Test Driving Two NYC Chefs at Buick Discovery Tour

As close as we are to Manhattan, it can sometimes be daunting to choose a restaurant when heading into the city for an evening or, as happens often, out-of-towners send frantic pleas for recommendations on where to eat while they’re in town. It’s great, then, to have the chance to sample the artistry of NYC chefs right here in Jersey when they bring their show on the road. In the case of the Buick Discovery Tour, they’re quite literally doing just that.

Motoring through Morristown on a recent weekend, the Discovery Tour – co-hosted by Buick and Food & Wine magazine – featured celebrity and up-and-coming chefs, an irreverent wine expert, and delectable samples of food, drink, and drive (not necessarily in that order). It’s an interesting concept, pairing the foodie experience with that of test driving glossy new cars with heated steering wheels and less than 100 miles on the odometer. The goal of the sponsors is to create an experience and perhaps inspire an ah-ha moment next time you venture out to buy a car. The event promoted the theme of “new discoveries” and offered a great opportunity to learn about cooking techniques, specialty ingredients, flavor palettes, and the personal stories behind award-winning culinary stars.

Manhattan-based chefs Michael Psilakis, owner of several modern Greek restaurants—including Kefi and FISHTAG, both on the Upper West Side—and George Mendes, owner of Aldea, which puts a new-millennium twist on Portuguese cuisine, were on hand to demonstrate simple dishes that can easily translate to make-at-home meals you can present with flavor and flair. Here are the recipes they’ve shared with us at JerseyBites, courtesy of the Buick team:

Gyro Spiced Slider

Gyro Spiced Sliders, by Michael Psilakis

Make 1 dozen sliders


12 2 oz. beef patties

6 oz. Tsatziki (recipe below)

12 slider potato rolls

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

12 cornichons (optional)

12 frilly toothpicks

Gyro slider spice mix:

12 tbsp. Cumin

2 tbsp. Coriander

8 tbsp. Yellow mustard seed

2 1/2 tsp. Cloves

2 tbsp. Black cardamom

4 tbsp. Fennel

2 tbsp. Cinnamon

Combine all spices in mixing bowl, transfer to airtight container.


1. Make gyro spice & set aside.

2. Make Tsatziki sauce & store in refrigerator until ready to use.

3. Preheat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat and coat bottom of pan with

olive oil.

4. Season sliders on both sides with salt and pepper and dredge sliders in gyro

spice mixture.

5. In small batches of 3-4 patties sear sliders for approximately 1 minute per side. Allow to rest once cooked.

6. Remove excess grease with paper towel and repeat until all sliders are cooked.

7. To serve, place each slider on bottom of potato roll and top with dollop of Tsatziki

sauce and cover gently with bun top and cornichon. Spear with toothpick.

Tsatziki Sauce

Makes 1 pint:

1/2 English cucumber, peeled

5 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

2 shallots, thickly sliced

1/2 cup fresh dill

1 1/4 cups strained Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1. Cut the cucumber into very small pieces, even dice. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

2. In a food processor, combine the garlic, vinegar, shallots, and dill. Pulse until finely

chopped, but not pureed.

3. Add the mixture to the cucumbers; add the yogurt. Fold together with a rubber

spatula, adding the olive oil and lemon juice.

4. Season liberally with kosher salt and pepper, starting off with 1 tablespoon salt.

5. You can store the Tsatziki in a covered, clean jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Chef George Mendes

Salted Cod Scrambled with Egg, Crispy Potato and Black Olive, by George Mendes

Serves 4


¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Extra virgin olive oil as needed

¼ cup peeled shoestring, julienned Yukon gold potato

½ cup flaked desalted bacalao

4 large eggs

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½ thinly sliced small onion

2 thinly sliced garlic clove

Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

2 tbsp of chopped parsley leaves

¼ tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200°F. Place the olives on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and bake until totally dried and easy to crumble. Alternatively, use a dehydrator set at 145°F. Cool completely, then mince. You should have 2 tablespoons.

Fill a small saucepan with canola oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat to 375°F. Add the potatoes in batches to fry until golden brown and crisp, adjusting the heat to maintain the temperature and gently stirring to cook evenly. Drain on paper towels.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until blended. Reserve.

Heat a medium nonstick pan over low heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sweat, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the flaked cod and cook for 15 seconds, stirring, then add the beaten egg and a few strokes of white pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until just set but still wet. Fold in the parsley, lemon juice, add the olives and potatoes.

Serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Meeting and sampling the work of these two chefs was a terrific new discovery, and visiting their restaurants for the full experience of each one’s updated takes on their culinary ethnic heritages is something I eagerly look forward to. Alas, I’ll be chugging into the city on a swaying NJTransit rust bucket rather than in a luxury sedan, but I’ll always have the delicious memories. Thanks, Buick!

For a full recap of the event, check out JerseyBites editor Veronique Deblois’ post over at foodandwinechickie.com.


222 West 79th Street, between Broadway & Amsterdam




Aldea Restaurant

31 West 17th Street




Deanna Quinones is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Morris County. A freelance writer, blogger, and unrepentant chocolate addict, Deanna spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morristown, where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids. An experienced book marketer, award-winning greeting card writer, and entertainment writing dabbler, Deanna can be reached at deannaq@optimum.net. (photo credit Pete Genovese/The Star-Ledger)