Monday, February 26, 2007

Gala festival of gourmet gluttony

My Sunday was nuts.

The Colorado Springs Chorale Chefs’ Gala, my favorite foodie event of the year, was on Oscar night!

I nibbled on scallops and elk, then sprinted down the hallway to the hotel bar to see who won for best screenplay.

I'll give you my hurried take on the gala.. but first, here's the report from our food editor, Teresa Farney, who also was a judge in the competition....

The Rocky Mountain Ballroom at the Broadmoor West was filled with the aroma of truffle oil, foie gras and seared scallops, Sunday evening as chefs and caterers whipped up some of their best dishes for The Colorado Springs Chorale Chefs’ Gala.

Here’s a look at the chefs who took first places in three categories. They each received $500. One prize of $500 was given for Best of Show.

Appetizers: Shad Shelton of the Garden of the Gods Club for his Seared Scallop with Truffled Sweet Potato, Foie Gras, and Date-Port Butter.

Entrees: Alan Sirull of the Antlers Grill in the Antlers Hilton for his Barolo Braised Beef Short Ribs with Foie Gras, Fig-scented Farro with Pearl Onions Agrodolce.

Desserts: Jeremy Garcia of The Cliff House at Pikes Peak for his Kashmir Fantasy with Florentinas: Almond Dacquoise, Spiced White Chocolate Mousse, Green Tea Gelee, with Florentina Cone.

Best of Show: Alan Sirull
People’s Choice: Michael Benton and Brother Luck of the Cheyene Mountain Resort for their Elk Tenderloin with Spicy Chocolate Sauce with Raspberry Goat Cheese Strudel, Whipped Vanilla Celeriac, and Candied Pecans.
Remaining winners:

Second place - Barry Dunlap of Garden of the Gods Gourmet for his Smoked Quail with Poached Pears.
Third place - Eric Viedt of The Margarita at PineCreek for his Smoked Beef Carpaccio “Sushi” style with house-cured Kim Chee.

Second place - Matt Richardson of the Cheyenne Mountain Country Club for his Braised Veal Cheeks with Stone-ground Mustard Demi-Glace, Herbed Polenta Cake, Braised Carrots, Tomato Confit, Chevre Crumbles and Micro Green Blend.
Third place - Scott Savage and Doug Blazavich of The Cliff House at Pikes Peak for their New Zealand Venison Chop: Lingonberry and Juniper Berry Glazed Venison, Acorn Squash Bread Pudding, Cipolini Onion, with Cassis Jus.

Second place - Jamal Davis of The Metropolitain for his Chocolate Torte with a Red Tea Mousse and Blood Orange Syrup.
Third place — Stephanie Sloan of Divine Table Catering & Cakes for her Taste of the Tropics Carrot Cake with Passion Fruit Ginger Sorbet and Cheese Cake.

Thank, you, Teresa....

I gotta say, even though I was distracted and frenzied, there was some fine eatin'. I loved those seared scallops from
the Garden of the Gods Club and the moist carrot cake from Divine Table, but my favorite of the night was a dessert from The Broadmoor's Lake Terrace dining room: Peanut Butter and Toast.

It was actually a square of something like a cross between fudge and ice cream, beside a small oval of French toast, topped with ice cream. I'd never had anything like that outside of a dream.

One of the things I love about the Chef's Gala is that not only does it attract most of the usual suspects -- The Margarita, The Cliff House, Blue Vervaine -- it also brings out some great restaurants that fall outsdie of the Fine Dining realm.

This year, I was delighted to see English Dockside, a casual place on North Academy that's won our Best of the Springs award for Best Seafood for a few years. Mr. English's southern-style crab cakes were a big hit.


One of the things I've always liked about this event is that it's been relatively easy to get the food. Lines form behind each booth, so wait for what you want and you won't wait long.

But this year, a bunch of nuckleheads formed a giant line on one side of the tables and tried to make it into a giant very slow-moving conga line ... Bad idea. Some chefs were sitting there with two dozen filled plates for the taking, while others were working as fast they could to keep up with the line. Then some other chuckleheads took up positions at the other side of the tables and started a competing conga line there.

I left to catch the rest of the Oscars, so I never found out what happened when the two competing lines crashed in the middle, but I'm sure it wasn't pretty.

Seems they need one of the organizers as crowd control to teach the people how to wait in line.


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