A Pop Up Sensation The Gallery by Chef Josh Bieker

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By Annabelle Marceno Pericin

Oyster in the Fog” and “Winter in Japan” sound like novels to be read on a lazy afternoon but are creations of Sacramento Chef Josh Bieker and are menu highlights for his pop up restaurant The Gallery by Josh Bieker. Inspired by his world travels, Bieker masterfully constructs complex, flavorful dishes yet features simplicity using fresh and local ingredients.  Raw hamachi is the star of “Winter in Japan” after traveling to — you guessed itJapan. The supporting cast is salmon roe, Asian pear and a mixture of white miso, white soy and cream. The “snow” is a combination of yuzu, Meyer lemon, simple syrup and seaweed. Bieker creates the snow by freezing the ingredients then freezes it again with liquid nitrogen and blends it right before service. The “snow” powder is then lightly dusted over the top and is garnished with daikon sprouts, petite ice plants and a small amount of ginger oil.

Bieker also shares, “Oyster in the Fog” is a throwback to a walk in the North Coast. The oyster is poached in a water bath for ten minutes to enhance the texture and minerality. It is shucked and kept marinading in its own juices, and is served in the shell with green apple jelly made with gelatin and shiso leaves. Tapioca pearls and Japanese green onion oil complete this dish’s presentation. Right before service they smoke the oysters in a glass domes with alder wood and garnished with allysium flowers. When you lift up the dome, the smoke dissipates just like fog and leaves you in wonder of the dish you are about to experience. The presentation leaves quite an impression.

Chef Bieker has been in a kitchen since he was 17 years old and has never left. He recalls,“Being in control of ingredients and a kitchen peaked my curiosity and I saw that this was an avenue for discipline, craft and creativity.”

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California Style With International Influence

Bieker credits Charlie Trotter’s cook book when he was 19 years old to opening his eyes to the possibility of what food could be and acclaimed California chef Thomas Keller as being an inspiration to his style of cooking. “You could give the diner an experience that’s much more than simply eating to survive. You could give them a truly unique experience. One that would test, tease and excite all their senses,” says Bieker. He attributes his personal travels and dining experiences all over the world to how he has grown as a chef and continued passion for cooking. Legendary chef Motokazu Nakamura of Nakamura in Kyoto and French chef Pierre Gagnaire, who has been on the front line of the fusion cuisine movement, are among the list of influences that have ignited and raised his cooking to a world class standard.

Showcasing unusual, artful pairings of local and seasonal ingredients such as pork belly with a bold-flavored combination of mussel emulsion, roasted mustard seed, cabbage, and nasturtium leaves you wondering how this combination works. Current ingredients that Bieker is obsessed with are spring onions, green garlic & asparagus. “These ingredients are great because they offer me a huge contrast to the root vegetables we work with all winter. They are bright and floral. I also like being able to work with the many varieties of spring flowers because people don’t quite understand the punch of color and flavor they add to a dish,” he explains.

About The Gallery

The first Gallery dinner took place around three years ago. Bieker’s team includes an assistant cook and his wife Jade who is in charge of room layout, floral arrangements and plating. They originally used the Steel Magnolia kitchen and friends’ houses hosting their pop up dinners. Currently, The Gallery uses the kitchen at East Bay Restaurant Supply to host their intimate dinners for up to 12 guests.

This summer Bieker is putting all his energy into expanding The Galley including possibly hosting a “pop-up” in LA, hosting cooking classes and anything he needs to do to get The Gallery’s name out there. “I really think what we offer is unlike anything you can get in Sacramento. It would be nice to get our name known so more people have the opportunity to experience what we offer. I plan on having more frequent “pop-up” dinners with the eventuality of owning my own building to host these events. I can really see that there is a want for the service we provide. People love to try new experiences,” he expresses. Chef Bieker enjoys that The Gallery dinners allows everyone to arrive as strangers but they leave as friends. “I like knowing it was the food and overall experience that brought everyone together.”

Follow The Gallery by Josh Bieker on Facebook and to inquire about future pop up dinner events or email Chef Josh Bieker at thegallerybyjb@gmail.com