Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Who Needs Cup o' Noodles?

Samiha alerted me to this News & Observer article about a Duke undergraduate whose extracurricular culinary pursuits have attracted the attention of foodies and health officials alike. Senior history and economics major Bryan Zupon runs Z Kitchen out of his campus apartment. Zupon serves delicious, full-course meals to friends and "like-minded foodies." He has state-of-the-art cookware and utensils which allow him to venture gourmet concoctions like poached duck breast in a foie gras butter.

A recent menu, as reported by the N&O, went something like this:
*Shrimp, Nueske bacon, avocado mosaic, tomato-cumin chutney, mustard, Sichuan peppercorn, Old Bay
*Red snapper, braised fennel, candied olive, raisins, passion fruit vinegar
*Sam Mason's pork belly, miso-butterscotch, snow peas
*Duck breast poached in foie gras butter, crispy skin, mushroom ragout, sage, black truffle-lemongrass emulsion, grains of paradise
*Beet, chevre, pistachio, green peanuts, orange blossom honey, ginger-pear, Manni olive oil, Maldon salt, grated chocolate
*Homeland Creamery blackberry ice cream, sesame chocolate, roasted-pickled apples, roasted pineapple

Word of Zupon's gourmanderie spread quickly, and soon Z Kitchen was "booked" every weekend during his junior year. This September, Zupon was the subject of a glowing New York Times story, in which the author wrote about her visit to Z Kitchen, dining on fare that "wouldn’t be out of place in New York or San Francisco." (The story includes the recipe for red snapper with braised fennel and candied olives.)

Zupon's problem now is that Durham County officials suspect him of illegally running a restaurant out of his apartment. Because Z Kitchen hasn't been inspected or taxed as a restaurant, charging his guests for the food he serves would land Zupon in some trouble. (It may not have helped that the Times write-up actually states that Zupon is "running a restaurant.") While Zupon claims never to have charged money for his work, he does accept donations or contributions to offset the cost of buying ingredients.

As of this writing, Zupon continues to cook out of Z Kitchen. His website,, seems to be temporarily down. At any rate, it's a good story, and I can only hope that I'll be invited to dine at Z Kitchen before Zupon graduates this spring.

No comments: