Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Staycation Dinner at Moxie

If they were handing out free trips to New York City, I’d elbow the young and the elderly out of the way so I could be at the head of the line. Once I got there, my primary activity would be eating with some arts and culture pit stops along the way. But alas, no one’s offering me such a no-cost junket and it’s a staycation summer for me. From what I hear, I’m not the only one.

So imagine my delight when I learned that Chef Jonathan Bennett and the folks at Moxie have arranged to bring a little taste of New York to Cleveland. Actually it’s a taste of Istanbul by way of Midtown. On Monday night, August 2 the acclaimed master of Turkish cuisine Orhan Yegen will step into the Beachwood kitchen to cook a five course dinner. Bennett and staff will get hands on experience preparing such traditional specialties as tarama (fish roe spread), cacik (yogurt and cucumbers) and lamb shanks. Those lucky enough to get a place at the table will be served dishes that echo the menu at Sip Sak, Yegen’s Manhattan restaurant. (You can also follow his entertaining blog here.)

Yegen is famous for his food which he’s been making in this country since 1977 at more than a dozen different restaurants he’s opened (and sold, closed, or left). Over the years he’s earned kudos from the James Beard Foundation, Food and Wine Magazine, Gourmet, Newsday, Forbes and a long list of other publications. Yegen is equally famous- or to be more accurate, infamous- for his opinionated, unedited and eminently quotable remarks. The media typically describe him as a quirky character- that’s code for unpredictable, highly entertaining, and occasionally insulting. I think he sounds like a fascinating fellow who operates without a script or handlers, and that rare sort of person that is willing to tell you what he really thinks.

The prix fixe dinner starts at 7 PM. Cost is a reasonable $50 per person including wine pairings plus tax and gratuity. Reservations required. Call 216-831-5599. Maybe Orhan Yegen, who dislikes being called a chef, will have time to visit with guests, an experience that has the potential to be memorable. And no doubt the always charming Jonathan Bennett will make the rounds of the room to insure that everyone is happy. This could be the first dinner in a series: Moxie may host more of these events featuring out of town chefs bringing their style and skills to our town. It's a whole new way to think about culinary tourism.

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