Food, Photography and Lifestyle Blog

Jamming with Sam Mason

Richard Ekkebus and his team of Chefs at the Mandarin Oriental’s Restaurant Amber, a 2 Michelin Star establishment of outstanding standards. Richard invited me to come and do a Photo-shoot “in the heat of the night”. I can tell you thats a big challenge, no one can stop for 5 seconds as orders need to be fired, so there is no being nice to the photographer. Lucky I know the workings of a professional kitchen well enough so I know a bit where to be at what times.

So I ended up with a neat set of action shots where all the Chefs were really great sports, plus some studio shots of the individual dishes.

If you havent given yourself the Gourmet treatment lately, you should come here once and try his amazing food. I was also lucky to meet there Guest Pastry Chef Sam Mason, a little more about him can be read on this blog here:

I will let the pictures and Richard Ekkebus speak for them-self now.

Jamming with Sam Mason in Amber By Richard Ekkebus

There is something about cooking, something in kitchens that I only found when playing Rugby when I was younger: a form camaraderie, the willingness to achieve something in a team, to exchange knowledge, passion in order to evolve & to become a better team player & technician. I for that reason love to invite talented chefs, some former colleagues, Former chefs of mine & other friends I know or some I do not know but admire. We have had many talented chefs in Amber over the past few years of existence: Nicolas Lebec, Robert Kranenborg, Hans Snijders, Gilles Marchal, Jean Francois Piege, Jonnie Boer, Thierry Marx, Didier Elena, Christian Le Squer just to name a few & last week Sam Mason. All these great chefs came to Amber & shared their techniques unconditionally. Who said chefs have secrets, in my opinion there is nothing as inspiring as sharing your views, your concepts & your  ideas with your counterparts, it will push you even further & make you dig even deeper to do it better & different that anyone else. It is an amazing opportunity for my team to see that I am not the only nut case pushing to become better tomorrow than we where today….

I have been a fan over the past 5 years of wd~50 in NYC for many years, a fan of their boundless creativity. Wd~50 opened at 50 Clinton Street, between Rivington and Stanton, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in NYC. The dream team for many years of their young existence was Wylie Dufresne Chef Owner,  Eben Freeman behind the bar as the gifted Mixologist & Sam Mason in Pastry

We have been working over the past year extensively with Eben, he has been involved with great events in our MO bar & Amber Restaurant, always driven by booze, great booze. Eben has been elementary to evolve & perfect the technique of our Amber & MOBar Mixologist team.

Sam is today considered one of the most creative chefs working in America. As the former pastry chef at  wd-50, Sam Mason made a name for himself creating unlikely dishes such as cocoa caviar and miso ice cream. When he decided to open his own restaurant, the tattooed 33-year-old did so in unusually brash fashion, detailing the stops and starts of the process (Construction delay! Liquor license application red tape!) By the time it opened in SoHo in September 2007, Tailor was one of the most hyped restaurants to hit New York that year. Its savory and sweet dishes like chocolate-miso-glazed cod, sesame ice cream paired with ancho chile caramel and peanut “soil,” and Bazooka bubblegum–flavored cocktails sparked polarizing reactions. Food sites like Eater and Mouthfuls attracted comments ranging from “Sam Mason is my f…… hero” to “What is this Fear Factor?” Sam & Eben became both even more intriguing & clear the boys where ready to push the envelope even further.

During our highly successful All Star Mixologist Diner in Amber in June where Eben along with Jim Meehan & Linden Pride created Cocktails along with a 8 course menu by myself, the idea came up to bring Sam Mason in Hong Kong to do a one off exclusive diner event in Amber. Sam & Eben had closed the shop in August: so August was the month to go for.

For this event we prepared an exciting eight-course tasting menu. In order to make the event more challenging for us and more exciting for our guests, we took a novel approach: half of the menu will be cooked by Amber’s culinary team, the other half by Sam. Amber’s team cooked four savoury dishes with fruits while Sam prepared four desserts with vegetables.

After having created quite a storm with our previous Mixologist Cocktail Pairing Dinner, and due to popular demand we brought back Eben Freeman too. Eben created two special cocktails during the event and wines for the evening where carefully selected and paired by Patrick Frawley, our sommelier. I had send personalized emails to our regular foodie following & the event was full in 2 hours, obliging us to spill over in the dining room. The event was well received & the cocktail making at the table by Eben was highly entertaining. I have attached the menu along with brilliant pictures by Marco Veringa that will tell you the culinary journey of the evening.

Menu Attached


Sam Mason, is one of the most creative chefs working in America today.

Having honed his craft at some of the most prestigious kitchens in the country including Palladin, Union Pacific, Atlas, Park Avenue Café and most notably as the pastry chef at the renowned WD-50, Mason is known for his amazing culinary vision and gift in combining unusual and innovative ingredients that surprise, delight and challenge the palate.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Mason was educated at Johnson & Wales University.

Eben Freeman, a native New Yorker, has worked in NYC’s food and beverage industry for two decades. During this time he has worked with the likes of Pino Luongo, Jean-Louis Palladin, Jimmy Bradley, Kurt Gutenbrunner, and Danny Meyer.

In 2002, Freeman joined chefs Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason at wd-50 and it was there that Freeman’s “chef-driven” style of bartending was fully realized. He has been invited to participate in numerous esteemed seminars such as Bols Liqueurs’ molecular mixology seminar in Paris with noted molecular gastronomist, Herve This. Ever since, Freeman has been pushing the boundaries of the cocktail and has endeavored to challenge perceptions with his innovative and unexpected approach. He continues to be commissioned by liquor brands, such as Bacardi, to develop flavors and create signature cocktails.

Currently, Freeman works with chef Sam Mason at Tailor where he has created one of the most celebrated cocktail programs in the city. He makes his home with his wife and two children in Harlem, New York City.

We have this very exciting dinner event this Saturday and I am certain that a fine gourmet like yourself would find this an excellent opportunity to discover the talents of our guest chef Sam Mason from tailors in NYC & according to forbes magazine the best mixologist in NYY; Eben Freeman.

More information on Sam Mason at:


4 responses

  1. globalinternational

    hmm nice photo collection.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:25 am

  2. Wow Marco, those are some pretty cool shots! Well done in such difficult circumstances! Did you shoot the finished dishes on a separate day in the studio or did you make a studio setup in the kitchen?

    August 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm

  3. cosmopolitanblog

    HI Simone,
    The Chef Richard Ekkebus is also a Dutchman!

    difficult, yes!

    brought my 4 most important lense…….but didnt dare to set up brollies in the kitchen pass…..also was worried if I did how it would work, as everything is stainless steel.

    anyway it was a fun learning thing, but surely i dont think i did so well……..dont know how to shoot well and not so grainy images at high iso.

    anyhow…..staff was a blast so expressions where there and yes in the back i set up a small studio space………

    but i got many compalinst my images are toooooooo toooooo much blown out

    August 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  4. wow great photos!

    August 18, 2009 at 5:16 pm

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