Michael Wurster was studying pre-law courses in college, but something else was tugging at him. He soon realized his life would not play out in a courtroom but a kitchen, and he enrolled at the famed Culinary Institute of America. There, he received a Degree of Culinary Arts.
He chose the right path. And these famed chefs in whose kitchens he worked through the years to hone his craft thought so too: Alain Ducasse at Alain Ducasse NY, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, Sottah Kuhn at Le Cirque 2000 and David Feau at Lutece.
The accolades piled up. Chef Michael Wurster was appointed Chef de Cuisine of Lutece at age 26, named “Chef to Watch” by John Mariani and received critical acclaim in Food Arts and The New York Times. In addition, as Executive Chef at ICON at W New York – The Court, Wurster contributed to the creation of brand menus for W Hotels Worldwide. He was chosen from New York City’s most elite culinary talents to head the revival of Tavern on the Green.
Chef Wurster was so highly creative and detail-oriented that Gordon Ramsay snapped him up for Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC. Here, Executive Chef Wurster brings sophistication and artful innovation to seasonal, refined French cuisine. Wurster also oversees the cuisine for The Chef’s Table, in-room dining and private event spaces throughout The London NYC and MAZE, the bistro-type restaurant and bar. Here is his recipe for a delightful grilled watermelon salad, bursting with cucumbers and tomatoes in a superb shallot vinaigrette served at MAZE at Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC, This is a favorite restaurant for pre-theatre dinner and a smart cocktail service.
Grilled Watermelon Salad
English Cucumber, Heirloom Tomato, Feta Cheese, Olives, Shallot Vinaigrette
Perfect for your next summer gathering, this recipe makes 16 portions:
Watermelon, red seedless – 1 whole
English Cucumbers, peeled cut in 1” rounds – 5 each
Heirloom Tomatoes, ends removed and quartered – 8 each
Feta Cheese, 1/2 inch cubes – 32 each
Black Olives – 2 Cups
Shallots, unpeeled – 10 each
Sherry Vinegar – 1/4 Cup
Olive Oil – 3/4 Cup
Thyme, chopped fine – 1 bunch
Mixed Micro Greens – 1 shell
For the Watermelon: Peel the watermelon and then square-off to make a rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 1inch thick blocks. From the 1inch blocks, cut rectangles measuring 1 inch X 3 inches long. Drizzle the watermelon with olive oil and then season both sides with Salt and Pepper. Grill cross hatch marks onto both sides of the watermelon and then chill and hold for finishing.
For the Cucumbers: Peel the cucumbers and then trim off the ends. Cut the cucumber into 1 inch rounds and then with either a small ring or knife, cut out the seeded center, leaving the cucumber rounds intact.
the Heirloom Tomatoes: Cut the ends off of the tomatoes at the stem end to make a flat surface. Next, cut the tomatoes in 4 even quarters and reserve for finishing.
For the Olives: Drain the olives and place on a plate lined with a c-fold towel and then microwave on 50% power for 10 minutes, take out and turn the olives and then repeat for another 10 minutes at 50% power. Do one more time to ensure that the olives are completely dried out. When the olives have cooled, transfer to the Robot Coup and course grind to a powder, hold for assembly.
For the Shallot Vinaigrette: Toss the shallots in a bowl with a little oil, salt and pepper to coat. On a sheet pan lined with foil, lay the shallots out and then transfer to a hot oven to roast until very tender and falling apart. Put the hot shallots into a food mill and process the shallots through the food mill leaving the skins behind into a bowl. Add the vinegar to the shallots and with a hand blender emulsify the oil into the shallots and vinegar.
To Finish: Place 2 planks of the watermelon on the plate, 2 pieces of the tomatoes, 3 rounds of cucumber and 5 cubes of Feta cheese. Place the micro greens in the holes of the cucumber and drizzle all of the garniture with the Shallot Vinaigrette. Top the cucumbers with the olive oil and sprinkle some Maldon Salt on the watermelon and tomatoes.
Feature image courtesy of The London NYC.