Fly on the Wall: The 2011 New York Rising Stars Honorees Dinner and ICC Presenters Welcome Dinner

by Emily Bell
Shannon Sturgis
October 2011

Honorees Dinner Menu

Spice-Roasted Cervena Venison Chops, Chanterelles, and Blackberries
Chef Micael Lomonaco of Porter House New York - New York, NY

Shrimp and Grits with Chorizo
Chef Christian Ragano of New York Central at the Grand Hyatt - New York, NY

Citrus-cured Sardines
Chef Missy Robbins of A Voce Madison - New York, NY

Australian Wagyu Beef Two Ways: Warm with Sancho Pepper Sauce and Cold with Ponzu
Chef David Bouley and Chef Isao Yamada of Bouley - New York, NY

Pistachio and Mint-crusted Australian Lamb
Chef Christian Ragano of New York Central - New York, NY

White Orchid Root Gazpacho
Chef Ken Oringer of Clio - Boston, MA

Chocolate Bon Bons
Pastry Chef Iacopo Falai of Caffe Falai - New York, NY

The 10-51
Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster - New York, NY

Photos 2011 New York Rising Stars Honorees Dinner and ICC Presenters Welcome Dinner

What do you do with less than two days between you and a gala packed with 300 hungry mouths? If you’re a 2011 New York Rising Star, you party. You party in really, really good company.

That’s because the New York Rising Stars Honorees Dinner doubled as an ICC Presenters Welcome Reception, gathering Rising Stars, their mentors, and ICC presenters for a night of A-lister revelry and elbow-rubbing. (It didn’t hurt that chefs like Jonathan Benno, Missy Robbins, and Michael Lomonaco were doing the cooking.) From Daniel Boulud to Barton Seaver to Andoni Luis Aduriz, the rank and file of mentors, idealists, and surrealists were on hand to toast the next generation of Rising Stars and sample the night’s menu. And what a menu it was. Helmed by Chef Christian Ragano at the comfortably luxe New York Central, the dinner featured seven dishes, two cocktails, one supremely chocolaty dessert, and a whole lot of Highland Park.

After getting their first taste of Orkney’s best (Highland Park was the Scotch seductress in Somm Slam Emcee Fred Dexheimer’s bracing Valhalla Rising cocktail), guests made their way into the central tasting room, where there were enough tasting tables and pairing stations to make an empty stomach giddy (and a full stomach repent). Chef Ragano’s “Central Shrimp and Grits” were appropriately front and center, a take on the Southern classic that was like a plate of uptown soul: sweet shrimp on a bed of lusciously cheesy grits, beautifully bisected by a racy Esprit de Sud Blanquette de Limoux bubbly. For those (few) of us pacing ourselves, Ken Oringer’s delicate White Orchid Root Gazpacho and Robbins’ dramatic curls of citrus-cured sardines—further brightened with just the slightest snap of micro parsley—were a graceful preamble to a feast of proteins.

Among those meaty bites were octopus and Berkshire pork belly, united in an ultra-tender terrine by Benno and paired with the complementary flesh and florals of a Tavel Rosé. True, we’d already sampled some of the terrine that morning in the first workshop of ICC, but it was so incredibly succulent that we went in for seconds. And thirds. Demonstrating the cycle of Rising Star life, 2009 New York Rising Star Isao Yamada plated for David Bouley, who played with Meat & Livestock Australia’s rich wagyu beef two ways (who can blame him?): warm with sancho peppers and cold with ponzu sauce. Both, as it turns out, paired beautifully with the fruit and leather of a Domaine Leon Barral Faugères. 

Revelers at New York Central

Revelers at New York Central

Slowly mingling our way from table to table (who wouldn’t stop and chat with Elizabeth Falkner, Sanghoon Degeimbre, or Pichet Ong?), we found Ragano’s second offering—a pistachio and mint-crusted Australian lamb that made fast friends with the rich complexity of Prieuré de Saint-Jean-de-Bébian Coteaux du Languedoc. And we took our newly piqued appetite for game to Chef Lomonaco’s table, where spit-roasted Cervena venison chops with mushrooms and blackberries had us dreaming of a feast on the forest floor. (Woodsy notes on the lush berry backdrop of a Vineyard 7&8’s “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon sealed the daydream deal.)

Anticipating more than a few bloated bellies at his table, Iacopo Falai went the wise man’s route, packing a ton of 72 percent Cacao Barry chocolate flavor into small, poppable, explosively smooth bonbons—a bite that paired as well with neat Highland Park as it did with the fig, smoke, and citrus of “The 10-51” cocktail, an Autumnal creation by none other than Marcus Samuelsson, who was dapper as ever.

Anyone who hadn’t gotten their fill of Highland Park got a second chance when tag team Antoinette Bruno and Will Blunt rallied the crowd for their Rising Stars toast. With so much conviviality (and so many cocktails) going around, it was hard to quiet the room. Fortunately, Chef Boulud stepped in, lending his voice to the cause of quiet before Bruno and Blunt took over, congratulating the 2011 New York Rising Stars with a toast led by boisterous HP front man Martin Daraz. Next came the 2011 Innovator Awards, honoring three chefs who’ve made a standard-setting impact in the industry. This year’s honorees included Community Chef and sustainability prophet (not to mention 2006 DC Rising Star) Barton Seaver, Mentor Chef Paul Kahan, and Boulud himself, who took home the award for Contribution to American Cuisine.

Innovator Award Winners Daniel Boulud, Paul Kahan, and Barton Seaver

Innovator Award Winners Daniel Boulud, Paul Kahan, and Barton Seaver

Official business out of the way, the crowd resumed its partying in earnest, some of which leaned toward the professional, most of which was clearly recreational, as when Rising Stars Damon Boelte, Leo Robitschek, and Joe Campanale attempted a three way high five. (They failed.) Visitors to New York found each other despite the acrobatics. Fellow Windy City-ites Dirk Flanigan and ICC presenter Bill Kim shared a few Kodak moments. And we can only assume ICC Presenter Todd Maul and 2009 Rising Star (and fellow Beantown-er) Gabriel Bremer were commiserating over the early playoff demise of Red Sox Nation.

In the midst of it all, we caught up with the maestro of cocktail showmanship himself, Albert Trummer, chatted with Seth Siegel-Gardener about his Pilot Light Restaurant Group, fostered a potential dinner date between Andoni and Oringer, and—somehow—learned the location of ICC Presenter Philip Speer’s tattoo (an homage to lamented Wu Tang Clan-er, Old Dirty Bastard). With that image in our minds, and a lot of incredible stuff in our stomachs, we finally made our way to bed.