Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hot Chefs Cool Jazz VI

Alas, yet another evening where's there's an abundance of wine but there's no bottle to add to The List. Tonight was Hot Chefs Cool Jazz VI, a fundraiser for Ryan Stone, the hot young chef who, with his culinary teammates, is going to represent Canada and compete against 23 other countries in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or - the equivalent of the cooking world's Olympics. To quote Ryan, "this competition [is] the creme de la creme, the best chefs in the world competing for the highest honour in the culinary world."

Over two dozen of the top chefs in our region participated in tonight's event and each offered up a small plate to arouse your taste buds. As everyone wandered the new Trade and Convention Centre and took in the spectacular view of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains, you could graze your way through the hall and feast your senses on the dishes being prepared by the likes of Chefs Robert Clark (C Restaurant), Jeremie Bastien (Boneta), Vikram Vij (Vij's) and Quang Dang (Diva at The Met).

That small list of top chefs didn't even profile the three chefs in attendance that have previously represented Canada at the Bocuse d'Or - Chris Mills (2001), David Wong (2009) and, our household's favourite, Scott Jaeger of The Pear Tree (2007).

The variety of tastes and the skill behind all the dishes was staggering. It's a rare occasion when you can sample as many different first class plates, all at once, as you could this evening. I won't go into all the gastronomic pleasures that were available but, rest assured, I tried my utmost to patronize each of the restaurant stations - sometimes twice. They were that good.

There were a few dishes, however, that stood out for me - even among such incredible offerings. Among my favourites for the night were:

- the fresh Spot Prawn Shooter offered up by Justin Ault and Tomoki Yamasaki of Hapa Izakaya. It's spot prawn season and the raw local delicacy was served on a skewer with a shot glass of hot spot prawn dashi. You then "cooked" the prawn for as long as you desired in the broth, ate the prawn and shot back the broth. Simple and perfect.

- Hamid Saliman, of The Apron at the Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport, served a delicious duo of beef tartar & crisp beef tendon and "puffed" foie gras with date puree and rose water jelly. He tried to explain the process of creating the "puffed" foie gras to me but it's not going to be something that this kid can try at home. If this is a dish that he serves up at the restaurant, I may need to head out the airport - whether we're flying anywhere or not.

- when tasting the Guinness Braised Angus Short Rib prepared by Jason Lloyd and the Terminal City Club, I immediately thought of poor Boo since he wasn't able to attend due to another darned shift at work. I also immediately went back to eat another - on Boo's behalf, of course. This dish was so right up his alley. If I could have stuck an extra plate into my pocket to take home to him, I would have.

- there was no skimping on the dessert side either; Scott Jaeger served up a marvelously rich Chocolate Ganache with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Orange Sorbet. My hero.

Of course, none of the dishes I raved about match the pictures, but such is the life of a simple blogger. I was more concerned with eating the food than taking pictures of it, especially when mixing it up with hundreds of other folk.

As mentioned, there was plenty of wine to match with the food. Vincor was a major sponsor of the event and they served up wines from Sumac Ridge, See Ya Later Ranch, Jackson-Triggs, Nk'mip Cellars and Osoyoos Larose. To assist any culinary neophytes in attendance, the wines were neatly divided into little bars that featured "bubbles," "crisp," "fruity," "luscious," "juicy" and "bold." Each of the restaurant stations also suggested a wine style that would best match their dish. I may not get to add a bottle to The List from tonight's "gala gala do," but all of these wineries feature prominently in this blog and most of the wines served up will make it onto The List - if they weren't there already.

And, finally, even if it doesn't get added to The List immediately, I will be adding one wine from tonight down the road. I picked up a bottle of Foxtrot Pinot Noir in the silent auction and I'm really looking forward to matching that up with some inspiring concoction of my own.

Here's hoping that the evening was as successful of an event for Ryan and his Bocuse d'Or team as it was for all the guests. Best of luck in the competition. I'll be cheering you on.

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