There's only a few chefs in town that have the power to corral more than 40 chefs and vendors to support a single cause. Unsurprisingly, Iron Chef Jose Garces is one such force. And what better cause for these chefs to support than the health and education of the local immigrant community.
The GF and I are were lucky enough to have been invited to this year's Think Local, Give Local Benefit, presented by the Garces Foundation at the Loews Hotel. Tastings from the city's most accomplished chefs were on offer, along with local entertainment, live, and silent auctions. 6ABC's Alicia Vitarelli and Billy Harris were the emcees for the event.
There were plenty of sponsors, including Tito's Vodka and local Bluecoat Gin. Tito's had a cocktail that was actually on feature at the Garces Wedding Showcase - Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down. Mixed with rosemary simple syrup and lime, it made for an easily quaffable vodka cocktail. I've always enjoyed Bank and Bourbon's Secret Knock, which features whiskey, green tea, lemon, and clarified milk. Light and refreshing, it's no surprise I came back for more. But on to the food!
Note: All dishes are described clockwise, starting from the top right.
Morimoto - Cured Hamachi, Pumpernickel, Gin Creme Fraiche
Abe Fisher - Smoked Whitefish Salad, Buttermilk Ranch Potato Chip, Pickled Cucumber
Vernick Food & Drink - Salmon Poke
Double Knot - Albacore, Scallion, Onion Ponzu, Radish
Zeppoli - Sicilian Octopus & Calamari Salad
Ela - Root Vegetable Scone, Smoked Bone Marrow Butter
Kanella - Pork Stew Dolmades
Distrito PHL - Ceviche, Charred Jalapeno Oil, Pepitas, Citrus
Laurel - Kobe Beef Tartare, Bresola, Beef Salt, Pickles
Friday Saturday Sunday - Beef Tartare, Smoked Bone Marrow Cream
Blackfish - Chicken Liver Parfait, Malted Parsnip, Sherry Vinegar, Caraway
Bistrot la Minette - Foie Gras Mousse
Alla Spina - Octopus Ragu, Straciatella, Brioche
Dim Sum Garden - Vegetarian & Pork Dumplings, Pork Bun, Scallion Pancake
Fork - Green Garlic Gnocchi, Roasted Mushrooms, Chicken Ragu
Lacroix - Celery Root Potsticker, Country Ham, Scallion
In the midst of all the tasting, there was plenty of entertainment as well. Live band American Deluxe kicked off the night with some tunes. Flamenco group De Luna a Lunares were center stage and sparked some excitement. Denise Fike was providing gorgeous fashion illustrations of the guests. Silent auction tables were littered with plenty of exciting packages, including dinner at many of the chef's restaurants. The highlights from the live auction included a Norwegian cruise for 2, a one week stay in Costa Rica, and a private dinner for 10 at Chef Garces' Luna Farm, hosted by the Iron Chef himself! The latter turned into two dinners for 10 - at a winning bid of $8,000 each! That's including access to the farm's hot tub!
After the dizzying show of monetary support for the Foundation's cause, what better way to enjoy the rest of the evening than by continuing with the tastings!
Buena Onda - Smoked Tuna, Malanga Chip
Distrito Moorestown - Guacamole, Roasted Jalapeno, Cotija
Buena Onda - Esquites
The Farm and the Fisherman - Scarlet Bean Pozole
Townsend - Whole Roasted Suckling Pig, Sherry Gastrique
Kensington Quarters - Maple Cured Ham, Pumpernickel, Root Vegetable Slaw, Mustard
Tinto - Iberico Bellota Montadito, Iberico Lardo, Padron Pepper Escabeche, Bellota Jam, Idiazabal
Village Whiskey - Smoked BBQ Pork Slider, Coleslaw, Pickle Chips
Sbraga - "Cubano" Country Ham, Pickle, Pickled Onion, Mustard, Ciccharon
It wasn't all a porcine pleasure paradise. There were plenty of vegetarian and vegan options as well. And who better to represent that segment of the culinary population than Vedge's husband-wife duo of Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, clearly engaging the crowd and enjoying themselves as well.
Will BYOB - Arugula Vichyssoise
Garces Trading Company - Spiced Smoked Carrots
Vedge - Spicy Greek Briam Stew
Bank and Bourbon - Salt Roasted Celery Root, Truffle Cheese
Whetstone Tavern / Brauhaus Schmitz - Marinated Beets, Sherry Vinaigrette, Feta, Quinoa, Pumpkin Seeds, Zatar
JG Domestic - Carrot Pastrami
Honey Lavender Ice Cream Sandwich - Local Wildflower Lavender Honey, Shortbread
Butterscotch Brown-Butter Sage - Butterscotch Custard, Heritage Sage Streusel
Dessert came in the form of Weckerly's Ice Cream, which was stationed along with Baba's Kombucha Brew, Subarashii Kudamono Gourmet Asian Pears, and Gilda's Biscotti.
All in all, if you're at all culinary-inclined, I'd keep the Garces Foundation Benefit on your radar. You're supporting the local community and getting a taste of what this great city's brightest chefs have to offer.
Special thanks to Corie from Gloss PR and the Garces Foundation for the invite!