Probably my favorite thing about my job is that I work with a big ol’ bunch of foodies.
These guys are just as bad as me, and this should not be in any way construed as “damning with faint praise” or anything “cutesy”-complimentary. These are people rabidly intense about food and they mean business. The arrival of the latest Saveur or Food & Wine magazine is like a bloody hunk of steak dropped on the floor of a dog kennel. Admit to any one of our chefs that you dined at a “trendy” restaurant, and they’ll waterboard you without hesitation until you spill the minutest detail about your experience. The day after a Top Chef episode, the hours of debate in the endive kitchen would lead you we’d had been hand-selected by Bravo to sit at the Judge’s Table with Padma, Gail and Tom. And no, I don’t really think Richard Blais cares what we think about his bacon ice cream, but listening to us (not recommended), you’d bet money we thought we’d be doing him a solid to let him know.
Yes, Endive, the food geek stops here.
Chief of our culinary bad boys is Executive Chef, Jason Starnes, who blows me away with his sheer passion for creating incredible food experiences. Jason honed his craft (among many places) at the renowned Johnson and Wales culinary school in Charleston, but he brings more than a classical education to the table. What I love about Jason is how he lights up while talking about heirloom corn hand-raised by his daddy or a locally-cured Berkshire bacon. He is truly inspired by food and sharing it with others and you can sense his joy and craftsmanship in everything he creates.
So, may I say it was much like a (insert-your-favorite-winter-religious-holiday-here) morning when we got a call last week from a very high-end client for a Farm-to-Table-themed formal dinner. Very little direction: all they asked for were for poached scallops to start and a pork tenderloin for the entree – simply to make everything “fresh, light” and summery”- chef’s choice.
Pair it with the appropriate wines.
Make it spectacular.
From the excitement, you’d have thought someone handed us
frozen margaritas keys to a new car.
I ran for the computer, Jason reached for his favorite cookbooks and the collaboration began (well, it was mostly Jason, but like Shake-N-Bake, “Ahhh helped!”). What we came up with was so stunning and delicious, both visually and gustatorily, I had to share it with you!
Butler Passed Hors D’oeuvres
Deviled Quail Eggs with Pine Street Market Bacon “Flakes”
Fried Green Tomato and Crab Cake “Slider” with Red Bell Pepper Remoulade
Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna on Cucumber Disc with Wasabi Aioli
Vanilla and Olive Oil Poached Asparagus
Shaved Fennel and Citrus Salad, Rosemary-Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre ‘Les Baronnes’ 2009
Butter Poached Sea Scallops
Heirloom Tomato Concasse, Diced Avocado, Crushed Pistachio and Pistachio Frico
Droin ‘Vaillons’ Chablis 1er Cru 2009
Intermezzo: Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Sherry-Blackberry Lacquered Georgia Pork Tenderloin
Sweet Potato Nettle, Heirloom Creamed Corn, Summer Minted Pea Puree, Wilted Cahaba Farms Spinach
Domaine Serene ‘Evenstad’ 2006 Pinot Noir
Assorted Sweet Grass Dairy Cheeses
Fresh Sliced Pear, Fig Preserves, Fresh Seasonal Fruit, Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pecans, Artisan Cracker
Duo of Chilled Honeydew and Strawberry Soup
Goat Cheese and Honey Gelato, Pink Peppercorn Tuille, Basil Syrup
Adami ‘Bosco di Gica’ Brut Prosecco DOCG
Yes, the client was thrilled. Look at those pictures! Can you imagine any other response?
Food geeks rule! Whoo hoo! Nana, nana nayahhh.