catering in a new direction is Pinch Food Design, a NYC-based catering company specializing in both presentation and culinary innovation that's guaranteed to surprise and delight. Founded by industry veterans Tj Girard (head designer) and Bob Spiegel (head chef), the two work together seamlessly to make Pinch's creations both pleasing to the pallet and the eye. A short while ago some of the CH team was invited to their Chelsea HQ to see and taste what the creative team has been working on lately. The following are four of our favorite appetizers and an in-depth look at one of Chef Bob's finest works of culinary art.

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As a perfect example of Pinch's focus on design, the serving dish has been cleverly created to use cabinet knobs to present the basil crusted filet mignon. Topped with shallot marmalade and tiny popover pastry, each bite sized piece is an absolute delight.

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What may be the most interesting appetizer that we sampled, this falafel adaptation was fun and flavorful. The pressed pita chips act as the ultimate vessel for the red olive, hummus, cucumber pickle and of course falafel meat. Pleasantly surprised with its canny taste, the moist little towers won the team over instantly.

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Drizzled in mustard oil and port, the chanterelle broccoli rabe sausage is literally balanced with a delicate piece of pequillo toast. Secured on both ends by Pinch's custom toothpick design, the two sides to the appetizer play well off each other, allowing the holder to follow the savory sausage with a complimentary crunch.

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For dessert Pinch keeps its patrons on their feet with their suspension pastry galettes. The copper structure holds light and flaky pastries by free swinging hooks, allowing each piece to be picked by hand. Adding to the seasonal selection of peach, fig, berry, pear and strawberry rhubarb pastries are copper bowls of cinnamon, chocolate and regular whipped cream for dipping. These were hands down our favorite and the most creative way to serve dessert that we've come across yet.

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After a great deal of negotiations and bargaining we persuaded Chef Bob to give up the secret recipe for his amazing mini spaghetti and meatball appetizer. These were unlike any appetizers we've ever seen, and obviously worth a closer look. More on the recipe and his essential preparation techniques as told by the inventor himself after the jump.

Spaghetti Roll


3 Cloves Garlic, sliced thin
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups canned Plum Tomatoes, pureed with juices
1 cup tomato paste
Salt
Pepper
1/2 pound Angel hair pasta
Parmigiano-Reggiano, whole, not grated
Meatballs, rolled the size of a dime, recipe follows

Lightly brown garlic in oil, add the tomato puree, cook for 20 minutes until emulsified. Take out 2 tablespoons of the sauce and set aside for finishing later. Add the tomato paste and cook on a low flame. The key here is to cook this for a lot longer than you think, as the goal is to evaporate all the liquid, but not compromise the flavor. This is what makes the 'glue', the key to the whole dish. Meanwhile, cook the angel hair in salted water until al dente, strain—do not rinse off the starch—and add the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

With tongs or rubber gloves, pull out some of the dressed angel hair pasta. Place it on some plastic wrap and roll tubes about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate these for an hour or two until the pasta is set. The angel hair will continue to absorb the sauce and not be as al dente, this creates the illusion in your mouth as when you cut the pasta it feels more al dente than it is.

To serve, cut the pasta rolls 3/4 inch thick, lay them next to each other and microwave for 15 seconds. On a separate cutting board, micro plane the parmigiano, stack back up the angel hair roll and liberally roll the round sides in the parmigiano.

Meatballs


1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup, toasted breadcrumbs
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large egg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt
pepper

Combine the beef and pork in a large bowl. Then add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well until the olive oil is completely absorbed. It may seem like a lot of olive oil, but this is what give the hors d’oeuvres its moistness. Refrigerate and roll into dime sized balls.

Sear the little meatballs in olive oil and finish with the reserved tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper. Spoon the meatball and some sauce on top of the pasta roll, micro plane some more cheese on top. Serve while still warm.

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