|Fly on the Wall:
by Katherine Martinelli
| photos by Vicky Wasik
Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras “Corn Dogs” paired with Hoegaarden—not your average first course, but then again, this wasn’t your average party.
Winners of the 2009 Napa Sonoma Rising Stars Awards, their mentors, and select guests gathered for the Honorees Dinner, hosted by Chef Ken Frank at famed Napa institution La Toque.
And although it was June, no one complained about the wood-burning fireplace, which created an atmosphere that was warm in temperature and spirit.
Of course, when you have a room full of chefs a certain amount of clowning around is to be expected. Take for example Chef Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu sneakily trying to shuffle the place cards so he could sit next to Chef James Syhabout, a past Rising Star who also happened to be the best man at Fox’s wedding.
The gathering was raucous to say the least—John Toulze’s table could be heard roaring with laughter across the room. And might there have been some uncouth words cheerfully exchanged between chefs? It’s a distinct possibility.
Enthused by the impeccably prepared Gigha Island Halibut from Cleanfish.com (and probably egged on by the 2007 Gary Farrell Sauvignon Blanc it was paired with), one table got into a heated discussion on sustainability and seafood.
Another table got into an impassioned debate about bottled water revenue versus the more sustainable filtered water systems like Nordaq Fresh.
Michael Emery of Petrossian managed to stump his table of chefs—none of them had heard of “gray shrimp,” a small 1½-inch variety that Emery used to eat in Belgium.
The sommeliers inevitably talked shop. Towards the end of the meal Yoon Ha mysteriously disappeared into the restaurant and returned with additional bottles to share with his table.
Perhaps the 2005 Vineyard 7&8 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon went to everyone’s heads (or maybe it was the short ribs they were paired with) but by the end of the night things got pretty wild.
We say it’s just another Rising Stars Honorees Dinner. Take a look at the extensive photo gallery (below) for a peek into the self-indulgence and pure fun of the evening.
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