Our own Chef Tony Dee took to the culinary stage at the Culinary Vegetable Institute last weekend, and my, did he shine! He created a menu that surprised and delighted the guests and celebrated the best of fall.
“It was a Halloween, fall-themed dinner,” Chef Tony says. “The challenging part for us was making sure the dinner made sense for the surroundings. It had to be playful enough to be fun but also had to work with the world around it.”
The dinner started with appetizers created by Tony’s long-time friend Chef Matt Strabbing. Appetizers were:
- Red and yellow beet bites with smoked bacon powder, goat cheese and citrus marigolds
- Roasted Pork Belly with parmesan polenta and micro collard greens
- Shrimp steam bun with baby bok choy, Chinese kale and Ponzu
For the next course, Tony worked with several varieties of beets, making a beet tartare dish that included smoke flavor, olive oil, red ribbon sorrel and cucumber blossoms, topped with a golden beet sphere.
The next course was the most whimsical. Guests were served mushrooms braised in curry and sherry, Parmesan-Miso froth, toast points, sous vide poached egg, tomato jam and an instruction sheet for how to put the dish together. The instructions were printed on edible wafer paper, so when it was complete, guests could eat it.
The main course was a study in contrast and decadence. Tony prepared a chicken with duck fat and roasted it on hay. Tony also prepared cervena venison and Smoking Goose Kitchen Sink Sausage. Both were served with white hominy grits with celery root puree folded into them to make them creamy. Root spinach was also part of the main course, tossed with caramelized onions mixed with butter, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Here’s were more of the fun came in: a group of dancers dressed like zombies performed the Thriller dance (a la Michael Jackson) before dessert, which was a fan favorite at the dinner. It also gave the chefs time to prepare the dessert, which was a butternut squash donut served in a paper bag with cardamon-spiced sugar. The donuts were paired with a popcorn custard, which was served with blackberry compote and caramel. And, to top that off, Tony created an elaborate martini. “The cider martini had rum sorbet,” Tony said. “I turned Caribbean dark rum into sorbet consistency using liquid nitrogen to freeze it as we stirred it. We then used an ice cream scoop to place it in the glass. The dry ice was under the rum sorbet and we then poured the got spiced cider over it to create the smoke effect and melt the rum.”
As part of the evening, Bruce Kraus presented the Culinary Vegetable Institute with a check for $13,500, which is how much we’ve raised towards the Veggie U program. Veggie U teaches children about how vegetables are grown.
It was a spectacular night. Thank you to Chef Tony Dee. We’re lucky to have you!