Archive for the ‘Chefs’ Category

It’s the First (Fancy) Ramp Dinner of Spring

Saturday, March 22, 2014
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Ready for the first ramp dinner of the season?

And a fancy one at that! 

Celebrated West Virginia Chef Dale Hawkins will treat guests to “A Fancy Ramp Dinner: Celebrating Spring Tonics in Appalachia” at 6 pm Saturday, March 29, at Mountain View Event Center in Buckhannon.

The evening will begin with a welcome beverage and ramp queso with corn tortillas, plus a cash bar available as well. Once the dinner begins, you’ll hear from the people who have grown, caught, raised, foraged and crafted the items featured in each dish.

Dishes like: 

  • Buttermilk, Ramp and Bacon Biscuits 
  • Artisan Breads from Jeff Kessler 
  • Bad Ass Beet Salad with Orange Segments and Pea Tendrils 
  • Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon and Wild Leek Vinaigrette, Pickled Red Onions, Farm Eggs and Mushrooms 
  • Gardner Farm Chicken Braised in White Wine and Caramelized Ramps 
  • Gingered Beef Flank Steak with Buttery Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Asparagus 
  • Apple Dumplings with Caramel Sauce and Ellen’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 
  • Iced Sassafras Tea and Mountain Roaster Coffee 

Dinner will be served buffet-style, and vegetarian options will be noted. The cost is $35 per person and tickets must be purchased in advance. Email chefhawkins@gmail.com or call 304-704-2535. 

All profits benefit the New Appalachian Farm & Research Center A 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to support the agricultural community’s efforts of supporting a local food system for West Virginia.

Charleston “Restaurant Week” Menus Announced!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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For those of you salivating over what choices you’ll have during Charleston’s upcoming “Restaurant Week,” I’m going to put you out of your misery. The menus have been announced! 

In case you missed the big news, Buzz Food Service has recruited eight top-notch local restaurants to participate in this year’s inaugural event, coming up Jan. 27-Feb. 1. 

Get the original scoop at http://bit.ly/KxGgjH, then check out the eight featured menus below …

 

BLUEGRASS KITCHEN (1600 Washington St. East, 304-346-2871)

First course:

* Simple salad or cup of soup du jour

Entrée:

* Pan-seared whole trout with organic stoneground grits, stewed kale and bourbon mustard sauce.

Dessert, choice of:

* Any available dessert.

 

BRIDGE ROAD BISTRO (915 Bridge Road, 304-720-3500)

First course, choice of:

* Cup of French Onion Soup

* House Salad

Entrée, choice of:

* Grecian Chicken Penne Pasta

* Apple Cured Pork Chop with fig and apple glaze with polenta and house vegetable

* Seared Salmon with polenta and house vegetable

Dessert, choice of:

* Bread Pudding

* Ice Cream

 

ICHIBAN (103 Capitol St., 304-720-7874)

First course, choice of:

* Gyoza (steamed pork dumpling)

* Almost Heaven Maki (shrimp and blue crab with spicy mayo, garnished with green onions and chili powder)

Entrée, choice of:

* Ichiban Land & Sea (filet with scallops drizzled with Asian sauce served with asparagus and choice of steamed or fried rice)

* Bamboo Chicken sautéed in General Tso’s sauce with choice of steamed or fried rice.

Dessert:

* Decadent Chocolate Spoon Cake.

 

NOAH’S ECLECTRIC BISTRO (110 McFarland St., 304-343-6558)

First course, choice of:

* Grilled Romaine Salad: Lightly grilled romaine, peppercorn dressing, grape tomato and shaved parmesan

* Soup of the Day: Chef’s Daily Creation

Entrée, choice of:

* Moroccan Spiced Braised Lamb: Tender braised leg of lamb with chickpeas, apricots, golden raisins, cous cous and mint yogurt

* Shrimp or Chicken Pad Thai: Bean sprouts, julienne vegetables, fried egg, rice noodles, peanuts, cilantro, coconut-peanut sauce

Dessert, choice of:

