How do you feel about sampling creative, flavorful food dishes? Everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts? And more importantly: how do you feel about getting two choices for each?
We didn’t know what to expect when my husband and I entered the dining area at the Genesee Grand Hotel on Monday, June 25th. As luck would have it, we immediately spotted friends and selected a large table that included five of us that had never been to a “challenge” before and three veterans of the events! One of the veterans represented Grindstone Farms, the provider of the mystery food items that the chefs had to work with! Apparently, the chefs are given 24 hours’ notice of what they will be asked to cook with. Our fellow table-mates Whereas impressed by each dish as I was. It was fun to see which of us preferred the meatier dish versus the seafood dish…. Or the tangy salad versus the slightly sweet salad with sugared pecans…. Or the cream Brulé versus the thyme- flavored whipped cream on the strawberry shortcakes.
The experience was entirely enjoyable! Participants were reminded about how wonderful and abundant our local food sources are. We were treated to a total of eight dishes: two appetizers, two salads, two entrées, and yes… Two desserts! Each course sampling was completely different from the other. Each was created by either Chef Emma or Chef Ryan. Everything was so unique and delicious in its own way that it often was hard to pick a favorite! But I will confess that the slightly salty, dense shortbread biscuits that came with the Chef Emma’s dessert were a perfect way to end the evening!
“Buy Local” was the slogan of the evening, and Chris Fowler — CEO and founder of SYRACUSE FIRST — spoke of the importance of keeping our dollars local. We were treated to wonderful food choices, with a little friendly competition thrown in, and we were in wonderful company. I highly, highly recommend the adventurous eater/readers of this column to attend one of the next “Chef’s Challenges!” this one, like many, sold out quickly so don’t delay! The next will be on Tuesday July 17, from six to 8:30 PM at the SKY Armory: www.pragmaticnfresh.com/tickets