Monday, January 17, 2011

FL State of Mind

It’s been freezing here in NOLA, as cold as it’s been since I’ve lived here. In the 30s -- Chicago weather -- and it looks like it's ready to snow. It feels even colder because I've been going back and forth to Florida for events the past two weekends. Right after New Year's, I was in the Florida Keys for a four-day event at the Ocean Reef Club, where I cooked a four-course dinner at their private clubhouse.
I had never been in the Keys before, and it was great going out on the water, where there were these incredible private yachts owned by mega-billionaires. One of the Wirtz family members – the family that owns the Chicago Blackhawks – had a boat called The Blackhawk anchored there. I loved that Chicago connection!
It was also really cool seeing the wetlands down there. Here, when we go out to the marshland, it’s called bayou, and there it’s the Everglades. To my outsider’s eye, they looked fairly similar; although I’m sure locals would be able to see the differences.
Then it was back to freezing Louisiana, scraping ice off my windshield. Last week we did game tastings at Bittersweet Plantation, and then I prepped for the Gasparilla Inn Food & Wine Weekend, which John and I did together. Chef Peter Timmins hosted some of the nation’s leading chefs and wineries for a weekend of culinary events, tastings, demos and dinners. This was one of the first events that John and I have done together since we began working on R’evolution. We did a walk-around tasting of classic New Orleans dishes (étoufée, seafood gumbo and turtle soup), and then a demo together to talk about the food we served on the walk-around and how we’re reimagining it on our new menu.
I stayed for the Master Chef’s Dinner on Saturday night, a five-course dinner for 250 people that I cooked with four other chefs, each of us doing a course. I served roasted lobster with vanilla and micro herb salad, which is a preview of a sheep's milk ricotta gnocchi dish with lobster that we’re working on for R’evolution.
Stay tuned this week for more on our game dishes!
- Rick

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