This write-up is a special recap of the tablehopper CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) dinner, with class/session number 33. This event was generously hosted by ~BAMBUDDHA LOUNGE~ GM Michael Shaulis and executive chef Jessica Gorin--thank you so much for making this night possible, and cheers to your kitchen and attentive service staff, too.
It was quite the evening: we were seated outside at one long table under the cozy heat lamps, 16 of us in all, and executive chef Gorin treated us to one heck of a spread. I was so impressed with how open-minded all the students were--each and every one of them tried the amuse bouche of a raw oyster on the half shell, some experiencing their very first oyster. And only one "meh"! A great start.
It was an evening full of questions, inspiration, and coming together over chef Gorin's globetrotting cuisine that provided an exciting and flavor-loaded platform to discuss a variety of exotic ingredients, preparations, and influences. We also chewed the fat about topics like food writing, the local restaurant reviewing circuit, eating sustainably and locally, dining etiquette, and we also went over the glossary chef Gorin and I prepared, covering any culinary terms and ingredients the students encountered on the menu.
Special thanks to CleanFish, who so kindly donated the Laughing Bird Shrimp and Loch Duart salmon for the dinner, plus Modesto Food Distributors Inc., who provided us with Fulton Valley Farms chicken.
Below I have posted the menu, and instead of writing this week's review, I am happy to pass the baton to student Nina Flower-Moore, who took a bunch of notes all night and wrote up her thoughtful and detailed take on the dinner, with a little feedback from her fellow students. She's got a serious flair for food writing; I'm so impressed, and know you will be, too. I am also posting comments below from the other students with their thoughts on the dinner, enjoy!
I created a flickr album of the event, click here if you'd like to see more pics!
One last thing before we dive in here: one student told me tasting this food made her really want to try harder in the CHEFS program. She said it totally inspired her, and made her see how good food can taste. Another was so excited by the Thai tom yam soup we had that he wanted to make Thai food the base for a menu he was preparing for class. Yeah, that's the stuff, isn't it?
CHEFS PROGRAM DINNER
THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2008
Effingham Oyster with Green Tea-Shiso Granite
First Course (Shared Appetizers)
Edamame in Shichimi Togarashi
Prawn Fritters with Siracha Aioli
Mixed Seafood Ceviche with Shrimp Chips
Spicy Tom Yam Soup
Third Course (Shared Salads)
Ma-po Duck Salad
Fourth Course (Family Style Entrees and Sides)
Loch Duart Salmon with Yellow Curry
Stir-fried Bok Choy and Lotus Root
Assorted Dessert Platters
And now, the review of the meal from guest writer Nina Flower-Moore from CHEFS Session #33:
"We started off with a petite oyster topped with refreshing, lightly sweetened green tea shiso granite. It was succulent, sweet and followed by a mellow brininess. It was reminiscent of the sea as a good oyster should be.
"The sustainably farmed "Laughing Bird Shrimp" Ceviche had a voluptuous mouthfeel, it was flavorful and almost meaty in texture, but tender at the same time. To our delight it was paired with colorful shrimp chips,which resembled a playful interpretation of chips and dip. It was presented in a beautiful maroon colored banana flower petal.
"A hard act to follow, but the mung bean battered prawn fritters were delectable and addictive, served with a siracha aioli, a perfect accompaniment for this outstanding appetizer.
"Our entree "Show Stopper Salmon" is what they should call this dish. Presented in a delicate curry sauce with micro cilantro and crunchy roasted cashews. It was served with coconut rice and baby bok choy. The fish Loch Duart Salmon was tender, flaky and sweet. The coconut rice was fragrant and the bok choy cooked to perfection.
"An additional entree of Lemongrass Chicken was outstanding as well, bronzed on the outside but fully cooked, moist and tender inside.
"Following the meal a chocolate chai bread pudding, the best bread pudding in California, and a slap your mom pineapple tarte tatin.
"A wonderful meal, wonderful ambience, great hosts, great time. Thanks to our chef instructors, CHEFS staff and above all to our sponsors for their support and for believing in us."
Here's a variety of comments from the CHEFS students who attended the dinner:
"The desserts tasted like they were made with love. They took my senses by storm and took me to a happy place." -Paul
"For the first time in 1/2 a century of existence I dined like I belonged to a royal family. Thank you very much." -Dexter
"What a great experience, a five course meal, I've never had one before." -Latoya
"Not my kind of food but I ate everything and it was all good." -Jonathan
"Enjoyed everything, the chef is master of seasoning, nothing was over or under seasoned." -Ron
"Soup was too hot and spicy but I ate it all anyway, it was that good." -Susan
"I ate all five desserts, the Chocolate Chai Bread Pudding sure wasn't Mom's bread pudding. The Tapioca was a blast." -Charles
"WOW, at the first sight of this dish (ceviche) my eyes were preparing my palate for something great!" -Robert
"The Drink: basil, strawberry, soda and lime, a rich deep color, with specks of green basil made me want to chug it down like beer on a hot day." -Robert
"Over-all, I got a lot of inspiration. The whole concept of the meal was great." -Nina
"The presentation was elegant and it all tasted good too."
"I liked the fact that the Chef went out of her way to educate us, joining us at the table and explaining things. She even joined us again after dinner to answer questions."
"The meal as a whole had a nice presentation, wonderful colors, tantalizing smells, every part of this meal left me waiting for the next bite." -Clifford
"The ambience, with open curtains, tropical plants, candlelight and authentic food and tastes made me feel like I was in the Orient." -Tom
"Oh my God folks, let the game begin! The tastes, seasonings, flavors, mouth watering textures and The Sweets..............." -Robert
"Thanks to all of you for making a group of people very happy, I wish you could all have heard their expressions of joy. They were excited, delighted and very grateful. Thanks again. This was successful beyond my wildest dreams and would love to do it again with other classes." -Bill Taylor, Program Manager for CHEFS
601 Eddy St.
Cross: Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94109