Over the last decade, Chowgirls Killer Catering has become a culinary force to be reckoned with in the local catering world. Based in Minneapolis, the award-winning duo behind the company have steadily gained a following with their often locally and sustainably sourced dishes that are both elegant and approachable.
Last night at Aria, guests celebrated Heidi Andermack and Amy Lynn Brown's 10 years in business together as Chowgirls. The evening marked the actual anniversary of their first event catered on March 12, 2004.
There were several signature cocktails to try -- including the Julip, a bourbon-based drink with a healthy helping of orange flavors that proved to be a little too sweet for our palates. The tea and juice bar was stocked with plenty of tasty, non-alcoholic beverages -- one of the highlights included sparkling hibiscus juice. Guests could get a little pick-me-up at the much-appreciated Spyhouse Coffee stand, too.
What's a party without cheese? Boy, was there plenty to nibble on from the creamy Humboldt Fog to the nutty Marieke Gouda as well as a ridiculously melty (and tasty) Camembert. Guests could also pair a variety of Chowgirls-made spreads like cherry and raspberry marmalade and sweet onion spread.
The large selection of vegetarian "pates" showed off Chowgirls' skill with blending flavors and textures like mushrooms and roasted cauliflower. The brilliant green edamame pate was whipped into creamy lightness, topped with sesame seeds that gave the spread an extra crunch and complemented the almost-nutty edamame.
There was no shortage of passed hors d'oeuvres, a showcase of the variety Chowgirls boasts on its menu. We sampled grilled chicken satay skewers; spicy Thai red pepper shooters with coconut milk and hints of basil oil; light tuna tartare with seaweed salad on rice crackers; and rumaki -- bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and dates doused in sauce.
One of the night's standout dishes was the gnocchi, served two ways -- one with brown butter and sage and the other with a mushroom ragu. Both were presented in palm-sized bowls with just enough to whet our appetites and wish we'd grabbed several more. The gnocchi was fantastically light and soft -- the opposite of the toothy al dente potato dumplings offered at other places. Each sauce complemented the dish perfectly, adding depth of flavor without overpowering the pillowy gnocchi.
The evening ended with a toast to Andermack and Brown's hard work over the past decade, punctuated by the unveiling of the spectacular "Sparkle Cake" that guests had heard about throughout the night. Covered in soft, white frosting and Chowgirls' signature logo, the cake actually sparkled -- with glittering blue letters and stars and sparklers lit up on top.
There were two different types of cake to sample for guests -- a chocolate-based cake with pistachio frosting and a white cake with raspberry and lemon filling topped with buttercream frosting. The white cake melted almost instantly in our mouths, with just enough lemon and raspberry to sate our sweet tooth.
For the past 10 years, Chowgirls has built quite the catering empire in northeast Minneapolis. With so many loyal fans, friends, and family there to celebrate the last decade with them last night, it's clear that Chowgirls will be wrangling up tasty meals for years to come.