|Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography 2013|
The meal started as all meals should, with pickle tots – a signature dishes prepared by executive chefs Mike and Pat Sheerin. Then the bowls were passed to the ladies who executed an eight-course meal. Each of the featured chefs along with their apprentice prepared one savory and one sweet course. The influence of their sugar-centric training was evident in the elegant composition of the savory plates, while subsequent dessert courses shied away from over-indulgence by serving non-traditional flavors such as buckwheat ice cream and potato puree.
What were we eating?
Chef Rosario Sanchez, a Chicago native, traveled the farthest – making a trip from Noma in Copenhagen for the event. She tapped in Carol Choi from Relae. They served a thin slice of beef heart with tangy currants. Bringing in a bit of the exotic for their desserts, an intensely bitter radicchio sorbet paired with elderflower granite and shaved pine nuts. An equally unexpected trio was warm potato puree with plus preserve and kernel cream. The odd flavor combinations were ambitions, but maybe too foreign for our Midwestern palates.
Chef Dana Cree of Blackbird and chef Anna Shovers from The Publican represented Chicago. The duo began with rye porridge – heart-warming comfort food made elegant with thinly sliced apples, pickled onions and crème fraiche. Cree served a dessert currently available on the menu at Blackbird. Taking inspiration from instant hot chocolate, she served roasted chestnut ice cream with vanilla poached pears. Shovers took a less sugary route with chestnut and buckwheat cake with caramelized milk. The pair of desserts worked as well together as the pair of chefs.
Finally, with compost cookies in tow, chef Christina Tosi arrived from Momofuku Milk Bar. She selected chef Lisa Ludwinski of soon-to-open Sister Pie in Detroit as her accomplice. Their savory course was also comfort-driven with Cuban pork butt served in a mustard broth. The broth, with its tangy flavor and smooth consistency was the star of the dish. On the sweet side, both highlighted cheese. Tosi served a pungent stilton with pumpkin ganache, while Ludwinski paired a pear hand-pie with goat cheese. The funky chesses were an unexpected compliment to the seasonal flavors in both desserts.
In case diners had not passed out into a food coma, they each left with a bag of cookies made by the evening’s pastry chefs. If you are suffering from a little cookie envy, check out the photos of the controlled chaos in the kitchen last night.