The world of fine dining has seen many iterations. And recently—perhaps as a West Coast trend—many restaurants that have been granted the prestigious Michelin star are trying to balance the culture of traditional fine dining with approachability, while still maintaining a sense of mystery and daring. Like a tightrope walker balancing high above the ground below, it’s a fine line to steady oneself upon.
When I think of fine dining in Los Angeles, I think of Beverly Hills. And at its epicenter is the two-Michelin-starred Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant run by Executive Chef Lee Hefter.
Hefter has been with Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Catering and Events for 23 years, and has worked alongside Puck in opening Spago and CUT’s multiple worldwide locations. Hefter is responsible for creating extraordinary, unique dishes that can be recreated in Beverly Hills or in Singapore. Puck’s brand is known for consistency, and Hefter helps guide the company’s concept to fruition.
When you walk inside the doors of Spago off North Canon Drive in bustling Beverly Hills, the bougainvillea-covered exterior welcomes you into an opaque, yet warm, oasis. The décor is approachable, yet distinguished. Its art is a mix of playful and refined. You’ll walk past an unassuming bar on your left, where the bartenders will make you a classic-inspired-yet-inventive cocktail from their ever-rotating menu that will deliciously pair with your meal, or can stand eloquently on it’s own. Your barrel-aged old fashioned is both smooth and distinct in flavor.
And when your food is finally placed in front of you on your white-linen table in the midst of a vine-covered, brick-walled, open-air courtyard, you’ll need to take a moment before you carefully devour your meal. Just look at it; the artwork on the walls isn’t the statement. It’s this.
Managing Partner and Executive Chef Lee Hefter and Chef de Cuisine Tetsu Yahagi at Spago were kind enough to share with us their recipe for their Roasted Liberty Duck Breast dish. Enjoy the peek behind this fine dining curtain, right in your own home.
Roasted Liberty Duck Breast
Duck Galantine, Pistachio Puree and Natural Roasting Jus
Courtesy of Managing Partner/Executive Chef Lee Hefter and Chef de Cuisine Tetsu Yahagi
Serving size: 2
- 1 each, 10 oz. duck breast
- 2 tablespoons demi-glace
- ½ cup red wine
Method: Roast the duck breast in a thick cast iron pan, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crispy and the meat is medium rare (about 15 minutes on low to medium heat). Deglaze the pan with red wine and demi-glace. Reduce to make your roasting juice. Set aside. Allow the duck to rest and slice into two thick portions.
- 3 ounces chanterelle mushrooms (cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 sprig thyme
Method: In a sauté pan, melt butter. Once the butter is lightly browned, add chanterelle mushrooms, garlic clove and thyme, and cook until mushrooms are tender and slightly caramelized on surface (about 2 minutes on high heat).
Rye Bread Crisp
Method: One day in advance, place a load of rye bread in the freezer. Once frozen remove and slice into paper thin pieces with a sharp knife. Dehydrate overnight in a dehydrator and bake under 300 degrees fahrenheit for two minutes or until chips are crispy.
Note: recipe makes enough for 20 servings
- 400 grams pistachio puree
- 200 grams milk
- 300 grams cream
- 1.2 grams xanthan gum
- salt to taste
Method: Combine all ingredients in a blender and set aside. Refrigerate and reheat before serving. Use one tablespoon per serving.
Galantine de Canard
- 500 grams duck breast, cut in 5 mm x 5 mm x 2 cm strips
- 500 grams pork butt (fatty), ground with 3/16 die plate
- 80 grams veal liver, cooked with 1 tablespoon chopped shallots, 15 grams dijon mustard, 20 grams cognac
- 15 grams curing salt
- 1 grams white pepper
- 1 gram foie spice mix
- 30 grams cognac
- 30 grams port wine
- 50 grams pistachio rough chopped
- 50 grams minced dried apricots
- 1 each egg
Method: Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Form into a cylinder shape in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate and allow to rest overnight. Cook in a hot water bath 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) for 50 minutes, or until the interior temperature reaches 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit).
Chill and slice into thin slices.
Plating: Place slice of duck breast on the plate, and arrange three slices of the galantine alongside the breast, each with a rye bread chip and chanterelle mushrooms. Place the roasting juice on the plate and garnish with micro sorrels.
176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210