Boston is a fine scene for healthy competition between friends. On Thursday of last week, Chef Louis DiBiccari, previously of Sel de La Terre and currently mastermind of underground dinner events, hosted another Chef Louis Night. The latter is a fine event, designed to spotlight up and coming chefs and their ability to cook en mass and under pressure...in the friendliest sense:)
Held at Jerry Remy's in Fenway, the event started at 6 pm with an hour of mingling and hors d'oeuvres presented by Chef Jacqueline Kelly of Jerry Remy's. Drink ticket in hand my friend and I picked our wine and eventually made it to our seat at a long table.
The evening is set around four courses, two by each chef. The competitors: Jason Cheek of KO Prime and Brandon Arms of Garden at the Cellar. The maker of each dish is kept secret and our menus serve as score sheets.
Up first, a delicious Striploin from Pineland farms accopmanied by corn purée, king oyster mushrooms and chimicurri.
This dish was really phenomenal, the tastes of everything melded together in perfect unison, each supporting the other. The meat itself was delicious, tender and juicy, cooked to perfection. I gave it a four, but if it had been later in the order...a five could have been easily justified.
Second came the poultry, Roasted Quail with beets, farro and garden tomato. For a large party, this is a challenging dish and I found it to be a bit dry and not altogether that appeasing....it got a two.
Third was a grilled pork tenderloin with summer ragout, squash and bacon. This dish was very tasty, I am not a pork person and quite enjoyed it. The two types of pig definitely met nicely between the summer tastes of sweet corn and fresh yellow squash. There was a bit of inconsistency between the plates. I tried one piece from one plate and was disappointed whereas a second slice from another plate was far superior. I gave it a three.
Finally, and the true pièce de résistance was the all-beef slider. This little guy came almost as an afterthought to most people, who thought that a burger could not possibly compete with the other dishes thus far presented...I think we were all proven wrong. This slider was powerful in every sense of the term. It was juicy and cooked to a beautiful medium/medium rare. Atop the burger came onions, chicarrone, arugula and a foie mayo.
Here's a look inside...I really loved this dish and as anyone can attest: there is really nothing like a good burger. I could have eaten seven, but unfortunately, there was not much in the way of extra food...or what extra there was was destined to Lovin' Spoonfuls, a fabulous organisation that redistributes food to local crisis centers and soup kitchens...so I suppose that's alright:)
Here is the final outcome of my meal. I think I was pretty fair. In the end, Jason Cheek won. His dishes were the first and third and I think he definately delivered two consistently strong items, whereas Brandon blew everyone out of the water with his burger but slipped up a bit with the Quail.
The dessert, provided by Cakes by Erin was the only thing that really disappointed. They were tiny and dry...pity.All in all, it was a great night of enthusiastic foodies all coming together to support two up and comers in the Boston food scene. Visit either of these chefs at their restaurants for some great takes on food and stay tuned for the next Chef Louis event...as these will quickly become more and more popular!