Thursday, April 24, 2014
A significant chef’s shuffle occurred this week--namely, that Frederick Eliot--Portland’s Frenchman chef--who dazzled diners from his kitchen at Spread has been whisked away to preside at Petite Jacqueline where he will commandeer the stove in true Gallic fashion.
Eliot's forthcoming post at Petite Jacqueline
Chef Frederic Eliot
He’s helping out now at Michelle and Steve Corry’s other dining hall, the stellar Five Fifty-Five, until he starts at PJ in November.
I’ve long thought that this well-liked eatery needed to expand its French-inspired menu with more authenticity. Eliot is certainly capable of leading the charge. For starters he will offer more rustic French fare to include offal and charcuterie. For my druthers, I hope to see such signature bistro dishes on the menu as chicken fricassee, gigot au pistou, savory soufflés and even a classic tarte tatin, encased in caramel and a sweet short-crust pastry.
One of Eliot's signature dishes, a platter of bone marrow under a tomato soffrito
For starters, the restaurant will also hold a notable event on Sunday, November 24, with a special 3-course dinner commemorating the release of Beaujolais Nouveau. That might be the opportune time to see how Eliot handles his new post.
Harvest on the Harbor is roaring into town this week. Opening day is Wednesday, October 23, at the Ocean Gateway Pier and runs through Saturday, October 26. This is the sixth annual harvest celebration--an extravaganza celebrating the talents of Maine’s chefs, farmers, producers, restaurateurs, winemakers and brew masters.
Harvest on the Harbor, SRO as shown from a past scene at Ocean Gateway reception
There are 125 exhibitors showing off their skills throughout the presentation period with most of Portland’s familiar food-world names in attendance.
On Wednesday the Grand Tasting takes place at 6 PM. Such participants as the chefs from Primo, Sea Glass, Zapoteca, Azure Café, et al, will be presenting as well as Maine cellar and brewery masters showing.. For full details go to Harvest on the Harbor/Schedule.
Unfortunately tickets for many of the events are now sold out. But there are still spots available for International Maine: Taste the World and Top of the Crop: Maine’s Best Farm to Table Restaurant competition.
Given the biggest play each year is the Lobster Chef Competition. Here is where four finalist chefs present creative dishes using lobster. That the lobster industry is so important to Maine is probably reason enough why this event is given such big coverage. For me I want my lobster in the rough rather than all gussied up. Still it draws an SRO crowd every year and, of course, the competition is sold out.
Harvest on the Harbor Ocean Gateway, the tables are set for diners to view one of the competitions
I’m also looking forward to the Top of the Crop show where four farm-to-table chef-finalists duke it out. This year’s competitors are Chef Hanson from Cleonice; Chef Conley from Gather, Chef Altiero from Cafe Miranda and Chef Levi from Vinland. The latter is David Levi, whose long-awaited citadel to locavore fare should open in the next several months.
Some tickets for the various presentations are still available, but you need to buy them ASAP if you want to attend. For more information, go to the events page at Harvest on the Harbor.
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.