Hot Chef: Matt Aita, Le Philosophe


Credit: Miles Dixon

Some nights, Matt Aita, executive chef of the French bistro Le Philosophe, can create up to 30 plates of his specialty, duck a l’orange. The dish transcends its retro past in the competent hands of Aita, who got his start in French stalwarts Le Bernardin and Daniel (he eventually rose up the ranks to become sous chef at Jean-Georges.) His next chapter in French dining? Creating his French mainstays at the decidedly more accessible NoHo hotspot Le Philosophe. Here, this week’s hot chef shares his philosophy on creating his own venture.

Your duck a l’orange is the runaway hit of Le Philosophe. Can you tell us more about making this dish hot again?
Duck a l’orange is perceived as a really retro dish that’s been done too many times and not very well. People have tried to reinvent it too many times and everyone just got sick of it. It usually ends up being too sweet with a candied sauce — it’s  just not very attractive. But when I approached it, I didn’t want to mess with it too much. I quickly found it’s all about the sauce. The duck is a duck. As long as it has crispy skin, it’s gonna be delicious. As far as the accompaniment, I chose turnips, because, frankly I love duck and turnips.

How did you design the menu at Le Philosophe – is it traditionally French?
Well, we did some pasta and risotto, some things like that are on the menu that aren’t French. But, it’s the ingredients and the techniques that are. I think that’s the French way – it’s almost a military discipline. The French had to organize these techniques and the flavor combinations, and to really focus on how to treat ingredients, how to cook ingredients, things like that. I think that’s why the French have really excelled. And that’s what I try to do here.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


Leech therapy: Bloodsuckers in Brooklyn

The Old-World practice of leech therapy makes a comeback in New York.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.