Chatting w/ Chef Mashama Bailey About the Reopening of Intersect by Lexus – The Grey
When Intersect by Lexus opened in NYC’s Meatpacking District in November 2018, it felt something like the future of restaurants, in an industry in which it often seemed as if everything had already been done. It was cleverly meant to convey a set of philosophical values that the luxury car maker applied to its own business; it was spread over three floors and 16,500 square feet, making it almost feel like a museum/showroom as much as a restaurant (similar to what Baccarat had done with the Cristal Room in Paris); and it was designed by Wonderwall’s Masamichi Katayama, so was every inch a visual feast.
But most intriguingly, rather than the food being some afterthought to all the dazzle, another well-regarded chef and new culinary concept was to be brought in every four to six months, making it an endless fascination for those forever in search of truly unique dining experiences. The latest incarnation, obviously, has had to battle with coronavirus conditions, which caused corresponding delays and shutdowns. But Intersect by Lexus, The Grey will be decisively reopening to indoor diners this Thursday, March 25.
And heading north for the occasion is the exalted Executive Chef Mashama Bailey who, along with restaurateur Johno Morisano have brought their beloved Savannah restaurant The Grey to Gotham. The second floor dining room will offer a three-course menu of her Port City Southern Cuisine, with corresponding wines by the glass. Downstairs, the first floor lounge will focus on small plates inspired by the international travels of Executive Chef and Lexus Culinary Master Nickolas Martinez.
We caught up with Morisano and Bailey for a quick chat about this exciting moment in the NYC restaurant world, which we hope is a sign that things will be returning to normal sooner than later. Chef Mashama was also kind enough to share a few favorite recipes from the Grey menu.
How do you think Savannah will translate to Manhattan?
Johno Morisano: It’s not so much about Savannah translating to Manhattan, but more about what we have learned about the South, its food and culture, and coalescing that to create an honest experience for New Yorkers – an experience that is rooted in Savannah. We believe that this is going to be really exciting for us and our guests and we cannot wait to get started again.
Why do you think it’s important to be doing a project like this at such an uncertain time for the restaurant business?
JM: It’s important on a lot of levels. Our industry has been decimated financially and emotionally. In Savannah, we have been working toward serving our guests in a way that makes our team and the guests comfortable. We have created an environment in which their best interests are being regarded as we provide them with a satisfying and fun experience around food. Taking what we have learned with operating since July in Savannah, to the relatively newly opened indoor dining scene in New York City, is a great opportunity to inject this energy, good food and Southern hospitality. Food and congregating around food are integral to American culture and that is never going away. Being at the forefront of this rebirth in our hometown is more than we could ask for and we thank Lexus and Union Square Hospitality for the chance.
Mashama, you’re a Bronx girl – how does it feel to be coming back to NYC?
Mashama Bailey: It feels good. I am excited to reconnect with people in the industry in my hometown. I’m looking forward to all of it: the noise, the culture and food. I’m on cloud nine and I feel very lucky to be doing this.
Can you give your best description of the cuisine you will be serving at this new edition of The Grey?
MB: Port City Southern! It is what we call the food at The Grey. There are port cities all over the world and those ports serve as entryways or connectors to the rest of the world. Savannah, like other coastal cities, has been influenced by multiple cuisines. It helps being from NYC, I have an opportunity to continue utilizing the cultures that have influenced my palate because of our location. New York has helped to hone my skills and now I can apply that to regional Southern cooking.
What are a few particularly special dishes?
MB: I love everything that we are bringing to NYC. We wanted to take the best expression of ourselves back home. Dishes like Chicken Country Captain or smoked collards have become favorites for many, and we hope that those dishes like many others will help tell the story of the restaurant through the food.
Recipes From Mashama Bailey, The Grey
Home Cooked Smoked Lamb
20 pounds Lamb Shoulder, Bone In
23 Grams Grounded Black Peppercorn
105 grams Salt, kosher
Rub the lamb shoulders with the salt/ pepper mixture
Set on racks and refrigerator over night
With a grill, use the charcoal snake method:
- Place first layer of briquets unlit, in a circle around the grill.
