So my sister Cheryl works for Self.com. She loves her job, especially all the perks she gets. On Tuesday my sister had been asked if she wanted to attend the Top Chef Masters Premiere Tasting event. My mother LOVES Top Chef and all those foodie shows. So Cheryl asked if she could bring a plus one to the event. She got to take my mom to this awesome event. So as a guest blogger..Cheryl!
My mom and I headed into the city Tuesday after work. We had a fiasco trying to get into the city a few weeks ago to see Annie with the busses almost running people off the road. This time we decided to drive to the Secaucus train station and train it in. It was so fast and easy. Once in the city, which on this particular day was 95 degrees, we got a cab to SoHo. Even though they told us it was a tasting event we didn’t realize how much food there would be. Stupidly we had Chipotle before we went to the venue. We didn’t want to be those people scarfing down all this food because we were hungry.
The event was open to the public if you purchased tickets ($75) beforehand. As “press” we got to go to the event an hour early before the public. It was a really nice venue and the air conditioning felt fabulous on a hot day!
When you entered the venue they gave you four drinks to choose one. I had a berry punch and my mom the premiere punch. Hers was way better. After we got inside we realized we should not have eaten. I watch Top Chef and to describe it would almost be like one of their challenges. Each chef had a table set up with sous chefs making individual plates of food. There were 7 chef tables in all as well as hors d’oeuvres and a sandwich table. We started out walking around and toward the back we saw the two hosts of the show Gail Simmons and Curtis Stone, as well as Andy Cohen from BRAVO. My mom was like a little kid when she saw them!
They had their little speech about the show. Chase Sapphire Preferred (a co-sponsor) also donated money to City Harvest which is an awesome group in NYC that gives food to the homeless and hungry. Then they showed the first 10 minutes of the new season. At that point we learned that all the dishes they were serving were what the contestants cooked that first challenge. There are 13 chefs on the show, but I think these were the top dishes since there were only 7. I will definitely have to check out the premiere to see which one won!
Press events are mostly to get the press to write about something. They did have a neat little thing for fans of the show. They had a mock kitchen set up and chef coats to take a photo booth picture. They even gave you print out and you could email the photos to yourself!
Now let’s get to the food! These sandwiches were the last thing I tried to fit into my overly full belly but the Lobester Grilled Cheese and Chicken Torta were fabulous! I am going to rank the food in order from my least favorite to my favorite and hopefully winner of the challenge. Let’s go!
My least favorite dish of the night is usually my favorite dish at any restaurant I go. So to say the least I was so disappointed. Sue Zemanick made Mahi Escabeche with Grilled Corn and Tomato Butter. Sounds delicious right? Well it might have been if it was COLD. I think this is really a problem with her sous chefs that were manning the table at the time. I get that at these events you have to crank out food, but if no one has taken a plate you put out a few minutes ago pull it back because it’s going to be cold and gross. I spit it out after one bite.
The next dish I actually did not have because my stomach was close to explosion, but my mom tried it. Jenn Louis made Clams with Fregola, Bacon and Leeks with Cabbage and Fennel Salad. She said it was good but the salad didn’t really add much to the dish.
David Burke made Shrimp with Smokey White Bean Hummus and Candied Lemon Vinaigrette. The one thing I don’t understand about tastings is how you are supposed to taste stuff. The room was pretty packed, with most tables occupied. When I went for this shrimp dish I had a drink in my hand and I assumed (wrongly) that the shrimp would not have a tail. I was wrong but didn’t realize until after I put the whole piece in my mouth. Needless to say I had to spit it out once I tasted the first crunch. The flavors were good though.
I didn’t pay much attention when they showed the first challenge, but there were a lot of fish dishes. Richard Sandoval made Seared Salmon and Beef Tiradito. The salmon was cooked ok. I like mine a little more sushi grade, but the sauce was delicious!
Finally some beef dishes! Sang Yoon made Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Cilantro Jalapeno Vinagrette. The cut of pork I got was a little fatty and the sauce was spicy but not jalapeno spicy like I expected. Pretty tasty though.
I love a well cooked steak. Jennifer Jasinski made Orange and Ginger Carmelized Skirt Steak with Roasted Muchroom-Fregola Salad and Preserved Lemon Yogurt. The steak was delicious and the fregola salad! Well I almost went back for just more of that. It was so good!
And finally my favorite dish of the night. Franklin Becker made Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Creamed Leeks, Charred Onion-Green Apple Soubise, Baby Spinach Salad and Pistachio Dust Cast-Iron Skillet Mushrooms. It might be a long description but it was so freaking delicious my taste buds were exploding. The fish was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth. The salad it sat on top of was equally amazing. If I hadn’t eaten before and felt like I was going to explode I would have eaten 5 more plates of this! I also love that he has a new book Good Fat, Great Flavor for healthy cooking. Definitely checking that out at the book store next time I am there! I also am thinking of a trip to his restaurant The Little Beet in NYC.
All in all it was a great event and a great experience. The staff was excellent and the food was superb. I hope another one of these rolls around soon!