The scene, food & drink during StarChefs’ Rising Star VIP Hour
This year’s StarChefs Rising Stars took place at the historic Liberty Theater in Times Square. (Looking back two years ago, it was at the now defunct Bar Basque.)
Chef German Calle of Petrossian Restaurant New York created three passed hors d’oeuvres during the VIP hour featuring Petrossian’s legendary caviar. The lobster risotto with Petrossian caviar powder was deliciously creamy and briny. The tsar-cut salmon with Papierusse was silky, smoky and briny from the intriguing sous vided caviar sheet on top (the Papierusse). The Australian Waygu Beef Tartar with Royal Transmontanus Caviar showcased the caviar the best.
Some of the winners of 2013 Rising Stars
This year’s winners (compared to previous years) recognized a couple of Brooklyn restaurants, as most of you might be aware of, Brooklyn is the hotbed dining destination as more young chefs are making it on their own. Of the Brooklyn chefs, I’m only familiar with Chef Justin Hilbert of Gwynnett St. (I know I have work to do.) But at least, I’m familiar with the majority of Manhattan establishments.
Of course, you want to know what we ate. So here are some highlights from the tasting gala:
The easiest one to love (for me, at least) was the Diver Scallop, Celery Root, Black Truffle, Bone Marrow, and Sea Urchin by PJ Calapa of Ai Fiori. Chef Calapa won me with that fresh uni (sea urchin) but the small log of combination of the luxurious black truffle, scallop and bone marrow was incredibly seductive.
Bar Boulud’s Charcuterie by Aurélien Dufour
Bar Boulud‘s charcuterie by Aurélien Dufour was old school French but modern in terms of flavor. I loved Dufour’s rich, pork-y Pâté de Campagne that the small slices does go a long way.
The Peekytoe Crab Crostini, Cumin Mayonnaise, Radish, and Nasturtium Vinaigrette by Justin Bazdarich of Speedy Romeo took a while to plate, as the hungry crowds were slightly impatient to grab the incomplete plated crostinis from his assistants who just topped the crostini with crab meat and left it on the table. Thankfully, the chef caught it almost in time and said they’re not done and artfully topped them in edible, spicy nasturtiums, shaved radish slices and drizzled in nasturtium vinaigrette. When he completed plating that batch, the hard work and waiting a minute, the plates disappeared in less than 10 seconds.
The beautiful Scallops, Sauerkraut and Cabbage Ice by Matt Lightner of Atera was probably the most misunderstood by the general consensus of the crowd, as there were a number of plates sitting on the table while I was around his station. The one-bite snack was ice-cold, sour, herbaceous yet had a slightly creamy center that made it a relative palate cleanser from all the bolder, richer foods served around Lightner’s station.
The Cervena Venison Porchetta, Whipped Lardo, Ramps, and Pistachios by Hillary Sterling (one of StarChefs Rising Stars previous winners in 2011) of The Beatrice Inn was delicious and quite seasonal with the sublty onion-y ramps with the tender, delicious venison.
Ashley Brauze of DB Bistro Moderne offered Strawberry Chiffon, Lime Chiffon, Strawberry Mousse, Strawberry Meringue, Rhubarb, Confit Orange, and Basil. This was beautifully plated and it just screamed strawberries in the most elegant way with bright highlights of rhubarb, orange and lime.
Parsley Cake, Fennel-Black Garlic Gelato, and Meyer Lemon Granita by Katy Peetz of Blanca blurred the lines of savory and sweet and made an herbaceous parsley cake and the gelato was still generally sweet even though the flavors are savory. It pushes the boundaries of what dessert is and it’s done masterfully.
Cucumber Ice Cream, Jasmine Cream, Pineapple, Chartreuse Foam, and Smoked Cashew Nougatine by Malcolm Livingston II of wd~50 was very refreshing from the cucumber ice cream that my friend who went to this event with me actually like it (and is a cucumber hater). The chartreuse and jasmine cream, pineapple, and crunchy nougatine added delicate touches of sweet and floral that tied the dessert well.
Jillian Vose of Death + Company’s cocktails
The two delicious and potent cocktails we kept coming back to were the Morning Buzz and Sure Shot Death + Company. The Sure Shot (in a martini glass) made of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, ancho chili-infused Dolin Rouge Vermouth, Bols Genever, Galliano Ristretto, demerara syrup, and orange bitters reminds me, in a vague way, a spicy Manhattan. The Morning Buzz mixed of Cognac H, Ron Zacapa 23-year Rum, Acacia Honey Syrup, Orgeat, Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Honey Nut Cheerio-infused Cream, Egg Yolk, and Agostura Bitters would be a dessert cocktail for me as it’s sweet, viscous and a good nightcap.
To view more photos of this event, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
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