One Night, Eleven Kitchens
One Night, Eleven Kitchens
April 24, 6-9 pm
Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State College
On Sunday, April 24 2005, I participated as a worker in the first-ever One Night, Eleven Kitchens scholarship fundraiser at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State College. The event highlighted prominent chefs from Cincinnati restaurants. Students were permitted to work with these chefs.
Student workers (like me) were asked to arrive at 4:30, but I arrived around 4:00 and reported to Garde Manger 2 to work with two of the ‘celebrity’ chefs who were highlighted in the fundraiser. The chefs in my kitchen were Chef Jean-Robert de Carvel of Jean-Robert at Pigall’s and Chef Paul Sturkey of Sturkey’s.
These two chefs designed a delicious item for the guests at the fundraiser. It was a sweet pea puree topped with Oyster Mushrooms (sauteed with parsley, shallots, and olive oil), seared halibut with a veal-balsamic sauce, candied baby onions, and an asparagus & roasted cherry tomato and frissee salad with a balsamic dressing. Around the plate was dotted a balsamic total reduction to add an intense flavor.
We (myself and 3-4 other workers assigned to the room) spent the next several hours chopping, dicing, sauteeing, stewing, roasting, and generally supporting our two chefs. Garde Manger 2, the kitchen where we were working, is a large open space and was largely empty for much of the ‘prep time’. As guests began arriving, though, we were overwhelmed by the throng of people who crowded into the kicthen for a tour. Guests seemed to be quite interested in what we were working on, and had many questions about the pea puree I was working on (and guesses as to what it was — I heard everything from Avacado to Mashed Potatoes (an interesting guess given the bright green color of the puree!)).
After the prep work was done, we loaded our items onto a warmer and moved upstairs for service in a large open reception area of the college.
From all reports, our table (staffed by Tim, myself, Chef Meg Galvin, Chef Jean-Robert, Chef Paul, and supported by Katrina) was the busiest of all the stations. We started the evening with 300 pieces of halibut, all of which we served. Our team worked very well in assembly-line fashion, and we turned out amazing product (if I do say so myself) that was exceptionally well-received. Because of the long line of guests wanting to try this dish, we worked ‘heads-down’ for a large portion of the evening, focusing only on the dish being assembled and not taking even a moment to take a look around.
When our line dwindled and finally evaporated, the workers were allowed to wander from table-to-table, so I had the chance to sample several items from other stations, including a fruit-topped-meraingue dessert, a duck salad, a watercress soup, and an obscene amount of foie gras with pineapple relish, along with a couple glasses of very nice wine.
I headed home around 10:30pm, very tired, more than a little sore, full, and quite happy.