Every year, Louisiana Cookin' Magazine names five up and coming Louisiana chefs as their Chefs to Watch. The chefs then create a five course menu that is cooked up at the Chefs to Watch dinner in New Orleans to benefit Cafe Reconcile. Fortunately for me, I got to attend this year's event to see what sort of wizardry the chefs could cook up. Unfortunately for me, I showed up "slightly late" and did not receive any of the pre-dinner cocktails or passed hors d'oeuvres. This is the second year that that's happened to me. I understand keeping a tight schedule with so much going on, but this time I was really bummed. I actually arrived right on time, and plenty of people were still up an mingling. Oh well... with a five course dinner awaiting all paired with wine from Republic, I knew I wouldn't leave hungry or entirely sober.
|Shrimp and Andouille Beignets with Crawfish Corn Maque Choux|
Chef Zac Watters, executive chef of Zachary's in Mandeville, presented the initial dish to the crowd of over 400 people at Harrah's. His shrimp and andouille beignets were set atop crawfish corn maque choux to provide a duo of classic Louisiana flavors. He then added a little ravigote sauce with onion, lemon, dijon mustard, and more to give the dish a little pizzaz. The dish got the entire meal off to a great start. The beignets were unique and rather tasty and the corn carried enough pop to whet the palate for the wine and more great grub.
|Smoked Tomato Soup with White Wine Crab and Creme Fraiche|
|Goat Cheese and Blueberry Salad with Pistachios and Blueberry-Vodka Vinaigrette|
|Zapp's-Crusted Cobia with Garden Vegetable Hash and Smoked Tomato Butter Sauce|
|Toasted Grits Waffle with Buttermilk Ice Cream and Bacon Caramel Sauce|
My compliments to all the chefs who prepared the meal as well as everyone else who helped them out in the kitchen. Also congrats to the chefs and to Louisiana Cookin' for putting on such a great dinner for a wonderful cause. Not only does the Chefs to Watch dinner serve as a tremendous way to recognize young culinary talent in our state, but it also provides much needed resources to Cafe Reconcile so that they can provide job training and education in the culinary arts to at-risk populations in New Orleans.