It was summer. I was tired of the food business. I was tired of writing. So I stopped doing both for a season. I did something else. I traveled. A look at my iPhone screen capture gives you an idea how far and wide I went. I spent time in airports, and I ate airport food. Instead of telling you about it, I’ll show you instead.
Minneapolis International (MSP)
San Francisco International (SFO)
Kansas City International (MCI)
Denver International (DEN)
Most nights are not like this. Most nights we food careerists work in the shadows, toil in anonymity, and take great pains in perfecting that strange high-wire act of omnipresence and never-being-seen. And then there are nights like these, events when it’s all about the chefs, all about the sommeliers, the servers, too, when we’re asked to come out from behind the curtain and take the proverbial stage. And when we do that right, we’re asked to take a bow. Last Saturday evening was such a night. Eight nationally-celebrated chefs converged on one kitchen to laugh, drink, and yes, work hard to dazzle two hundred hungry guests with culinary magic. Think of television’s Super Friends and the Hall of Justice. Or say this aloud: Wonder Twin powers activate!
Each chef took a course. Spike Gjerde (Woodberry Kitchen), Scott Drewno (The Source), and Adam Sobel (Bourbon Steak) did hors d’oeuvres. Celina Tio (Julian) did oysters. Bryan Voltaggio (Volt) did pumpernickel radiatori. Paul Kahan and David Posey (Blackbird, and pictured above) did squab. Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve) did lamb. RJ Cooper (Rogue 24) did dessert. It was the kind of night where you had to pinch yourself at your own good fortune. The kind of night where what you do is hardly work at all. Rather, it’s about living in the moment, enjoying the glow, and basking in a pure and simple joy of being a (non) celebrity in this business. Above all else, it reminds us just why we got in this crazy, mixed-up food thang to begin with.
Above is the plating line featuring chefs Armstrong, Voltaggio, and Tio avec squab. Below is the chef’s table with the added delight of one RJ Cooper, replete with wine, cheese, and other substances (all legal) to promote further misadventure. Read more on RJ’s transcendental Rogue 24 at www.foodrevolutionmanifesto.blogspot.com . And, why yes, those are re-fried fried chicken skins you see in the bottom image, courtesy of Chef Sobel, and more addictive than any substance known to man, woman, and child.