Monday, June 29, 2015

Five Stars and Full Stomachs

Talk about a gut-buster.

This weekend saw the year's biggest influx in culinary talent with the annual Five Star Sensation food and wine celebration on Saturday, June 27, held in three giant tents on the grounds of Tri-C Eastern Campus. A benefit for the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center (raising more than $2.3 million), this is perhaps the most exciting event for attendees since its inception in 1987, and among the busiest for restaurateurs. 
Guests waited as long as an hour to try
Symon's famous beef-cheek pierogies.
Hosted this year by Cleveland sweetheart Michael Symon (Lola), the event always draws lots of "oooohs" and "mmmms." But it's difficult to appreciate just how much work goes on behind the tents.

"There were [more than] 2,000 tickets sold," said Karen Small, chef and owner of the Flying Fig in Ohio City, who served burrata with caponata and garlic and jambon beurre (a delightfully rustic French ham sandwich). "We probably made too much."
About 2,300 people attended the 2015 Five Star Sensation.

Behind the smiles and crisp white chef jackets were rows upon rows of food warmers, portable ovens, stovetops and prep tables stacked with pans of every shape and size, and each chef came with an entourage to help grill, sauce, assemble and serve each meticulous plate.

Matthew Mytro and Paul Minnillo of Flour in Moreland Hills echoed Small's sentiments. Quickly, Mytro said over his shoulder, "It's been so busy. There are just so many people," as he continued to hand out his crispy-coated eggplant and zucchini meatballs.

Chef Douglas Katz's spring pea panna cotta
with smoked salmon, radish and pea tendrils
The star-studded event featured many of Cleveland's heavy-hitters — such as Rocco Whalen, Eric Williams, Douglas Katz and Jonathon Sawyer — but the event drew nearly 50 chefs in total, from Honolulu to Dallas to Boston, not to mention another three dozen vintners and importers of wine, Champagne and port. Know your stuff? Get ready for some name-dropping:

Traci Des Jardins (Jardiniere, San Francisco), Marc Forgione (American Cut, New York), Paul Kahan (The Publican, Chicago), Hubert Keller (Fleur by Hubert Keller, Las Vegas), Ken Oringer (Toro, Boston), Charles Pan (The Slanted Door, San Francisco), Aaron Sanchez (Paloma, Stamford, Connecticut), Francois Payard (Payard Patisserie & Bistro, New York), Daniel Skurnick (Buddakan, New York). The list goes on.

We're used to seeing the headliners milling about, directing their teams from afar, mingling with fellow chefs and trying some of the other dishes of the evening. Not so this night.

As the crowds thinned and the cook tents began packing up, Small took off her apron and looked around at all the tastes she'd missed. 

"The Slanted Door is probably one of my favorite places in the world, and I've traveled a lot," said Small, a little wistfully.

1 comment:

Peace in Pieces said...

The beer selection at this gallery space for rent NYC was great and rotates often. Everyone who works there makes you feel welcome. They remember your favorite drink and you will be glad to tweet about them.