When not one but nine culinary giants of America congregate to personally prepare an eight-course meal paired with wine, you clear your calendar, period!
This season’s most anticipated dinner, The Celebrity Chef Tour by James Beard Foundation came to O-town’s hottest Spanish-influenced steakhouse – Capa at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando’s and we had front row seats.
The theatrical grandeur executed with military precision, orchestrated with the grace of waltz, all-embracing service, awe-inspiring chef camaraderie, beautifully conceived, elegantly presented eight-course dinner, was truly befitting the culinary spirit of James Beard Foundation.
Our five-hour extravaganza began in the lounge with passed bite-sized teasers from Capa’s kitchen, Charcuterie, wine, and cocktails. Followed by an eight-course sit down dinner with wine pairings.
There is something primal and deeply satisfying about fresh Charcuterie especially when it is balanced in flavor and equally as intricate. A joint venture of Chef Sullivan & chefs at Four Seasons, the Venison Summer Sausage, Postal Summer Sausage, Country Style Pork Terrine with pistachios and cherries and candied pecans and apricots, Salmon Rillettes in profiteroles, Pork Rillettes and plum jam, traditional Bratwurst, Italian Sausage, and 2 yrs cited Country Ham all were joy to the palate.
Capa’s signature Naranja GinTonic, an exotic riff made with Tanqueray No. 10, floral Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic, Orange, Juniper, Sage, & Thyme wins accolades for one of the most memorable sips of 2015.
Shall we sit down for dinner? I present to you our enchanting evening captured via the skillful lenses of The Bokeh Studio.
Michael Sullivan, Creekstone Farms Beef, Arkansas City, KS.
Beef Carpaccio Salad, made with Creekstone prime strip loin, 2014 Grenache Rose, Horse Heaven Hills.
Chef Norman Van Aken, Norman’s, Orlando, FL
“Bass Under Glass” red wine reduction, potato torta paired with N.V Composition Red Blend, Columbia Valley. Delicate yet dramatic, flawlessly executed, Chef Norman’s course was the most ambitious and interactive presentation of the night. This delightful interpretation of bass was elevated with a mysterious dimension of smokiness and finger-licking red wine reduction.
Chef Gerard Craft, Niche, St. Louis.
Roasted Winter Squash, Spiced Squash Puree, Squash Vinegar, Caramel Seeds, Missouri Goat Cheese, Mint paired with 2013 Riesling, Columbia Valley. Chef Craft glorifies the sophisticated side of sweet, rich, deep-orange fall vegetable with his multifaceted piquant composition.
Finished with crunchy savory seeds, tangy goat cheese, and refreshing mint, it was a sight to behold and savor.
Chef Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia, Chicago.
Ravioletto filled with Crescenza Cheese, Brown Butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, Truffles paired with 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Yakima Valley. From the Spiaggia Cookbook “Eleganza”, a single pillow of technically perfect ravioli stuffed with soft oozing Crescenza (a soft Italian cow’s milk cheese also known as Stracchino from Lombardy, Italy), finished with nutty brown butter, sprinkled with the king of cheeses Parmigiano, adorned with generous slices of intoxicating truffles, it was sinfully tasty.
Host Chef Fabrizio Schenardi, Four Seasons, Orlando.
Chef Fabrizio brought old-school complexity with his Veal Cheeks braised in Barolo Chinato, Polenta & Roasted Chestnuts Chicche paired with 2013 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills. Cheek meat is so good on it’s own, slow cooked in Chinato, (a Piedmont fortified delicacy infused with quinine and secret blend of spices) transformed Chef Fabrizio’s veal cheeks to sultry and succulent heights.
Chef Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY
Seared Rib-Eye, Gochujang Butter, Grits, Radish Bottarga paired with 2012 Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley. Korean gochujang (chili paste), the not so secret ingredient imparts not only heat but also savory, rich flavors with a hint of sweetness. Chef Lee brilliantly builds layers of flavors while cleverly infusing Eastern traditions with classical French culinary skills. One bite was all it took for our entire table to be moaning in delight!
Bold and brazen, Chef Lee’s cuisine is not so much fusion, as it is the product of a cerebral chef, fluent in the edible lingos of South East Asia, American, Europe, and heck even India. Its time to pay Louisville, KY a visit, foodies.
Host Chef Tim Dacey, Four Seasons, Orlando.
Spanish Cheeses paired with 2013 Tempranillo, Horse Heaven Hills. The purest way to savor and celebrate milk’s gifts to the table, presented center stage, after the main dish and before dessert. Chef Dacey seduced us with Garrotxo semi firm goat cheese from Catalonia, dressed with delicate sweetness of caramelized garlic; Idiazabal a sheep’s milk hard cheese from Basque kissed with gooseberry and aged solera vinegar; Valdeon made from cow & goat’s milk bleu cheese aptly paired with a tangy fruit mustarda.
Pastry Chefs Stefan Riemer & Rabii Saber, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando.
Gianduja-Citrus Cremeux with Dehydrated Milk Foam, Beets Light Meringue and Vanilla Chantilly paired with N.V La Marcha, Prosecco, Italy. There is no better place in Central Florida to experience the glory of Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut paste that puts Nutella to shame) than the playfully presented and thoughtfully created combined creation of Chefs Riemer and Saber. Cleverly paired with Kalamansi citrus pudding, rich white chocolate vanilla infused cream, decorated with milk chocolate Gianduja ganache squares, glistening with gold leaf garnish. It was simply spectacular.
Watching Master Sommelier James Tidwell, Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas, Irving, TX literally float across the floor like a ballet dancer with pristine form, was indeed a rare treat.
Here’s a behind the scenes clip we captured.
We mingled in the company of like minded gourmands; between the flowing wine, delicious dishes, laughter and love, it was truly an exquisite dining experience.
Grazie mille (thousand thanks) to Mr. Stephen Wancha, Director of F&B, Mr. Josh Aaronson, GM of Capa, and the entire team of Four Seasons for synchronizing this very special flawless evening.
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures and honours America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Today JBF continues in the spirit of Mr. James Beard, cookbook author and teacher, by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. Check out the calendar for listings in your town.
Loving these drool-worthy photographs? Contact The Primlani Kitchen to discuss your food photography options.
Until next time, have a delicious day!