Heather was head chef for the evening and wrote:
Genomic Gastronomy wanted to draw attention to the “search for the fish tomato,” a tomato genetically engineered with fish genes in an effort to resist frost. This idea made them think, fish + tomato=bouillabaisse, and they thought it would be a fun/interesting challenge to make a vegetarian bouillabaisse to underscore the tomato theme. It was a challenge to give it depth and flavor without any fish or seafood and that’s why I worked really hard on the finishing ingredients.
So the broth is all traditional bouillabaisse foundation: tomato, saffron, white wine, onion, celery, carrot, fennel, leeks. instead of the traditional sauce rouille that accompanies bouillabaisse, I wanted to do something lighter and also linked thematically to the rest of the menu. So I made a lemony aioli (whisked by hand, using Wag eggs, which are hella expensive, but their yolks are amazing) and put that on a pa amb tom quet with smoky spanish paprika. I was making an overture to the later Old/World course of gorilla meats sausages and polenta that I made. So I was thinking about Spain, cultural collisions.
Spanish but a resistant subculture to the dominant Castilian power: Catalan. So pa amb tom quet is a traditional Catalan dish, so simple, of toasted bread, scraped with a clove of garlic, rubbed with a cut tomato half and then drizzled with olive oil. The pimenton again is a nod to Christopher Columbus and exploration, as it is reported that Christopher Columbus brought pimenton to Spain after his second voyage. The smoky paprika also gave some depth of flavor to the tomato dish.
Photo: Ryan Fish