Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Fundraising Feast at Taste of the Nation

Spring is here and Food Festival season is in full bloom. Taste of the Nation, one of the premier annual culinary benefits that aims to combat childhood hunger, was held Sunday, April 28th at the newly-built and stunningly designed Hotel Monaco in Old City, Philadelphia. Organized by Share Our Strength, this always-festive, sold-out gathering assembles the area's top toques, restaurants and mixologists who donate their time and passion in the name of charity. Ticket sales and silent auctions contributed to Share Our Strength's efforts while providing support to local organizations Philabundance, The Food Trust, The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, and The Pennsylvania Hunger ActionMarc Summers of Double-Dare fame and Food Network success took on Emcee duties while local chef David Katz from Creekstone Farms acted as Chef Chair. Kevin Sbraga, Season 7 "Top Chef" winner and owner of modern American resto Sbraga, was the Honorary Chef Chair. Phoebe Esmon of slick and hip Emmanuelle chaired Mixology. Over 20 restaurants participated in the fundraising fête that regaled attendees with memorable bites, sips, and an after-party at Stratus Rooftop Lounge. 

Check out the photos of the beautiful dishes, regal setting, lively Chefs and Philly food fans.

Interior of Hotel Monaco reflects the attention to art, detail & design so
identifiable with the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group 
Hemingway Daiquiri by Bess Gulley of Stratus Rooftop Lounge 
Brugal Rum, grapefruit juice, maraschino liquer, simple syrup, lime
Vernick's (@VernickPhilly) Tuna Poke with ahi, sesame, sweet soy, chopped macadamia nuts,
cilantro & a brilliant candied tamarind. Paired perfectly with the daiquiri and kicked off the evening.
FOH Guru Tory Keomanivong from Fond (@FondPhilly) plating Chef Lee Styer's Wild Boar Pâté

Hanging out with funny guy Marc Summers (@lbatvmc), a celebrity with no pretension.
Famous Philly chef/entrepreneur and super-friendly Tony Luke and Jen Shine, who have started
Find them on Twitter at @tonylukejr @jcshine444 @married2foodphl
Old Fashioned by Phoebe Esmon of Emmanuelle & the US Bartenders' Guild.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Angostura & orange bitters, simple syrup
Lari Robling (@larirobling) of WHYY's Fit Project &
former City Paper food critic David Snyder (@PhilaFoodie)
Whole Roasted Pig with sherry rosemary gastrique from McCrossen's Tavern (@McCrossenstav). This has been a mainstay dish at Taste of the Nation for the last 3 years. I met chef Tod Wentz over this Pig in 2011 and have been a fan of him & his food ever since.

Scallop Crudo with parsley kimchi & beet pickled turnips, a refreshing and creative bite from
Fork Restaurant (@ForkRestaurant) and the brainchild of former NYC chef of Torrisi Eli Kulp (@EliKulp)
A stellar Springtime bowl of Green Gazpacho with a slow poached shrimp from Bar Ferdinand (@BarFerdinand)
Chef Mike Solomonov of Zahav Restaurant (@zahavrestaurant) and Philly chef Jennifer Carroll (@ChefJenCarroll)
Team Bibou (@biboubyob): Server Jeffrey with Chef/Owner Pierre Calmels,
who crafted a vibrant Watermelon & Beet soup
Crab and Shrimp with Salmon Roe baked in French Brick, from new chef Gina Rodriguez
of Serrano (@serranophilly) 
Amsterdam Street Sandwich from soon-to-be-opened byob NOORD on East Passyunk Avenue.
Herring with cucumber & pickled onion from Chef Joncarl Lachman.
Anticipated menu from NOORD, one of the most-talked about new restaurants set to open May 8th.
Brisket Taco from Chef Chair David Katz of Creekstone Farms (@CreekstoneFarms)
Quick pic with awesome dude and Season 7 Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga (@KSbraga)
Signature Creekstone Farms Meatloaf with Aligot Potatoes & Garbanzo beans,
sided with crispy chips from Sbraga (@SBRAGA_Dining)
House-made Charcuterie from 10Arts (@10Arts) & Chef Nathan Volz (@Nathan_Volz):
Lamb Rillette, salume, pickled vegetables
Team Brauhaus Schmitz (@BrauhausSchmitz), Philly's only authentic German Bierhall & Restaurant:
Exec Sous Henrik Ringbom (@Hringbom), Chef/Owner Jeremy Nolan (@BrauhausChef), & PR/Marketing gal Marci Prester (@marciprester)

Chilled cucumber soup with smoked salmon & pumpernickel crumbs from Brauhaus Schmitz

Chef Peter Woolsey of French classic Bistrot La Minette (@BistroLaMinette) dished out Creekstone Farms braised beef cheeks marketed by his adorable son.
Chef Peter Woolsey with his French-born wife and son. 
Soy Spring rolls from chef Jon Cichon of venerable Lacroix at Rittenhouse (@lacroixbar210)
Hanging with Chef Tod Wentz and enjoying Leffe beer,
the premium brew served exclusively at Taste

Chef Mark Regan (@m_regan) of South Philly Tap Room (@SpTapRoom) tossing cured Fluke with salsa verde. The raw fish preparations during the night were very impressive.

Cured fluke with salsa verde topped with grated lomo
Holding the Hammer of Glory from Philly Beer Week, which is held annually in June
Emcee Marc Summers, Chef Lee Styer of Fond, Mike Jerrick (@MikeFOX29) from FOX