Monday, September 24, 2012 at 12:21 p.m.
Sarah Master and Brian Hauke of Barbette and Red Stag teamed for braised shortribs
The event room was packed at Solera last night as some of the area's top chefs worked together to create a seven-course meal for ticket holders. Solera's chef Jorge Guzman worked with some of his local farm purveyors and chef friends, on what should have been most of their nights off, to put on the dazzling dinner. Tickets sold out for the event, which benefited the Youth Farm and Market Project, which teaches urban farming to city kids, They grow and sell their own produce and learn a number of invaluable lessons along the way.
Mike Phillips of Three Sons Meats makes salumi like no one else
The evening began with a sample of charcuterie from meat maestro Mike Phillips. The beautifully cured meat was as wonderful as can be expected; the man's reputation for making the best is not overstated. Guests were happily surprised with how tangy, crunchy, and sweet his sauerkraut was, a perfect foil for cutting through the fatty flavors of the meats.
The second course was local, heirloom, chilled tomato soup with an herbaceous sunflower seed and basil pistou with a tempura battered squash blossom floating at the top. The dish was from the St. Paul chef power team of Lenny Russo from Heartland Restaurant and Farm Market Direct and Wyatt Evans of W.A. Frost.
Not your average herring preparation
Next came herring from Grand Marias prepared by Jorge Guzman of Solera with Fernando Silvo and Dustin Thompson of Harriet Brasserie. It was served atop a smoky skyr, a yogurt-like cheese, and dotted with little potato chips atop a layer of charred beets.
Sturgeon and foie gras terrine wowed the crowd
Landon Shoenefeld of Haute Dish teamed with Steven Brown of Tilia to create a terrine of sturgeon and foie gras, a complex layering of flavors that astounded guests like Sue Zelickson. The flavors weren't unfamiliar, but still it was like nothing we had ever experienced before: soft, creamy, and meaty. The tiny caviar-looking bubbles on the plate were actually an apple cider aged like a balsamic vinegar, which the chefs then manipulated through chemistry into these little flavor bombs that exploded in the mouth.
The fifth course was a rabbit saddle stuffed with sausage as prepared by Matt Paulson of the Sample Room and Jack Riebel of Butcher and the Boar. A deeply savory dish, it was a tasting of comfort food, even for those unfamiliar with dining on hare.
The sixth course was slow-cooked elegance from Sarah Master of Barbette and Brian Hauke of Red Stag. They served short ribs and braised turnips and rainbow radishes.
Chocolate marscapone mousse from Solera's pastry chef
The night ended with a playful plate from Joanna Biessener of Solera. The cake looked like a take on the dirt the local farmers use to coax all of the incredible ingredients that went into the evening's dinner.
The real treat was watching all these chefs work together. As each course was plated, the chefs came together over a long, silver table in the front of the room, each one taking care that every dish served was stunning.