* Chocolate Lava Cake

* Vanilla Ice Cream with fresh berries

 

PATERNO’S AT THE PARK (601 Morris St., 304-205-5482)

First course, choice of:

* House-made meatball over polenta cake

* Italian Sausage Stuffed Pepper

Entrée, choice of:

* basil chicken (pan seared bone-in chicken breast with a basil marsala cream), tomato risotto and seasonal vegetable

* veal cutlet picatta (pounded veal tenderloin with a lemon and caper butter sauce), parmesan risotto and seasonal vegetable

Dessert:

* Cannoli chips

 

SOHO’S CAPITOL MARKET (800 Smith St., 304-720-7646)

First course, choice of:

* Caprese Salad

* Minestrone

Entrée, choice of:

* Lasagna

* Four-cheese ravioli with tomato basil

Dessert, choice of:

* Tiramisu

* Cannoli

 

SOUTH HILLS MARKET AND CAFÉ (1010 Bridge Road, 304-345-2585)

First course, choice of:

* Spanakopita Dip with Smoked Tomato Relish and Pita

* Garden Greens with choice of Dressing

* Braised Pork Belly with Succotash and Caramel Soy

Entrée, choice of:

* Chicken and Waffles with Braised Greens and Pecan Gastrique

* Pan Seared Grouper with Braised Leeks and Fennel with Saffron Beurre Blanc

* Grilled Petite Filet with whipped Potatoes and Vegetable Melange with Bordelaise

Dessert, choice of:

* Petite Doughnuts with Chocolate Sauce

* Creme Brûlée with Berry compote

 

VANDALIA GRILLE (212 Hale St., 304-343-4110)

First course, choice of:

* Tuna Nachos

* Bruschetta

Entrée, choice of:

* Cedar Plank Salmon

* Vandalia Filet

Dessert:

* Fried Cheesecake

Chef Brown … You’ve Been Chopped!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
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If you read my column in today’s Daily Mail, you know I spent last night enjoying a fantastic night of wine, food, music and friends at Edgewood Country Club.

It was everything I expected in a nice evening out and more – and yet another feather in Festivall’s cap.

But what you don’t know is who won Charleston’s first-ever Edgewood Become a Work of Art “Chopped”-style culinary throwdown, in which two amateur chefs (and their teams) competed against one another to prepare two different dishes for four judges using a “mystery box” of ingredients revealed just 15 minutes before the stoves were fired up.

So who won? Oh, we’ll get to that.

First things first. What an AWESOME evening!

Held on Edgewood Country Club’s patio overlooking the city of Charleston, more than a hundred guests mingled – listening to the awesome “Fort Hillbillies” band, socializing with friends, sipping wine – while two culinary teams battled it out over a hot grill. Local “Wine Boy” John Brown and Charleston doctor Stefan Maxwell led their teams to create a menu featuring at least three ingredients from the mystery box (actually a coffin-sized cooler) presented to them right as the competition began.

Among their choices … sea bass, ahi tuna, ribeye and a selection of fresh produce, herbs, grains and full use of Chef Jeremy Still’s Edgewood Country Club pantry.

I immediately started plotting what I would make under the circumstances, but my ideas differed from what these fast-thinkers came up with on the fly. Chef Maxwell crafted a menu of a fire-grilled Caribbean Angus rib-eye roast with a rum-infused jerk reduction over warm potato salad. He paired that with a cored curried apple stuffed with goat cheese, figs and warm berry compote.

I loved the interplay of heat and sweat in his dish, but my steak was definitely overcooked compared to the plates I saw fellow judges enjoying on the left and right. Ah, consistency. But that sweet-savory-fruity apple dessert was one of the most ingenious, delicious I’ve had.

Chef Brown’s team offered a summer salad medley – a single plate featuring small tastes of crab Louis, grilled asparagus and a Caprese salad of sliced tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and julienned basil. Those are three dishes I love individually, but never would’ve thought to pair them together on the same plate. But why not?

