Episode 65: Peking Duck and Chinese Banquets ft. Ed Schoenfeld
Ed Schoenfeld, creator of the critically acclaimed restaurants Red Farm and Decoy, joined us in the studio to talk about the iconic Peking Duck and his history with Chinese banquets and Chinese restaurants in New York City.
Ed’s love affair with Chinese food dates back to his Brooklyn childhood, where it was a family favorite because it was both affordable and delicious. When he knew he wanted to pursue food as a career, he studied Chinese cooking with Grace Zia Chu, whose husband had been an ambassador in Moscow, where she ran the embassy.
In the late 60s, when the US immigration laws changed, a number of highly-trained and talented Chefs that left China after the Communist party came into power, moved to cities across the US. As Ed began setting up Chinese banquets as a hobby, he developed relationships with this new influx of top-notch Chinese chefs that brought with them culinary skills and regional Chinese cuisines never before seen in the States.
Peking Duck often makes an appearance in the Chinese banquet, sometimes as a fancy appetizer course in an elaborate 8-10 course dinner. At Decoy, Ed and Chef Joe Ng make it the main event and are passionate about thinking through all aspects of making the most delicious Peking Duck and its accompaniments. Ed talked us through where they source the key ingredient, the cooking process, the butchering and plating of the bird.
The prized birds are roasted to order, guaranteeing the most succulent and delectable meat, with their skin blow-torched for the ultimate crispy counterpoint. Chef Joe adds a Cantonese twist to the duck by marinating the meat, as Peking ducks are typically roasted plain. Both New York Magazine and GQ have recognized Decoy as the best Peking Duck option in New York City.
Tune in to hear all the details that go into making this celebratory big format meal, and Ed’s unique stories from his five decades long career in Chinese restaurants in New York.