Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shoot for the Moon and You Just May Land in the Stars

Last night was the “StarChefs Rising Stars Revue” held at the National Housing Center Atrium on 15th Street, across from the Madison Hotel. StarChefs.com is publication for “culinary insiders”. Those in the industry are very familiar with the magazine, while those who may be the typical layperson, like me (I LOVE great food and wine and those who can create such, though I am no where near the definition of a “foodie”), may have never been introduced to it until last night.

I was a guest of DC Modern Luxury (thank you Peter Abrahams, Publisher!) who was one of the sponsors. If you were one of the 500 attendees at last night’s extravaganza, you would have hopefully walked out with a full stomach and one of their holiday magazines that were handed out as a complimentary gift.

We started with the early VIP reception. That was really nice to be able to walk through the Atrium and check out what chef was where, and get a good lay of the land. Some of the winners represented were: Eric Ziebold (CityZen, in the Mandarin Oriental, who came from the prestigious French Laundry), Heather Chittum (Pastry Chef, Dish and Notti Bianche) , Tony Conte (Oval Room), RJ Cooper (Vidalia), and Todd Thrasher (Bar Chef, Restaurant Eve and the PX). Many more winners were represented and each had a wine or beer that was to be paired with their dishes.

Now, I LOVE the idea of walking around, talking, tasting and learning, especially with these culinary masters, who were sharing THEIR time AWAY from their own employers on a Wednesday evening during the holiday season. That was just fantastic! And to have wine experts near each station set up (as the chefs and sous chefs worked away) with a wine that went so well with each dish’s taste, was just a fabulous idea. I’d say the only challenge that didn’t make this the most perfect event, was the issue of eating and drinking at the same time. Because this was a “walking” event, and because the wine glasses they handed out to each attendee were no teeny weenies (which we were all happy about!) it became a bit cumbersome to actually do what they wanted us to do: PAIR the food with the wine. I may not make it on “Survivor” for longer than 5 minutes should they put me on a deserted island with crazy people, but my instincts and survivor skills in a situation like last night, allowed me to spot a place near the back where my friends and I could stand, but our glasses down, and eat somewhat comfortably, without spilling on each other or ourselves. (Ok, maybe that is not the most noble of the survivor skill sets, but this is the life I lead! One must be able to be deal with all situations presented, especially when it comes to tasting a fabulous oatmeal ravioli and a silky cabernet sauvignon!)

As I was getting fuller and fuller as the night went on, so was the Atrium. The place was filling with foodies, industry folks, media, and those who just have a love and curiosity of this great city’s Master Chefs. Victoria and I headed over to OYA, to get there prior to the “industry people only VIP party” that was scheduled to start around 10ish.

The VIP party filled up quickly, and we ran into some more fun people – but I had to call it a night. Something about eating incredible dishes for four straight hours and drinking wines and champagne was making me very sleepy (and OYA is dark and comfy with the fireplaces built into the walls), so I headed home.

StarChefs.com (based in New York) tours the country and comes back to DC every two years. They meet with about 60 or so different chefs to decide on their winners in each category. The criteria in rating come from not only the dishes themselves, but how the chef interacts with the community and the establishment itself. It is a really cool idea, especially for Washington, DC, to be a part of this celebration of how wonderful our own chefs are. Years ago, we have lagged behind major markets in the restaurant and fine culinary world, but over the past several years, with so many new places opening, we are really attracting top grade chefs and restaurants. I heard on WTOP, over the next year, 900,000 new restaurants are expected to open in 2007 + in the U.S. We look forward to some fantastic new ones in the DC region, but until then, we congratulate the fine ones who were winners last night!

For more information on StarChefs.com please check out click on their name to get to their site!

1 comment:

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