It is a real joy when my schedule is so impacted that I might have to take a “bye” from producing my Culinary Corner article, giving me the chance to tap the talents of a good friend who can also write and cook. Charmaine Coimbra and I have worked together very well since she became a Cambrian, so I was pleased that she agreed to serve as a guest columnist.
— Consuelo Macedo
Cambria Farmers Market beckoned with a springtime cornucopia of fresh and sweet vegetables that we crave after months of winter squash and potatoes. And that’s why, after winning a silent auction bid for a private in-home chef’s dinner for six (plus the two hosts), during last year’s Soupabration in September, the winners agreed that April was worth the wait.
Chef Dakota Weiss, the executive chef at the W in Los Angeles, donated her time to take the six silent auction winners through Cambria Farmers Market (as she would do for her own commercial kitchen), and then demonstrate her techniques while preparing the meal.
Chris and Mark Landgreen hosted the dinner for auction winners Judy Schuster, Kathy Oppel, Maureen and Bob Kasper, and Chuck and Renet Clark.
Frank Cutruzzola and Lisa Miller of Cutruzzola Vineyards in Cambria brought their Reislings and pinot noirs wines to pair with Chef Weiss’ meal. Cutruzzola and Miller’s picks paired perfectly with Chef Weiss’s cooking style and each of her four-courses.
The first course was a farmers market salad of shaved spring vegetables with a Reisling vinaigrette (recipe to follow); the second course was a smoked shrimp succotash with a truffle vinaigrette drizzle; third course, a Charter Oaks of Templeton spring lamb racks with peas and carrots.
Dessert consisted of a salted hazelnut pot de cremè with strawberry jam and French toast crust.
These benefit dinners require communication between the event coordinator, the chef, the hosts, the winners, the winery and the volunteers or paid staff who will help with the meal. If you try a private chef’s dinner for your charity, be organized and detailed oriented.
Consider table settings, cutlery, plates and wine glasses. Designate one person to coordinate dates with the auction winners, the hosts, the winery and, most importantly, a very busy chef. Where will the chef prepare the meal? How will the food be purchased? If the chef is from out of town, where will the chef stay? Who will serve the meal? Who will clean? Who will assist the chef?
(Cook’s Notes from Consuelo: The gourmet dinner was a resounding and memorable success, paying such attention to detail, but more importantly the delicious meal itself! All the participants report how much they enjoyed being an integral part of the preparations, also.)
This recipe is dressed to impress but without a whole lot of fuss. You will need a mandoline to thinly shave the vegetables. Round up a small bowl to whip up the vinaigrette, and a larger one to blend the dressing with the shaved vegetables.
1/2 cup Reisling vinegar
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 oranges
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Pour the Reisling vinegar into the dressing mixing bowl; add the next four ingredients. Slowly blend in the extra-virgin olive oil and add salt to taste. Set aside.
Shaved Spring Vegetables
Carrots (1-inch or larger diameter)
Thinly shave the beets and the fennel, and then slice into ½-inch strips. Thinly shave the carrots. Place shaved vegetables in large salad bowl. Add dressing and blend. Serve cold. Chef Weiss also added bits of the green fern-like leaves from the fennel stalk into the salad.
The next Soupabration is set for Oct. 20 at Camp Ocean Pines from 2 to 5:30 p.m. and will benefit Pacific Wildlife Care. There will probably be a chef’s dinner on the silent auction table. For details, call 927-3357.