Monday, September 17, 2012

WGBH Artisan Tasting Part 1: Chef Demos

           I recently attended the WGBH food and wine festival, which included booths for many different wineries and restaurants as well as cooking demonstrations by local celebrity chefs. I had an amazing time, sampling a ton of great food and wine and watching demonstrations by local celebrity chefs. Since there was so much going on, I’ve decided to cover the event in two parts starting with the cooking demonstrations. I attended the second session of the day from 5-8pm.

          The first demo of the evening was by Chef Rich Garcia of 606 Congress, who prepared a trash fish minestrone. Prior to this demo, I'd never heard of trash fish, but I learned that the term is used to describe species of fish not traditionally used or caught commercially. The types of fish vary by region, and when restaurants include them on their menu, it helps sustainability, supports local fisherman, and gives their guests a chance to try something new.

          Although I hadn't heard the term trash fish before, I do prefer restaurants that use local seasonal ingredients and support local fisherman and farmers. I was surprised to find that several of the types of trash fish Chef Garcia provided as examples were fish I eat regularly and consider common such as striped bass, blue fish, red fish, mackerel and jonah crab.

          Chef Garcia used a couple of types of fish in his Minestrone including Maine Pollock and red fish. He also added pancetta and several types of vegetables (including tomatoes, kale, and squash) to the base of lobster stock, and finished the dish with Parmesan foam. The result was a delicious soup, which went quickly although I was lucky enough to grab a sample! For the complete recipe, visit WGBH.

          The second demonstration was by Andy Husbands, Chef / Owner of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel. Chef Husbands is also a member of the award winning BBQ team IqueBBQ, and just published his second cookbook Wicked Good BBQ.

          Chef Husband’s demo naturally featured BBQ, and I learned that a really good sauce can be as simple as ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, with a few ingredients like brown sugar, hot sauce, or apple cider vinegar to dress it up. The cooking demonstration was for ribs, but due to time constraints we sampled BBQ chicken he’d prepared in advance, it was slightly spicy and incredibly tender and flavorful.

       The third and final demonstration of the evening was Chef Brooke Vosika of the Bristol Lounge. He prepared a crab bisque, which was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The base of the soup was a mix of light and heavy cream, and he added in gin which gave it a juniper flavor and paired perfectly with the seafood. Chef Vosika explained that the same basic recipe can be adapted by changing the stock to match the key component (chicken, mushroom, corn vegetable, etc) and prepared gluten free by omitting flour.

         All of the demos were both informative and entertaining. I learned some interesting facts about cooking and sustainable food, added three new restaurants to my list to try, and got to sample some delicious dishes! I definitely hope to attend next time, and look forward to finding out who next year's featured chefs will be!

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