The Cypress Room Tasting Menu Part II: Menu Design with Roel Alcudia

 

The Cypress Room came together with such a singular vision, that every person, at every point of its inception, has had to live up to it. Chef de Cuisine Roel Alcudia came to us from New York City to stand at the helm of the kitchen. The golden boy of The Genuine Hospitality Group, Roel gets first choice of the ingredients that come in fresh from Homestead, the Atlantic, the Gulf, and wherever else we find the beautiful product that graces The Cypress Room’s a la carte menus.  From there, and not a moment before, the daily Lunch Prix Fixe and nightly Tasting Menu are conceived.

Having been trained by our self-proclaimed Godfather, Roel didn’t have much catching up to do in the Genuine kitchens.  He has a keen eye for freshness, a taste for quality that we love so much. So it’s only natural that when I sat down to ask him about how the Tasting Menu dishes come to be, he had three words to say: I wing it.

He thought a while, and went on, “We never get anything specific for the tasting menu. It’s just using what’s in the walk-in [cooler] in different variations than what’s on the menu. It’s a good way for the kitchen to be more innovative and experimental.”

And sometimes the items that he comes up with stick. Like the Wild Salmon Crudo with Crème fraîche, Green Almonds and Capers or the Black Grouper with Potato, Fennel, Shellfish Broth, and Black Olive Aioli, both began just as a taste dishes and now are available on the dinner menu each night.

In turn, there are the ingredients that come in only to adorn the tasting menu. Explained Roel, “Special things like the winter truffle that we anticipated coming in but that didn’t necessarily get to make it onto the menu, we decided to design a tasting menu that would highlight it. Raw beef with truffles, gnocchi with truffles. On the rotisserie chicken we added a truffle supplement.” And just like that, truffles danced through The Cypress Room without ever having a menu item bear their name.

Of course, the food isn’t the only part to the tasting menu. As you read yesterday, Eric Larkee adds the final ingredient, wine.  And he makes it very simple for Roel.  He said, “Eric has a diverse and prolific list, and he can always fit something in. We recently had an Asian dish, and he paired it with beer.” Sounds like perfect pairings; both Asian and beer, and Eric and Roel.

And that’s just it.  It’s a process not premeditated, but rather a collaboration, a coming together of a lifetime of experience and ideas that on any given night, spontaneously gel to create something special and unique.  It’s what The Cypress Room is all about.

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