The Brown team’s main course featured a Southwest-seared rib-eye, grilled broccolini and a farrow-stuffed grilled pepper. I dream of broccolini and farrow, so this was a winner in my book. The steak was cooked nicely, too, so there was little to find fault with here.

But that’s what judges do, so we filled out our scorecards to name an ultimate winner. And in the spirit of the show that inspired it … “Chef Brown, you’ve been Chopped!”

Chef Maxwell’s Caribbean-inspired menu won by the narrowest of margins, just 1.3 points out of a possible 60. So very close.

No matter, it was an awesome night – and yet another reason why West Virginia, Charleston and Festivall will forever hold a special place in my heart. (And belly.)

Enjoy a Gourmet Feast in a Gorgeous Farm Setting

Thursday, May 30, 2013
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If you love great locally sourced food, fine wine and good company – all enjoyed against a backdrop of sweeping views of West Virginia’s rolling farmland – have I got an event for you!

Tickets are still available for the June 10 “Friends of Food” gourmet farm feast at beautiful Swift Level Farm in Lewisburg. Join other diehard “foodies” (and me!) as we celebrate West Virginia’s culinary heritage and local farm products for an unforgettable evening at one of the most beautiful and idyllic settings in the state.

Some of our region’s finest chefs will team up to serve a “New Appalachian” feast paired with featured wines from the Wine Shop at Capitol Market.

Cocktails will start at 6:30 pm, with dinner served at 7:30 pm. Seating will be in tables of eight, and tickets are $100 per person.

You can order yours now – and take a look at the entire mouthwatering menu – here:

http://castironcookoff.com/Friends-of-Food-at-Swift-Level-fof.htm

Charleston’s Best Eats? The “People” Have Spoken!

Monday, May 13, 2013
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A few weeks ago I wrote about the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau’s efforts to honor local employees, restaurants, businesses and hotels in conjunction with National Tourism Week.

After weeks of the public nominating – and then voting on – their favorites in a variety of categories, winners are being announced TONIGHT during a reception at the Charleston Civic Center!

In the food-related categories, honors go to …

  • Favorite Restaurant – Pies & Pints
  • Favorite Specialty Drink – Sangria, Lola’s
  • Favorite Food Dish – Black Bean Pie, Pies & Pints
  • Best Restaurant Employee – Dana Mindrescu, Marriott
  • Best Frontline Ambassador – Aaron Clark, Bridge Road Bistro

Congrats to all!

Vote Now for the Best Fish Sandwich in Town!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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Hey Charleston peeps …

Lent season is upon us and we’re looking for the best fish sandwiches in town!

Does your local hangout do it better than the rest? And if so, what makes it so — the fish itself, the bun, the sauce? Inquiring minds want to know.

Vote here for your favorite place for fish: http://bit.ly/WHdIHJ. Then follow the Charleston Daily Mail and this Food Guy blog for all of the tasty results.

The 3 S’s of Fall — Soups, Stews and Side Dishes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
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When temps start to fall, my taste buds turn to the three S’s of fall – soups, stews and sides.

A creamy potato soup. A chunky beef stew. A filling side dish. The heartier the better!

And soups, especially, are so easy to make at home.

“People are often intimidated when it comes to making tasty soups, but it’s not nearly as challenging as it may seem,” says Ryan Fichter, Executive Chef of Thunder Burger. “Great tasting soups are within reach for everyone to make.”

Here are his 5 tips for making it happen:

  1. STOCK UP. The soup base, or stock, is a big part of the equation. Good tasting stock makes good tasting soup. Homemade is best, but if that’s not an option choose a store-bought kind low in sodium.
  2. MIND THE MACARONI. If you are going to have pasta in your soup, be sure to cook it before adding it in. Many people skip this step, and it can throw off their whole recipe.
  3. FRESH IS BEST. When it comes to any of the ingredients going into your soup, fresh is the best option. If that’s not an option, go for frozen over canned.
  4. USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. Using the right kitchen tools is important. Some people prefer to use a slow cooker, which is fine. If you will be using a pot, choose one that is large and heavy. Also, an immersion blender makes easy work of creaming/pureeing soups.
  5. THE FINISHING TOUCH. Enhance the soup’s presentation by using a garnish. Also, most people prefer to have something with their soup, so choose the right addition, such as crackers, biscuits, muffins, bread or breadsticks.

