I worked among an army of white-clad culinary students at Friday’s Wildwood Wine and Food Festival, both to learn from the other chefs there and to bring our own offerings to the party.
Our team from Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School served crab cakes with fruit coulis, stuffed profiteroles (think cream puff), beef wontons with a spicy mango salsa, and the sleeper hit of the party: roasted, overstuffed baby red potato halves.
I really loved working the table, answering questions about the school and about our food, or cooking in general. It’s one of those moments my PR background comes in handy, I guess.
If you saw my tweet about the focaccia…well…it didn’t make it there. Apparently I overmixed a bit, and they were a little tough. I guess we’re at school to learn, right? I think they’re going to serve some of the better pieces at the school café. Consider yourself forewarned.
Some of the highlights from the event:
- Lewis Curtis, executive chef at Lulav, cooked two dishes while a flurry of attention buzzed around him. This Wednesday marks the premiere of this season’s Hell’s Kitchen, where he is among the cooks up against Chef Gordon Ramsay’s simmering temper. My quick observation of Curtis: talented and delightfully punkish, the one you’ll “love to hate” on the show. Lulav is holding a premiere viewing party Wednesday; call for details at (501) 374-5100.
- The longest line award goes to Boulevard Bread, whose Mediterranean-inspired table of olives, cheeses and their famous breads were more than most could resist. In fact, I never got any, as my breaks from our own table didn’t afford the long wait. But it was beautiful. (As I write this, I’m munching on my own purchase of Boulevard Bread’s artisan European loaf, nuked with some Monterey Jack on top. Hey, we can’t be fancy all the time.)
- The best dish, in my humble opinion, was by Chef Daniel Capello of the Chenal Country Club: an amazing pecan wood roasted wild king salmon topped with (!) sea beans on a corn brioche, with garlic aioli and a tomato-corn relish. Capello said the salmon had just been flown in that morning, and however the heck he roasted the thing, it was tender and melty as butter. Remind me to camp out in his kitchen sometime and absorb his awesomeness.
And this is the event that has finally convinced me…If I’m going to do these kind of events for the blog, I’ve GOT to invest in a better camera. I’m thinking a Nikon D90. Any suggestions are welcome. But for now, the ghetto-photos will have to suffice: