Friday, December 6, 2013
Chefs don't usually cook that much for themselves.
When they're not in a restaurant kitchen, the last thing they want to do it pick up a saute pan or chef's knife.
Sunday night was a different story. Maine chefs who are members of the Casco Bay Culinary Association, the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation, gathered at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks for their annual fundraising dinner and auction. Each year the event helps raise $4,000 for the scholarship program at the SMCC cuilnary school and $1,000 for the Wayside Food Program.
The ballroom at the Marriott was filled with nearly 300 chefs, cooks, culinary students, caterers and restaurant owners. To show the diversity of the crowd, some of those who attended and/or cooked were David Turin and Bo Byrne, the chefs at David's and David's 388; Melissa Bouchard, chef at DiMillo's; Matt Brown of Browne Trading Company; Kevin Fallen, owner of Personal Touch Catering and Phat Boys Diner; and Andy Charles, president of Haven's Candies.
Leave it to chefs to auction off great stuff, from bottles of wine to containers of lobster meat. The Cookie Jar bakery in Cape Elizabeth donated several gift certificates.
Before heading in to dinner, the crowd ate artisan cheese provided by Silvery Moon Creamery and native smoked seafood from Ducktrap River Farm while they drooled over the auction items. Take a gander at this knife set, which is worth $1,300 and later sold for $725:
This gigantic chunk of chocolate was as big as a small child. The 11-pound bar was valued at $100.
I coveted this roaster, but didn't bid on it. David Turin had the winning bid on this and several other items.
If someone didn't have the cash for culinary school, they could bid on this:
Dinner was served at several stations strategically placed around the room.There was a soup and salad station where guests could grab a cup of roasted tomatillo soup and this beautiful spring salad:
Melissa Bouchard's pecan-dusted haddock was served at the fish station, along with Matt Brown's ceviche fish taco made with Rhode Island fluke:
At the meat station, guests could choose from roasted porchetta with sweet potato puree and lingonberry gastrique, or smoked locally raised beef on a fresh horseradish yukon cake:
There was a hand-crafted ravioli station with three types of ravioli on the plate: Maine lobster and tarragon in lobster cream; grilled duck confit with fresh figs and lemon sage with balsamic glaze; and Tuscan white bean and basil with Parmesan frico and duo of sauces. (Watching them plate this dish was like watching NASA launch the space shuttle.)
FInally, dessert. The students in the pastry department at SMCC made an assortment of sweets they called "Earth Day Reflections on Earth, Water and Sky."
– Meredith GoadTweet
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.
Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business before turning to journalism more than a decade ago. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs. A newcomer to Portland, she is an online content producer for the Press Herald.
Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod [at] pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @susansaxelrod