Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! Party!

Chef Jonathon Sawyer has a soft spot for French food, wine, and holidays. So he’s partnering with the local Slow Food convivium to throw a Bastille Day party at his restaurant The Greenhouse Tavern downtown on East 4th Street. For $60 (gratuity and cash bar not included), you get to storm the buffet table and dine on Gallic inspired fare on Monday, July 13 from 6-9 pm.

It’s a potluck with all the dishes prepared by a stellar line up of Cleveland chefs. Well, almost all the dishes. I’m making one. Sawyer sweet talked me into it. How he got me to agree remains a mystery. I started having serious second thoughts the minute I said yes. I’m a rank amateur, a dabbler, a guppy among whales in this undertaking. How could something I cooked be put side by side with stuff made by the likes of Paul Minnillo, Dante Boccuzzi, Steve Schimoler and Sawyer himself? Was I crazy? Was I prepared to be utterly humiliated?

My only protection was to be anonymous. I extracted a promise that there’d be no little sign with my name on it affixed to my contribution. I assumed he understood that meant I wanted to maintain a very low profile. Apparently not: he included my name in the list of participants on the restaurant’s blog .
Photo: a dish from last year's celebration

Following our phone conversation, thinking about what to prepare occupied far too many of my waking hours. But I’ve finally decided that my best bet is to give up any notion of attempting to impress anyone. I'm opting for something relatively uncomplicated that I’ve made many times before. I’m not saying what it is just in case my dish ends up the being the night’s wallflower, the one nobody chooses, still there after every other serving platter and bowl is picked clean. Now I’m struggling with the question of garnish…my usual sprig or two of parsley hardly seems sufficient. But my team didn’t get high marks for presentation during my one- and only- week of training at the Culinary Institute of America’s boot camp for beginners.

No matter how my dish turns out, this is sure to be great event. Reservations required, 216.393.4302
Photo: Sawyer check's out what's left on the Bastille buffet, 2008

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