StarChefs Rising Stars Gala 2011
This year’s StarChefs Rising Stars Gala 2011 took place at Bar Basque. (If you do recall, last year was at Maritime Parc in Liberty State, New Jersey.) Much closer to home and it’s a really nice sheltered outdoor space to be at that beautiful evening.
The honored chefs, mixologists and sommeliers came out this evening to cook their best dish and for a few, pair the food with great cocktails, wines and sakes.
If you’re inquiring who are this year’s Rising Stars, they were the following:
Aaron Chambers, Boulud Sud
Hillary Sterling, A Voce
Jesse Schenker, Recette
Vikas Khanna, Junoon
Hooni Kim, Danji
Adam Schop, Nuela
Jenny McCoy, Craft
Shawn Gawle, Corton
Shuna Lydon, Peels
John Mooney, Bell Book & Candle
Joe Isidori, Southfork Kitchen
Joe Campanale, Dell’Anima, ellabess, and L’Artusi
If you are inquiring why they’re chosen, please read StarChefs’ page for their explanation. If you want to know who is who on the photo above, just click on the photo and hover over the tags on that photo.
Much congratulations to all of them, as they are very well deserved. I am excited for those who are from young restaurants and the few who are fairly new names to me. I do intend to eat at their restaurants if I have not made the trip over there yet.
On to the food and drinks… While there were many delicious bites and beverages made throughout the evening, I do have several favorites. (My list does not have any particular order but they’re my memorable bites.)
Australian rack of lamb “au poivre” with buttermilk blue cheese fenugreek from Chef Joe Isidori of Southfork Kitchen was the heartiest of the food served. Even though I was dressed up in a cocktail dress and stilettos, this dish was meant to be eaten in a primal way – with hands. No eco-friendly fork would wield this lamb chop and has to be picked up with hands to eat. It seems perverse for this kind of party but I’m fine with it. Anyway, it tasted very good. The chop was herbaceous yet still has some of its game-y flavor and the sauce found on the bottom of the plate was silky and has a slight pungent flavor from the blue cheese.
Octopus a la plancha, Marcona almonds, arugula, and sherry vinaigrette from Chef Aaron Chambers of Boulud Sud was pretty much as Mediterranean as it could be. The octopus tentacles were tender and garlic-y. The orange segments brightened and sweetened up the dish.
Well made cocktails from Damon Boelte of Prime Meats (top two: The Sidewalker and Original Highland Park cocktail) and Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park (from bottom left: English Heat and The Brogue)
Mixologists Damon Boelte of Prime Meats and Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park did a very fine job creating great drinks that suited the different cocktail preferences. Boelte’s The Sidewalker was very easy to drink. It’s not too sweet from the maple syrup used and a bit fruity from the bonded apple brandy and apple cider vinegar used. The original Highland Park cocktail was beautiful for its layered colors but it does have its dark side from the use of Highland Park’s scotch. Robitschek’s English Heat was wonderfully light and it had a raw pepper flavor background with a strong kick of spiciness midway. The Brogue, which also featured the Highland Park scotch whiskey, was nicely balanced with the honey-infused lavender syrup yet retained the scotch’s smoky flavor.
From the host restsaurant’s chef, Yuhi Fujinaga of Bar Basque he served the Spanish mackerel escabeche. It kept that simple Asian style of minimalist technique but the freshness of the oily mackerel shined.
For the high brow dessert, my favorite was from Shawn Gawle of Corton, serving black sesame royale, concord grape-yuzu granite, and cocoa nib-sesame crumble. He pre-made the royale but froze the grape-yuzu granite on the spot, as you see on the photo above. The dessert was not too sweet, crunchy from the hard frozen, fruity granite and nutty crumble, smooth and creamy from the royale. The different textures, temperatures, and flavors harmonizes when you eat it all in one bite.
For the slightly rustic dessert but no less delicious was from Jenny McCoy of Craft. She served raspberry-pistachio clafoutis, lavender ice cream, pistachio nougatine. This particular dessert makes me think of desserts I would curl up to on chilly nights. It’s comforting yet has sophisticated flavors of sweet and tart raspberries, pistachio, and delicately floral lavender ice cream.
I had a great time that evening – filled with great food and good company from many chefs and food writers I’ve met from the past few days at ICC as well as ones I’ve known for a while.
To see more photos of this gala, please click through my slideshow below:
StarChefs Rising Stars Gala 2011
839 6th Avenue (between W 29th & 30th St)
New York, NY 10001