Main Course: Dining with Food Stylist Alice Hart

The main course at the Emmy Awards Governor’s Ball was a star in its own right, well deserving of a food stylist like Alice Hart to make it shine it’s brightest. In the second part of our three-part interview with food stylist Alice Hart (read part one here), we discuss the physical cues and psychology of appetite.

MasterCook: How do you determine what looks appetizing to people?

Alice Hart: Here’s an example—look at a tomato. If it doesn’t have a top on it, something’s wrong. A tomato without a top on it doesn’t identify in the mind as a tomato, so you can’t taste it.

So when I go to the supermarket, I buy tomatoes that have tops on them because a tomato is not complete unless it has a beautiful top coming out of it. If you look at photos of my food styling and you don’t get a nano-brain-second of “Yes!” or that appetizing mouth feel of “Oh, that looks yummy!” or “Oh, I can taste it!” or “Oh, I want to make it!” then I haven’t done my job.

It’s an unconscious feeling. I used to go to the supermarket and walk down the aisles—Stouffers, Lean Cuisine, Nestle—and just look at packaging. We don’t recognize or understand the colors and the logic to triggering that appetitive feeling in our brain. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

I’ve always said “We eat with our eyes.” If it looks messy, greasy, dirty fingerprints—we’re not going to eat it. You can distress your clothes and you can distress your hair and makeup—with the goth look and all the fashion—but one thing you can’t distress is your food.


We now bring you the recipe for the next course— the main course —served at the 68th Emmy Awards Governor’s Ball and styled by Alice Hart. These recipes were inspired by the Emmys and created by Greg Wiele, Culinary Director and Corporate Executive Chef of Patina Restaurant Group, which provided catering for the ball.

For more information on Alice Hart, please visit her website, Food for Film.

French Tenderloin Recipe
68th Emmy Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball Tasting in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for Television]/AP Images).

“Turf & Turf”

Thyme-roasted tenderloin and slow-braised short rib, wild mushroom pithivier (French pastries), rapini, rainbow carrots, caramelized shallot jus

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds prime beef tenderloin, sous vide and pan roasted (or, pan seared and oven roasted) (see recipe below)

2 prime beef short rib, braised (see recipe below)

6 wild mushroom pithiviers (French pastries) (see recipe below)

12 rapini florets, blanched (see recipe below)

2 pounds rainbow carrots, roasted (see recipe below)

6 ounces caramelized shallot red wine sauce (see recipe below)

Directions

  1. Artfully arrange a 3oz slice of tenderloin, a 3oz portion of braised short rib, a mushroom pithivier, roasted carrots and rapini on six 10” hot plates.
  2. Sauce each plate with an ounce of the caramelized shallot red wine sauce.

Thyme-roasted Tenderloin

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds prime beef tenderloin

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 fresh thyme sprigs

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions, if using a sous vide machine

  1. Cryovac tenderloin and sous vide until an internal temperature of 129 ° F is achieved.
  2. Remove from cryovac bag and pat tenderloin dry; season tenderloin with salt and pepper.
  3. Over high heat, combine olive oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet.
  4. When butter starts to bubble and brown, add thyme sprigs and tenderloin,
  5. Pan roast tenderloin on all sided until caramelized; butter baste tenderloin with pan oils while caramelizing.
  6. Rest and slice into 3 ounce portions.

Directions, if not using a sous vide machine

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F and allow meat to come to room temperature before seasoning.
  2. Pan sear in a cast iron skillet as indicated above until browned on all sides and then roast in oven until a meat thermometer reads 132 ° F, or for approximately 20 minutes.

Braised Short Rib

Ingredients:
5 pounds boneless beef short ribs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 medium onions, chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 750-ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon

4 cups veal stock

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F and season short ribs with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Working in two batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about eight minutes per batch.
  4. Transfer short ribs to a plate; pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.
  5. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about five minutes.
  6. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, about two to three minutes.
  7. Stir in wine and then add short ribs with any accumulated juices.
  8. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
  9. Stir in stock; bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
  10. Cook until short ribs are tender, approximately 2–2½ hours.
  11. Cut into 3-ounce portions.

Wild Mushroom Pithivier

Ingredients:
4 sheets puff pastry, cut into twelve 3.5” rounds

1 egg

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound Crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 pound Chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 pound White button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

4 tablespoons Porcini mushroom powder

1 cup white wine

1 cup heavy cream

4 shallots, brunoised

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Directions

  1. For the filling, sauté the shallots and garlic in the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat for one minute until fragrant and translucent.
  2. Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown and all liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add white wine and thyme and reduce until dry.
  4. Add heavy cream and reduce until thickened and mushrooms are coated; remove from heat.
  5. Add porcini powder and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pulse in food processor until a thick chunky paste consistency is achieved.
  7. To assemble, prepare egg wash by whisking one egg and two ounces of water together.
  8. Lay six puff pastry disks on a baking sheet and spoon three ounces of mushroom filling onto the center of each disk.
  9. Brush the border with egg wash, taking special care not to let the egg wash drip down the sides, which would inhibit proper puffing during baking.
  10. Place the second round on top and press to seal, using your fingers.
  11. Using a small paring knife, score the top of each pithivier in a circular, decorative cross-hatch pattern.
  12. With a small paring knife, score around edges in 1/4-inch increments.
  13. Let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour; bake in 375 ° F oven for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Rapini

Ingredients:
12 rapini (or broccoli rabe) florets, blanched

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, smashed

1/8 tsp chili flakes

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil, butter, garlic, and chili flakes in a large sauté pan over high heat until fragrant and butter is foamy.
  2. Add rapini and sauté for one to two minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Rainbow Carrots

Ingredients:
2 pounds large rainbow carrots (red, white, orange and purple colors; preferably from Weiser Family Farms)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons raw sugar

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 ounce unsalted butter Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 ° F.
  2. Add unpeeled carrots, olive oil, vegetable stock, garlic, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper to a shallow baking dish.
  3. Cover and roast for two hours or until carrots are fork tender; remove and let chill.
  4. Cut carrots into various shapes (planks, stumps, half-logs and spears) and portion into six mounds with various colors.
  5. Brush carrots with butter and reheat in oven when ready to serve.

Caramelized Shallot Red Wine Sauce

Ingredients:
5 shallots, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cups Cabernet Sauvignon

4 cups veal stock

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Sauté the shallots in a medium saucepan with the oil over a high heat for about three minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring often.
  2. Season shallots with salt and ground black pepper and continue cooking for 15 mins on low heat, stirring often to prevent the shallots burning, until caramelized.
  3. Pour in the wine and cook over high heat until reduced by two thirds.
  4. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer until reduced by two-thirds again, to yield about two cups.
  5. Season sauce with salt and whisk in the butter.

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