Gallery: Behind the Scenes: Lavender and Honey Duck at Eleven Madison Park

Lavender and Honey Duck
Lavender and Honey Duck

The Lavender and Honey Duck has been on the menu for years, perfected over time. It's Chef Humm's signature dish, and could be said to have played a role in getting him where he is today. In brief, it's damn good.

Alas, poor Yorick!
Alas, poor Yorick!

Chef James Kent shows us the room where the ducks get hung. Given all the fates a dead duck could have, these are in particularly good hands.

All their ducks in a row
All their ducks in a row

The ducks are hung and aged for a minimum of 10 days.

All ready for prepping
All ready for prepping

Howdy.

Breaking down the duck
Breaking down the duck

The ducks get beheaded and befooted.

A fine specimen
A fine specimen

That duck is ready for anything.

More duck prep
More duck prep

The ducks get tied up in twine before meeting the spice rub.

All tied up
All tied up
A drizzle of honey
A drizzle of honey

They're then rubbed down with a healthy coating of honey.

Lavender and spice
Lavender and spice

Once coated with honey, the duck gets sprinkled with a mixture of lavender, cumin, coriander, and Sichuan peppercorns—a spice mix that's a large part of what makes the dish so brilliant.

Well-dressed
Well-dressed

The spices lend beautiful aromas and flavors, and add textural contrast as well.

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

A sprinkling of salt fills in all the gaps, and the bird is ready for the oven.

Out of the oven
Out of the oven

Check out that beautifully crisp honey- and lavender-coated skin.

Lavender garnish
Lavender garnish

A beautiful bouquet of lavender gets tied up...

A beautiful presentation
A beautiful presentation

...and politely inserted between the duck's legs.

The duck is presented to diners in its full glory before returning to the kitchen for plating.

Hammersmith copper cookware
Hammersmith copper cookware

The duck roasting pan and several other pieces of Eleven Madison Park's copper cookware are crafted just over the river by Brooklyn's Hammersmith, the last copper pot maker in the U.S.

Not your mother's tweezers
Not your mother's tweezers

Chef James Kent plating the garnishes. With tweezers, of course.

Carving the duck
Carving the duck

Chef Kent carefully carves out the breast meat...

Carving the duck
Carving the duck

...which gets sliced for plating.

Plating
Plating

While the duck remains the same, the garnishes change seasonally. Here quinoa is added to the plate, along with roasted apples and greens.

A drizzle of sauce
A drizzle of sauce
The final plate
The final plate

Everything comes together so beautifully—and deliciously. That is a well-prepared duck if ever I've seen one.

Duck leg confit
Duck leg confit

The duck legs are served as a decadent foie gras-laden confit, which is buried beneath a rich potato mousseline. This bears almost no resemblance to a potato and all the resemblance to rich, creamy aerated heaven.

Special bonus: dry ice!
Special bonus: dry ice!

Just as I was about to leave, a poof of dry ice caught my eye. I tried hard to resist the urge to investigate, but to no avail. Only good things come from dry ice. But what here? I MUST KNOW.

Frozen greek yogurt lollipops
Frozen greek yogurt lollipops

They turned out to be savory Greek yogurt pops. Well worth the detour.

De-moulding
De-moulding

Behind the epic puffs of dry ice, the pops are carefully removed from their moulds.

Greek yogurt pop
Greek yogurt pop

They're sprinkled with fried lentils...

Greek yogurt pop
Greek yogurt pop

...and a dash of curry powder. Perfect.

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20120413-201623-behind-the-scenes-eleven-madison-park-primary-image.jpg