“One of the great things about soup is that it is so versatile,” Fichter adds. “Soup can be a great appetizer, side dish or even a main course. Leftovers also heat up well for lunch the next day.”

Here here, I say.

And here here is his recipe for a simple Creamy Potato Soup. You can bulk it up with veggies or top it off with fresh herbs or crumbled bacon.

 

Creamy Potato Soup Recipe

2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 ½ pounds of Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 ½ cups heavy cream

1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.

2. Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, allspice, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. With an immersion blender puree soup in blender until smooth.

4. Add cream and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).

Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Local Restaurant’s Special Dessert So Not The Pits

Thursday, July 12, 2012
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In case you missed it in last week’s Daily Mail, South Hills Market & Cafe will once again feature a special cherry dish on its menu asWest Virginia’s chosen restaurant to help celebrate National Rainier Cherry Day all week. (The big day was Wednesday, July 11.)

Northwest Cherries has selected one restaurant from every state to feature a uniqueRainiercherry dish incorporating the famed fruit’s crisp bite and pale yellow flesh. Chef Richard Arbaugh received 40 pounds of cherries to play around with and, in doing so, came up with a pan-seared foie gras with Rainier cherry gastrique, pan-seared Hudson Valley duck breast braised with Rainier cherry and buckwheat cake, and a Rainier cherry and almond baklava.

You can enjoy the baklava at the restaurant this week – or try making it yourself with the recipe below! It’s a wee bit labor-intensive, though.

Located at 1010 Bridge Road, South Hills Market & Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 304-345-2585 for more information or reservations.

 

Rainier Cherry & Almond Baklava

Nut Filling
1 1/4 Cups of Whole Almonds
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp. Ground Cardamom

Cherry Filling
6 Ounces Cherries
1/4 Cup Apricot Jam

1 Pound Filo at Room Temperature
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted

Syrup
1/3 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
2 Tbsp. Amaretto

 Topping
3 Tbsp. Chopped Toasted Almonds

For the Filling:

Place the almonds in a bowl of a food processor and blend until finely chopped, (about 15 to 20 seconds) add the sugar and the cardamom pulse three or four times. Transfer to a medium bowl.

To Prepare the Cherry Filling:

Place cherries and apricot glaze in a bowl pulse until it is a course mixture. Transfer mixture to a small bowl.

To Prepare Filo: 

Remove from packaging and unfold so the stack lies flat on work surface. Cut the stacks in half crosswise, then trim each half to measure 8inches by 8 inches. Stack them on top of each other and cover with a damp cloth. Place your first piece in greased 8by 8 inch pan. Lay each piece of filo in the pan brushing melted butter lightly. Do not saturate with to much butter, repeat with five more pieces of filo.

Cover the top piece with about a 1/3 of a cup of the nut mixture. Repeat this process only using three sheets of filo and two more layers of the nut filling. Place three more sheets of filo and with an off set spatula place the entire cherry filling across the pastry. Place three more sheets of filo on top and cover with 1/3 cup of nut filling repeat three times. You should have used up the nut filling by now.

Top with five sheets filo buttered lightly. Place the baklava in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. After the 30 minutes has passed pull baklava out of freezer and cut to desired shapes with a sharp knife. Place the pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes. Turn oven down and bake an additional 20 minutes and remove from oven letting cool on rack. Retrace cuts with knife and make sure that you cut all the way through.

To Make Syrup

Place sugar and water in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Use a candy thermometer and cook until the temperature reaches 218 F. Remove from the heat. Stir in honey and amaretto, return to the heat and cook until it reaches boiling. Pour evenly over cooled baklava and top with the toasted almonds. Allow the syrup to saturate the pastry (2-3 hours)  the baklava will be at its best after 8 hours. Store with a loose covering up to five days.

