Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celebrity Chef Series at Stella!

 In the restaurant business, Monday nights are known for being the 'off' night - people are usually still recovering from their weekends, or trying to get their minds around the inevitability that is the rest of the week. Monday nights in restaurants are thus usually quiet and relatively low key.
This is the exact opposite of what has been going on at Stella every Monday since the New Year. For its third year in a row, Stella holds a Celebrity Chef Series in which a different 'Celebrity Chef' from around Boston is invited to come up with a multi-course meal to be served on Mondays.  Chef Evan Deluty really has a fantastic initiative on his hands.  While you can still order from the regular menu, the bonus of experiencing a different chef's culinary style and inspiration every week has really been drawing in the crowds. 
 Last Monday, it was Chef Louis DiBicarri of Storyville who cooked up a  fantastic four course meal.  He certainly had Stella buzzing with South End locals, fans and friends of both Head Chefs and food enthusiasts.

 First course: Guanciale (delicious, crispy bacon), fried brussel leaves and fennel pollen served under a beautifully soft-boiled egg with toasted focaccia.  It was a perfect sample of a dressed up breakfast:)

 Next we had a mushroom and roasted red pepper linguini.  This pasta dish was served almost like a soup (I assume this was intentional), the broth was certainly delicious and the three large mushrooms were plump with the jus. I really enjoyed the colours, they were perfect for winter.

 For the third course, Chef Louis came out with a White Sweet potato soup topped with pomegranate seeds that added a surprising burst of tang and creme fraiche to balance it all out.
 The piece de resistance came next, it was a sizable cut of Veal Osso Bucco with saffron potatoes and escarole.  I don't often eat veal, but Chef Louis' meat was really prime, I thought it was cooked to a lovely reddish brown, it fell apart at the slightest pressure and you were left with the bone which - to further my delight, was filled with bone marrow!
I really enjoyed this dish...and somehow finished every last bit of it!

As a sweet ending, I thought Chef Louis was very brave in baking up batches of half-baked chocolate chip cookies.  Although this sounds pretty juvenile, I happen to think that baking a good chocolate chip cookie is quite a challenge. It can be too hard, too crunchy, not enough chocolate, not the right contrast between chocolate and batter....etc. Chef Louis' cookies were beautiful. He managed to nail the crispy outer rim with ooey-gooey goodness on the inside. The bitter-sweet chocolate chips married perfectly with the sweet batter.  My friend and I asked for a scoop of vanilla gelato to top it off which I really think is a necessity.
I enjoyed the entire meal; it was different, delicious and there was certainly no pretension.  Dishes were honest and delightful.  When chefs are let loose and free, you really get to try something fun.. priced at 40 dollars this series is a definite win both for restaurants and their patrons.
I can't think of a better way to start off my week - and lucky for us all, this Monday Chef Will Gilson is up and rumour has is going for 6 courses!

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