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Top Chef Champions Kick Off Food & Wine Classic in Style

By June 19, 2009

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 Photo Name Last night was the Welcome Reception for the 2009 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, featuring food prepared by four previous winners from Bravo's wildly popular cooking show, Top Chef. Harold Dieterle, Ilan Hall, Stephanie Izard, and Hosea Rosenberg were each given their own station from which to showcase one of their signature dishes for the large, knowledgeable crowd.

The reception was held in Aspen's St. Regis Hotel, and while the young chefs set up their stations, I was able to get in early to ask a few questions. I found it interesting that all four chefs displayed very similar personalities – they were calm, collected, and in complete control. From personal experience I can tell you, this is not easy, especially right before an event of this size and statue.

They were happy to answer questions, pose for pictures, and not only did they endure the distraction politely, they seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves. Of course, people weren't there to assess their demeanor, they were there to taste the food, and all four came through with very creative and delicious offerings.

 Photo Name Harold Dieterle, winner of Top Chef season one, did a wonderful warm salad of wing beans, wild boar, and young coconut. I learned he's in the process of starting up a second restaurant, but wouldn’t give me an answer as to the concept or style, although be did admit it will be "completely different" than Perilla, his current restaurant in New York.

 Photo Name Stephanie Izard, who is working on opening her first restaurant in Chicago, served a fried Egyptian cheese, called Gebna Makleya, topped with a bright green, chopped fava bean salad. When asked for the inspiration for the unusual ingredient choice, she said it was the result of, "an email from someone, and a couple glasses of wine." I've been known to use a similar method with great success.

 Photo Name Ilan Hall from The Gorbals, in Los Angeles, served a vodka-poached pork meatball "booterbroad," which he explained was Russian for "buttered bread." We all agreed it sounded so much cooler in Russian. He seemed to particularly enjoy interacting with the guests, and was earnestly recommending guests try his bite with a shot of vodka. I can personally verify this was some very good advice.

For guests not chasing down their food with iced shots of vodka, there was a collection of wines from Trinchero Family Estates, which paired nicely with the young chefs' creations.

 Photo Name Last season's winner, Hosea Rosenberg, the chef at Jax Fish House in Boulder, Colorado, offered a wonderfully rich smoked corn soup with shrimp, topped with a puree of huitlacoche (a black fungus that grows on corn). Believe me, it tasted way better than it sounds. It was fun watching the reactions of guests when they were told what the black garnish floating on the top actually was.

It was an interesting and very tasty way to kick off the Food & Wine Classic weekend, and made me even more excited for all the wonderful food and wine that's sure to follow. By the way, I have a lot of photos from the event that I'll publish in a captioned photo gallery when I get back. Stay tuned for plenty more coverage from Aspen!

Photos (c) John Mitzewich


June 20, 2009 at 1:43 am
(1) James says:

Looking good!

June 20, 2009 at 4:30 am
(2) Chelsie Kenyon says:

Here is more info on Huitlacoche….http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/faqandglossaries/g/huitlacoche.htm


June 20, 2009 at 8:54 am
(3) americanfood says:

Thanks Chelsie!

June 20, 2009 at 9:50 am
(4) Basia says:

Holy crap. I’m reading along, get to the words “black fungus that grows on corn” and say out loud “SMUT?!?!?” Proof that gourmet and desperation are first cousins.

June 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm
(5) AJJB says:

“booterbroad” actually comes from the German word “Butterbrot”. Seems the high carb German kitchen had some influence on the Russian language as well..

June 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm
(6) Ed J. Higgins says:

I so want to try that corn soup.

lolol to post this at the bottom it say: :Say it”

So ok.


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