Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Several Maine chefs who volunteer with the Good Shepherd Food Bank’s “Cooking Matters” program offered their services cooking for the organization’s annual gala dinner Thursday night.
The dinner was in honor of Dead River Company, which received the food bank’s JoAnnPike Humanitarian Award to recognize the company’s Share the Warmth charitable giving program.
The food bank’s Auburn warehouse was transformed into a restaurant for the evening while guests enjoyed apps and drinks (Baxter Brewing donated the beer). Shelves of foodstuffs towered over the gathering, and bistro tables had canned goods as centerpieces.
Chris Gould, the former chef at Ken Oringer’s Uni Sashimi Bar in Boston, prepared the salad. Gould said he is near closing on a space for his new restaurant in Portland.
Gould’s dish was a Turkish-inspired salad made with carrots, onions, beets and dried beans.
Portland restaurateur David Turin served an app of chicken andouille sausage with brandy apple cream, Granny Smiths and Macs, garnished with Granny Smith and pea tendril salad.
Other restaurants represented at the event were Duckfat and the “Rooms” restaurants in Portland, and Azure Cafe of Freeport. Chef Harding Smith brought cavatelli and lamb meatballs. Jeff Landry of The Farmer’s Table in Portland did a take on fish and chips, serving pan-seared brandade with a root vegetable vinegar-based slaw and chips. James Tranchemontagne did a play on shepherd’s pie, serving shepherds pie-filled crepes with gruyere cheese.
Chefs had been asked to consider making dishes that could be made with food from the pantry or reflected Good Shepherd programs.
Eloise Humphrey and Daphne Comaskey of El Camino Cantina in Brunswick made organic black beans and refried beans served with avocado leaf-scented rice. They said they thought the dish would suit the food pantry’s “Backpack Program” that provides elementary school students with bags of food that can get them through the weekend so they won’t go hungry.
Brian O’Hea of Academe in Kennebunk made a sous vide jerk chicken topped with brussels sprouts slaw with a roasted mango vinaigrette. When I stopped by his station, he was whipping up a blend of bananas and polenta to go with it.
One of the highlights of the evening was the food bank’s new food truck, which you can read all about in next Wednesday’s Food & Dining section. Chefs Rob Evans and Karl Deuben served cheeseburger handpies from the truck, along with a panelle served with fennel, goat ricotta and Duckfat’s coppa.
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