 

 

Pork Battle! A New Chef Wins Celebrity Throwdown

Saturday, March 10, 2012
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This year’s Celebrity Chef Throwdown at the West Virginia Culinary Classic presented two interesting twists.

One, last year’s same chefs competed in a heated (not really) rematch between returning winner Chef Gene Evans for Northern Community College and challenger Chef Tom Grant from Carver Career and Technical Center.

And, two, the competition threw in a reality show-like whammy this year!

Just five minutes before both teams started cooking, each chef got to select an ingredient (in addition to the mystery ingredient) that the opposing chef HAD to incorporate into one of their dishes.

Chef Gene took it easy on Chef Tom, choosing flatbread that was sautéed in olive oil to serve in an Italian-Mediterranean-style dish of pesto gnocchi with red peppers, toasted flatbread and fried basil leaves. Tom did not return the nicety, giving Gene Corn Chex that had to be incorporated into a dish.

Undeterred, Gene presented a pork roulade stuffed with a goat cheese and Corn Chex stuffing that looks pretty darn tasty.

It wasn’t enough, though. In a heated (not really) battle, Chef Tom dethroned Chef Gene’s team by capping off his three-dish presentation with an Oreo crème brulee made on-the-spot without the benefit of an oven.

While all of this was going on, there were NO winners at a new “Man vs. Food” event in which four strapping guys were challenged to try to finish a two-pound pulled pork sandwich (complemented with a pound of slaw and fries) in just an hour’s time.

I thought someone would do it, that is, until I saw these sandwiches, which were BEASTS. Not a single guy met the challenge, but God bless ‘em for trying. I’m sure they still haven’t recovered!

Top Plates at the WV Culinary Classic Dine Around!

Saturday, March 10, 2012
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Last night’s opening night Dine Around at the West Virginia Culinary Classic was better than ever, with some of the region’s top chefs and culinary programs showing off their skills for hundreds of guests at Stonewall Resort.

The sights, sounds and smells combined into a sensory overload of sorts (but in a good way!) with sizzling pans, gorgeous plates of food, free-flowing wine and some great live Appalachian music touching on rock, country, bluegrass and more.

As I made my way around the room and addressed the crowd between tunes, I kept crowning a new “favorite” dish until I finally just gave up and enjoyed them all!

Among the highlights …

  • A fantastic homemade sausage and sautéed greens slider atop cornbread from the Regatta Grille at Morgantown’s Waterfront Place Hotel.
  • A soul-satisfying braised short rib ravioli in roasted red pepper pasta from Canaan Valley Resort. Their bloody mary with candied bacon was a hit, too. (They called it “breakfast in a glass.” I called it “a party in my mouth.”)
  • A mushroom tart topped with braised short ribs and truffle greens from Smokey’s on the Gorge in Fayetteville.
  • Tasty peppery pork tenderloin atop five-onion risotto from The Greenbrier.
  • A colorful and delicious lightly dressed salad of cabbage, peppers, carrots and herbs from Graceland Inn & Conference Center in Elkins.
  • Then there was the carpaccio with lemon-olive oil sorbet from Mountain State University, the crab cake bar from Columbus Culinary Institute, Stonewall’s sprawling antipasto spread, Huntington Prime’s gorgeous and decadent cakes and tortes – and the list goes on.

It was great night, and the food fun continues today!

First up this morning is a “Make Your Own Bloody Mary” bar in the Grand Lobby, followed by four concurrent sessions covering everything from wine tasting to a braising meats demonstration. The popular Celebrity Chef Throwdown (an Iron Chef-like affair) starts at 1 p.m., immediately followed by a new “Man vs. Food” challenge. Get this …

Four volunteers will go head-to-head to see if they can eat a 32 oz. pulled pork sandwich (that’s two pounds, folks!) plus fries and cole slaw in under 45 minutes. The winner gets a free pass to next year’s 10th annual Culinary Classic, valued at several hundred dollars.

And then tonight brings another cocktail reception followed by the grand finale – a five course food and wine dinner in the Grand Ballroom.

The fun begins in minutes, so off I go. But stay tuned for more updates!