Welcome to the Chefworks
Chef Marco has been a chef for over 30 years and for some time has been doing art, holding dinner parties, baking for friends and giving pastry demos and instruction in his studio.
Our supper club can accommodate gatherings of up to eight people. The space also functions as a studio where Marco makes and displays his art. It is an intimate and informal alternative to going out to a nice restaurant.
"Spending the day baking and preparing great food is one of the things I enjoy best, and my sculpture and library inspire great conversation."
(Click on the Menu and Kitchen Scenes tab to get an idea of what a dining experience would be like )
The Chefworks makes and sells sweet and savory pastries (Click on the Pastry Pricing tab )
The Chefworks can arrange private cooking lessons to sharpen your skills. Tell me what you are interested in learning and we can set up an appointment to enhance your cooking skills.
It's informal, it's great fun, it's only $50 plus the cost of the ingredients.
Private Dinner Party | Supper Club
Below are some of the dishes we've created for our special Chefworks Supper Club guests.
"Squid" made from a selection of homemade pickles from my garden: Italian banana pepper, Green tomato, Carrot, Red Onion, Jersey Tomato - Pear vinaigrette
This plate accompanied the cheese course. Clockwise from the top there is a crispy ginger cracker with a bit of the herbed goat cheese with which we stuffed the capon, fig confit from my neighbors tree, puree of pears made from my friend Evette's pear tree, yellow and red pepper coulis in between stripes of mascarpone.
Chef Marco's Recipe of the Week
Perfect Pie Pastry:
14 oz. very cold, even frozen butter cut into 1/4 inch chunks
3 oz. vegetable shortening
18 oz. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ice water
Combine the flour and shortening with your fingers, making a flaking motion between your fingertips.
Add the butter and cut it into the flour shortening mixture with two metal pastry scrapers or (I prefer) two spackling or paint scrapers from the hardware store. They are easier to use, cheaper than the fancy culinary ones and they are perfect for manipulating thin delicate pastry like cookies and such. The handles on the pastry scrapers for me are clumsy and hard to manipulate. Keep cutting, occasionally scraping off any material which has collected on the surface of the scrapers until you achieve what looks like a rough meal. It does not have to be perfect and some of the pieces of flour coated butter will be bigger than others. This is good and makes for flaky pastry.
Strain any pieces of ice from your ice water and add it to the mixture. Push and press the mass together handling as little as possible. You can use your hands but it is messy. I use a wooden paddle or spoon. It will look rough and uneven. Place the mass into plastic wrap, wax or parchment paper and let it rest for at least one hour.
The dough is now ready to be used.
Practice using less and less flour to roll the dough, and brush off the excess on the top with a dry pastry brush. The paint scraper, because of the shape of the handle is the perfect tool to lift up the pastry if/when it sticks to the work surface. Excess flour when rolling makes the pastry tough when it cooks.
Work in a cool place if possible, and if the pastry becomes too warm, (it starts to feel a little sticky) put it in the refrigerator for a bit and then continue.
Pastry is a relationship between fat and wheat flour. The long chains of protein in wheat called gluten form when water is added to flour. Gluten proteins look like a slinky or kinky hair under the microscope and they stretch under pressure and spring back when the pressure is released. Fat shortens these chains and tenderizes pastry dough
and breads. That is why fats are called shortening in baking. When the water is added to the flour and fat mixture it forms a sticky, stretchy layer surrounding each piece of fat (butter, shortening). That is why we let the dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour so that the gluten proteins can relax, and the dough becomes more manageable. In the oven, the butter melts and produces steam which pushes up against the stretchy dough but cannot escape. When the pastry is finished cooking, the steam escapes which allows the starches in the dough to become strong (crispy) enough to stand up by themselves. The pastry dough is no longer held up by the steam but now surrounds air pockets.
The Chefworks News Corner
My nine-year-old daughter and I had one baking class with Marco, and a week later we both took home ribbons at the Jersey City PIE day competition! My apple pie won first place -- and I owe it all to Marco's wonderful baking tips. His class was both fun and informative. He has a real gift for making a complex process both simple and easy to replicate.
Chef Marco's Cooking Tips
The Perfect Boiled Egg