Celebrity Chefs Tour, Anthology, Little Italy

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:02

Billed as the Celebrity Chefs Tour, this four-hour food tasting and cooking event’s name can lead to incredibly high expectations.

Instantly, the mind races with impossibility: Eric Ripert, Michael Mina and Thomas Keller, or at least the Voltaggio brothers, strutting off the Lindbergh Field tarmac, knives in hand. In slow motion, no less.

But for this event, celebrity meant a season five Top Chef contestant from San Diego and a Food Network cupcake show contestant. The tour part of the event’s name could only be justified from the latter’s Los Angeles commute.

Food fantasies aside, this event, held on a late Sunday morning at Anthology, turned out to be an enjoyable experience.

Emulating a tasting menu of sorts, the event took place in five parts and included tasting samples of each dish while chefs provided live demonstrations. Recipes were provided for the entire event.

For an early morning drink, Cowboy Star’s bartender Garth Flood took the stage to demonstrate three drinks, including the Old Fashioned, a hot Whiskey, as well as a Tequila drink. While Flood shared his insights into the quality of alcoholic ingredients, tiny samples of the Old Fashioned were served as a belly warmer for a cold and rainy day. Seconds were easily had thanks to an eager waitstaff.

Afterwards, Cheese Wiz Gina of Venissimo cheeses, demonstrated her method for constructing a balanced cheese plate, then following up with a tutorial for fresh ricotta. Two cheese samples were available for tasting between presentations.

For the appetizer course, Anthology executive chef Todd Allison, along with an assistant, took part in creating both a butternut squash rock shrimp risotto, as well as a beet and buratta salad. Along with wonderful presentation, Chef Allison’s plate revealed flavors that were a clean balance between savory and sweetness.

For an entree, Top Chef contestant Richard Sweeney espoused the value of pork belly dishes and demonstrated a rolled pork belly with bacon sage cornbread stuffing, black pepper milk gravy served with a side of smokey collard greens. Sweeney’s dish, which used bacon redundantly – that’s a good thing – was an exceptional comfort choice for the day’s wet weather.

Afterwards, pastry chef “Red Velvet” Stephanie Gaxiola, a Food Network Cupcake Wars contestant, along with two assistants, presented an interactive demonstration of three different cupcakes, including a pumpkin French toast, caramel candy apple pie (both pictured below), and chocolate candy corn cupcakes. Guests were encourage to come up an help with the demonstration. The result was a moist and flavorful bite.

The event included a promotional demonstration. La Jolla Cost Plus World Market General Manager put on a table setting demonstration while her assistant promoted the fall line of tablewares. In return, Cost Plus supplied the swag bags, as well three gift baskets for raffling.

Overall, the event ran smoothly with incredibly prompt service, and each of the speakers was entertaining in each of his or her own way. Where Chef Allison was humble and down to earth, Chef Sweeney was full of entertaining sarcasm and wit. Gaxiola, on the other hand, was bubbly and equally amusing at that.

While tickets were priced at $70/person, at the last minute, 25 tickets were offered at two for one. The series will continue Nov. 14 and Dec. 5 with different chef guests.

Celebrity Chefs Tour
1337 India Street
San Diego CA 92101


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