I had a very specific goal in mind when I began planning “Sous Chefs, Road Food & Rioja,” the Pop-Up event that took place May 21 at the Orlando Harley-Davidson showroom. I wanted to demonstrate that the culinary talent in the kitchens of Central Florida goes deeper than the executive chef level.
Boy, did the chefs ever prove me right!
I had 10 terrifically talented chefs who also brought along several skillful coworkers and together they prepared an array of creative dishes that had the 150 guests struggling to name a favorite. More than a few times during the evening I had people say to me that they hadn’t eaten anything they didn’t love. That’s saying something.
And to go along with the wonderful food were 36 or so wines from Rioja Spain from such wineries as Bodegas Muga, Beronia, Artadi, Remirez de Pescina, and Marques de Riscal.
The evening was a fundraiser for scholarships for the American Culinary Federation and the Give Kids the World Village. To add to the funds, guests were encouraged to “vote” for their favorites among the chefs by dropping money into a bag at each station (just like an actual election!). Jason Wolfe of K restaurant in College Park got the most votes for his smoked barbecue beef short ribs, root vegetable puree, Georgia peach & sweet onion spicy barbecue sauce, with wild ramp and micro herb salad.
Other dishes included:
Andrew Claytor, Txokos Basque Kitchen: Cheese Steak Bocadillo, Old hearth hoagie, Ribeye, foie, Serrano, Manchego, Smoked tomato aioli, Basque banderia.
Alexi Acevedo, David Ramirez Chocolates: 3 varieties of Eclairs: Salted Caramel, Chocolate Raspberry and Exotic.
Tom Hill, Victoria & Albert’s: Serrano ham and Berbere spice crusted Berkshire Pork Crouton, with Salsify and braised endive.
Ryan Vargas, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop: Porcini scented duck breast with corn shoots, mâché, and armanthe, English pea essence and a spring onion vinaigrette.
Derek Peters, Cress: Brown butter toasted brioche, pigs head torchon, local quail egg, muenster bechamel.
Lucas Reid, Citrus Restaurant: Fried Green Tomatoes with Korean red pepper braised Berkshire pork belly, pimento cheese, tomato marmalade & romesco.
Jason Campbell, Cask & Larder: Crawfish and shrimp boudin, fermented creole mustard, with a salad of crispy pig ears and mustard greens, charred ramp vinnagrette. Also served with a house made root beer.
Reanna Reyes, The Rusty Spoon: Charred octopus, olive salad and peperonata on ciabatta.
Norman Grant, FishBones: Keys Lobster&Shrimp Ceviche with Pineapple-Coconut Cream and Wood Grilled Local Trigger Fish with Brown Butter- Scallop puree and a Crispy wonton cup.
Special thanks to Anne and Steve Deli, owners of the Orlando Harley-Davidson dealership, for allowing us to take over their showroom for the night, and to their event coordinator, Jennifer Armstrong, for helping with logistics. Also Joe Alfano, preseident of the American Culinary Federation, who showed up to the event and asked how he could help, and just like chefs do, helped.
And, of course, to our friends at Rioja, especially Dhane Chesson and Christine Steffens.
Here are some of the photos from the evening courtesy of the folks at Rioja.
Thanks for popping in!