- Sprinkle wood chips on top of the briquets
- Light hot briquets and place on the head of the snake
- Using an aluminum pan, fill it with hot water in the center of the snake.
- Once it starts, add more wood on top if need be.
Smoke at 200º F – 250ºF for 12 – 14 hours
Carefully remove the bones, tendons and excess fat pockets.
Wrap in cling film tightly and press.
When cool, portion into 6 oz pieces.
Home Cooked Potato Cake w/ Smoked Lamb
2- quart Clarified Butter
5 Idaho Potatoes, peeled
Salt and Ground black Pepper
- Mix 2 parts salt and 1 part ground black pepper and place in a stainless steel shaker.
- Melt the clarified butter and hold in a half hotel pan.
- Line the bottom of a quarter sheet tray with parchment paper.
- With a mandolin or deli slicer, slice translucent slices of potato and place inside the clarified butter.
- Shingle the potato slices so they cover the bottom just touching. Sprinkle a light layer of the salt/ pepper mixture.
- Start the layer on top of that one with the shingles starting the other way at a ninety degree angle and season with the salt and pepper. Repeat this until you have 10 full layers.
- Place another piece of parchment on top of the top layer and cover with another quarter sheet tray. Place this setup on top of a full sheet tray. Place a weight on top of the top sheet tray, such as a stack of small cast iron pans.
- Place in a 300º F Oven until cooked all the way through, 1 – 1 ½ hours. Cool in the walk in weighed down.
- Cut into 9 squares.
Yardbird with Captain Sauce
Yield: 2 portions
2 each airliner chicken breast
2 slices of ½ – inch -thick sourdough bread
Sliced Almonds, toasted
2 heads of garlic
1 tsp grapeseed oil
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Peel skin off garlic.
- In mixing bowl, mixed peeled garlic, grapeseed, and salt.
- Place on sheet tray and roast for 25 minute or until caramel color.
- Puree in blender and reserve for later
50 g Garlic
13 g Serrano Chile
125 g Green Bell Pepper
275 g Onion
5 g Curry Powder
190 g White Wine
375 g Crushed Tomato, canned and liquid drained
2000 g Chicken Stock
To taste salt
To taste pepper
- Sweat onions and bell peppers on lower heat until sweated out and begin to take color.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add serrano and garlic and sweat until garlic begins to take color and stick to the pan.
- Add curry and toast with the vegetables for about 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes with a pinch of salt and half of the wine. Cook out raw flavor, about 20 minutes.
- Once moisture has been cooked out, add the rest of the wine and cook down by half.
- Add chicken stock and cook down by half. Reserve for later.
- Season airliner breast with salt and pepper.
- Sear in hot pan with grapeseed oil skin side down until golden brown.
- Put pan into 350F oven until internal temp of chicken reach 165F
- And take-out oven to rest.
- Toast a ½ -inch-thick piece of sourdough bread in butter on both sides.
- Shmear with garlic puree.
- Serve the chicken on top of the garlic trencher.
- Pour captain sauce on top of chicken.
- Sprinkle currants, sliced almonds, and parsley for garnish.
Devil’s Food Cake
Yield: One Square Cake Mold
Mold: 8 Inch x 8 Inch x 3 Inch Deep
- Egg 3 Each
- Canola Oil 1 Cup (120 g)
- Milk 1.5 Cup (360 g)
- Sugar 3 Cups (600 g)
- AP Flour 3 Cups (420 g)
- Cocoa Powder 1 Cup (130 g)
- Baking Powder 1 TBS (14 g)
- Baking Soda 1 TBS (14 g)
- Salt ½ TBS (7g)
- Coffee 1.5 Cup (360 g)
- Whip the whole egg with a whisk attachment on the highest speed for 7 minutes or until it becomes frothy.
- Stream in canola oil as you whip with medium speed.