Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Does One Serve to a Group of Wonderful Chefs?

I was pleased to be invited by the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia (better known as RANS)to serve on the panel of judges with the difficult task of deciding winners for five different categories, to be presented at this year's AGM & Awards Dinner.

There was a huge turnout, with association members catching up with each other, participating in a very interesting presentation and doing the voting thing found at all Annual General Meetings. Truth is, it was my first time attending and it was much more interesting than many an AGM I've been to in the corporate world.

But while others were focusing on the business of running a restaurant, I was wondering what one would serve to such a distinguished guest list and how intimidated I would be having to come up with a menu for people who really know their food and how to serve it up.

Executive Chef at the Westin Nova Scotian is Raj Gupta, and he and his team did a wonderful job, even before the dinner started. The reception had a Nova Scotian theme with hors d'ouevres and wines from local sources. One of the hors d'ouevres was the Panini Toscano that was the win for Chef Michael Howell, Executive Chef & owner of The Tempest, one of my favorite NS restaurants and well worth the drive to Wolfville from Halifax, but I digress. The panini took first place at the Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cookoff at the CNE this summer. A perfect choice, given that Chef Michael is the incoming RANS President.

Before sharing the winners with you... it's back to my question... What does one serve a room full of restauranteurs and industry suppliers? Another digression... think of it as snacking on hor d'ouevres... I had the pleasure of sitting with the folks from
Steak 'n Stein - a great family friendly restaurant (and one of the few places I'd dare to take my two little heathen grandsons); Cafe Chianti (one of my favorite Grown Up restaurants); Janes on the Commons (another personal favorite - especially for weekend brunch) and Jeff from Coca Cola, a huge sponsor of RANS.

The menu for the evening was lovely... I shouldn't have expected less. The photos on the other hand, (my own attempt at styling - less successful, but I think you get the point).

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup en Croute
Duet of Peppercorn Sirloin and Chicken stuffed with Prosciutto and Asiago finished with Bourbon sauce served with maple glazed root vegetables and oven roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Dessert, a superb Chocolate Molten Lava cake with Ganache Starbucks Coffee and Tea.

But the real reason I was invited... the second annual awards which were given to...
Best Small Restaurant: out of 50 nominees...
Charlotte Lane in Shelbourne - and definitely worth the 2 hour drive from Halifax. It will be our first road trip next May!

Best Large Restaurant: out of 46 nominees... Trendz Cafe & Wine Bar in Burnside.

Best Wine & Beverage menu: out of 24 nominees... The Five Fishermen in downtown Halifax.

Best Green restaurant: out of 13 nominees... The Wooden Monkey in downtown Halifax.

Best Design & D├ęcor: out of 27 nominees... Pipa Restaurant & Bar in downtown Halifax.

Congratulations to all the winners and runners up... and to Chef Gupta and his team for a delicious dinner.

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