It’s Tour De Bruell time again. No need to pack a suitcase or dig out your passport for this trip. All you need is a wallet stocked with cash or credit card. A promotional project dreamed up by chef and restaurateur Zack Bruell, it’s an invitation to dine competitively, eating out for a chance to win three fantastic culinary prizes.
food at Parallax photo by Dale Caldwell, Jamestown Group
Here’s how it works:
Have a fabulous dinner at any Zack Bruell restaurant — Parallax, Table 45, L'Albatros or Chinato — between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Ask for a Tour de Bruell ticket and get it stamped. Then get busy and do the same at his three other spots. Turn in your ticket when you pay the bill at your final stop. This gets you a commemorative t-shirt, featuring the 2011 Tour theme: “Get Your Zack On,” and puts you in the running for the more serious swag.
The first person at each restaurant to turn in a completed Tour de Bruell ticket earns a chauffeured progressive dinner for two, with one course at each of the four Zack Bruell restaurants. This happens at the midway point of the Tour, so there’s definitely an incentive to make reservations starting Right Now. That Zack’s no fool.
Chinato photo by Kevin G Reeves
Ten semi-finalists will be randomly selected from among all those who have done the entire tour. Along with a guest of their choice, this group gets a complimentary (yes — as in totally, completely free) wine tasting dinner at Table 45, featuring cuisine by Bruell and offerings by Moët & Chandon, the world’s largest champagne house. I was a media guest at a smaller version of this event — there were only 5 semifinalists chosen — last January. The meal was superb: oysters with Japanese mignonette; sushi; butternut squash ravioli in sage cream spike with truffle essence, Parmesan, and toasted hazelnuts; five-spice scallops with a crispy noodle cake; pulled duck confit and spinach salad; and crème de Bruell for dessert, all with appropriate wine pairings.
I sat next to a couple that described themselves as Zack groupies. Their enthusiasm for his food, they said — clearly proud that they were fans from the beginning — dated back to his days at Z Contemporary Cuisine, his first place, which opened in 1985. The male half of this duo added that he took a cooking class from the chef years ago and still uses what he learned.
The name of the grand prize winner is drawn from this group of semi-finalists and announced during their dinner. That exceptionally lucky person and seven of their bfo’s receive a four-course dinner, custom created and prepared by Chef Bruell in their home.
I’m not the gambling type, so this is my kind of contest. You can’t loose and there’s no risk. To enter and be a contender, all that’s required is four good meals at four good restaurants. If there’s a down side to that, I don’t see it. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that all these dining destinations have very inviting patios.
L'Albatros photo by Kevin G. Reeves