Long before New Nordic cuisine was all the rage and forager king Rene Redzepi practically became a household name, there was Aquavit. A refined Midtown Manhattan staple since 1987, it’s also where superstar celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson first made a name for himself.
In the latest episode of Elevated Cooking, Aquavit’s executive chef Emma Bengtsson shows off a dessert that’s been a menu staple (and a customer favorite) for several years: the artful Arctic Bird’s Nest. As the chef demonstrates, the fanciful “eggs” are made from a goat cheese parfait with sea buckthorn curd “yolks” dipped into white chocolate; halvah is shredded to resemble bird feathers, dehydrated milk skin resembles eggshell shards, and brownie crumbs (made from Bengtsson’s grandmother’s recipe) scattered on the plate stand in for dirt. She finishes the stunning plate with a small scoop of blueberry sorbet, plus microgreens, blueberries, and a little gold leaf to up the fancy factor.
Bengtsson’s accomplished pastry skills may seem surprising for a savory chef, but she actually first began her stint at Aquavit as a pastry chef. After Bengtsson was promoted to executive chef she took the kitchen to new heights, leading the restaurant to earn its second Michelin star in 2017.