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It’s not often you get to cook along side a world-renowned chef. I was honored, excited, nervous — you name it, I felt it — to have the opportunity to cook with Danish chef Mads Refslund of Acme — at my best friend, Jean Marc Houmard’s beach house, no less. A group of friends gathered together in Fire Island to celebrate both JM and Mads' birthday.
Mads was making his version of a seafood bouillabaisse. When I arrived, he was creating a stock utilizing the lobster shells from the prior nights dinner and the rich aroma that filled the home was heavenly! This dish was unplanned and had sprouted from the leftovers sitting in the fridge — the resourceful use of unused seafood became the day's lunch extravaganza.
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Mads asked me to make an aioli, so, as I was snapping away with my camera in one hand, I was madly whisking egg yolks and slowly streaming oil. I was nail-bitingly nervous — thinking back to my cooking school days, how do I make aioli again? Of course I didn’t want to seem amateur (even though I am) by asking too many questions! Every now and again Mads would take the bowl from my hands and whisk with such vigor, passion, and intensity that I truly got a sense of his love of cooking.
This meal was a collaboration of sorts and quite special in it’s organic process. There were about five people in the kitchen, hands crossing over one another’s, people bumping into each other, the Aperol spritz's being made and handed out among us (the drink of the weekend!) and Mads calling out tasks for us all to complete. The entire experience was dreamy and undone — it felt a bit like Top Chef unplugged since we were in a home kitchen, which made it all the more exciting. A reminder that great meals can be created in any setting, you don’t necessarily need fancy tools and professional equipment. I was in cooking bliss!