In Defense of Weird Food

Chefs no doubt commit many sins, some even in the kitchen. Yet when I spoke recently to Jehangir Mehta, the pastry chef at Aix on the Upper West Side, I was hard pressed to square his easygoing modest manner with the man whose work has been vilified as sadistic and just plain weird.

His crime? Creating challenging desserts. Against the usual multitude of molten chocolate cakes, crème brûlées and apple tarts, Mr. Mehta travels into parts unknown, offering daring couplings that, if nothing else, unleash the Don Rickles fantasies that lurk inside every critic.

One dessert in particular, licorice panna cotta, inspired particular ridicule. “Somebody described it as tasting like tar, and you need to brush your teeth right away,” Mr. Mehta said. “Others have said it tastes like tobacco. NY Times