Fly on the Wall: The 2011 Portland Rising Stars Honorees Dinner

by Francoise Villeneuve
Shannon Sturgis David Alan Kester
December 2011

The StarChefs.com Rising Stars Revue™
Portland Rising Stars Honorees Dinner
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cocktails and Passed Hors d’oeuvres

Rare Cervena Venison, Ginger, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Persimmon Kimchi
Godello Bodegas Godeval, Vina Godeval Blanco, Spain 2010

Grilled Lamb Chops, Tamarind Chutney, and Cilantro Yogurt
Tarima Hill Monastrell, DO Alicante, Spain 2010

Mistletoe Punch Cocktail: Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Cranberry, Orange, Tea, and Winter Spices

Highland Park “Negroni”: Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Bonal Gentiane, Port, Lemon Twist, and Lavender Tincture

Dinner

Croute au Fromage with Grand Cru Gruyère Reserve, Hedgehog Mushrooms, and Park Kitchen Ham
Chef Scott Dolich, Park Kitchen and The Bent Brick
Adelsheim, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2009

Salad of Cannellini Beans, Poached Oregon Albacore Tuna Conserva, Red Onions, House Giardiniera, and Olive Oil
Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana
La Miranda Garnacha Blanca, DO Somontano, Aragon, Spain 2009

Australian Lamb Confit, Pickled Asian Pears, Shaved Porcini, Watercress, and Hazelnuts
Chef Thomas Boyce, Bluehour
Viña Albina Reserva, DOCa Rioja, Spain 2004
Holiday Collins: Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Lemon, Orange, Tamarind, and Ginger-Sherry Soda

Spaetzle with Riesling-braised Chicken, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Crème Fraîche, Tarragon, and Crispy Shallots
Chef Chris Israel, Grüner and Kask
Santiago Ruiz, DO Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain 2010

Silvies Valley Ranch Veal Ossobucco braised in Borsao 2010, Emmer Farro, Prosciutto di Parma, and Meyer Lemon Gremolata
Chef Vitaly Paley, Paley’s Place
Alto Moncayo, Do Campo de Borja, Aragon, Spain 2009

Truffles featuring Olive Oil from Spain: Chèvre, Olive Oil, and Rosemary Truffles
Chocolatier Sarah Hart, Alma Chocolates
Solera 1847 Cream Sherry, Gonzalez Byass, DO Jerez

Highland Park 18-year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Nordaq FRESH Still and Sparkling Water

All plateware, glassware, and flatware provided by Steelite International

Photos

2011 StarChefs.com Portland Rising Stars Honorees Dinner at Bluehour

Videos

2011 StarChefs.com Portland Rising Stars Honorees Dinner at Bluehour

On any given night, how often does a chef actually get the chance to sit down? With this in mind, we teamed up with Thomas Boyce’s team at Bluehour to put together a family-style seated dinner (the first seated honorees dinner we’ve had in years), honoring the 2011 Portland Rising Stars and their mentors.

Bluehour

Communal tables at Bluehour set with Steelite plateware, glasses, and flatware

The hall (or more accurately, the longest table in existence) was aptly decked with sprigs of holly and candelabras, like a Dickensian banquet scene. And overhead, boughs sprouting from the ceiling twinkled with fairy lights. Rising Stars stomped in from the freezing Portland December night, unwrapped themselves from the obligatory arctic explorer wear, and kicked back for a night of celebration. And who better to cook for this group of up-and-comers than Portland culinary mentors and heroes Scott Dolich, Cathy Whims, Chris Israel, Vitaly Paley, and Sarah Hart from Alma Chocolates? (For those who haven’t yet checked out Whims’ Oven & Shaker, it’s now open and serving the same killer pizza as Nostrana). 

Host Chef Thomas Boyce of Bluehour and Layla Azimi of StarChefs.com

Host Chef Thomas Boyce of Bluehour and Layla Azimi of StarChefs.com

After a stiff cocktail or three—and juicy grilled Australian lamb chops with a tart tamarind chutney—the Rising Stars and their mentors drew up a chair and tucked into (appropriately) stellar dishes from a rustic Italian white bean and Oregon tuna salad by Cathy Whims to a pasta dish with an Alpine bent in the form of Riesling-braised chicken with späetzle from Chef Israel. Dolich’s croute was a sophisticatedly ungooey adaptation of the Swiss cheese-on-toast dish, and as the evening drew to a close, Hart’s fruity Spanish olive oil and fudgy goat cheese chocolates sparked conversations anew. “What’s in that one with salt on top?” was whispered from one end of the table to the other as eyes popped open and chocolates melted in our mouths (and on our fingers). After many, many beverage pairings—courtesy of Wines of Spain and Castagna’s Jack Hott, whose pairing advice we shamelessly courted at every possibly turn—the mentors took the mic to congratulate their Rising Stars, fueled by sentiment, respect, and a beautifully smoky glass of 18-year Highland Park Scotch.

Mentor to Rising Star Chef Aaron Barnett, Chef Gary Danko of Gary Danko - San Francisco, CA

Mentor to Rising Star Chef Aaron Barnett, Chef Gary Danko of Gary Danko - San Francisco, CA

Gary Danko ribbed his protégé Aaron Barnett about his rise from the days in Florida, when clients only wanted to dine between 5:30 and 6:30, and Philippe Boulot from The Heathman recalled spotting Sarah Pliner’s talent early on—but not letting on! Tommy Habetz, who worked with Gabriel Rucker back in 2005, remembered being taken aback by his brashness and youth. Robert Reynolds spoke to the ever-humble Kristen Murray’s unique talent, and the “grace, panache, and power” with which she juggles restaurant service and culinary school instruction. Tim Healea’s mentor—and West Coast bread guru—Craig Ponsford joked about exploring Hare Krishna with Healea. Some mentors celebrating their protégés still have the privilege to work with them—Scott Dolich shared a few warm and fuzzies with the crowd about his protégé (and The Bent Brick chef) Will Preisch, and Castagna Owner Monique Siu tracked Jack Hott’s rise at the restaurant from bus boy to sommelier.

Rosemary Truffles by Chocolatier Sarah Hart of Alma Chocolates - Portland, OR

Rosemary Truffles by Chocolatier Sarah Hart of Alma Chocolates plated on Steelite's Crucial Details Sectionals

Their speeches firmly in the bag, guests chair-hopped and mingled, lingering over chocolates and Sherry as they swapped kitchen stories. In the end, it struck us just how close-knit a community Portlanders really are—and we love ‘em for it.