Desert to Dish: Master Culinary Classes
Master Culinary Classes took place on the afternoon of day three of the culinary event Desert to Dish held at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at the Montelucia. Four acclaimed chefs from Chicago, Denver, Dallas, and San Diego led the culinary demonstrations and Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer hosted the wine seminar. Each chef would demo a dish that would be served that night at the Sonoran Showdown.
Chef Joey Beato of Community Tavern and The Portage is a staunch supporter of the local farms in Chicago and was likewise impressed with our local bounty on his Arizona Farm Excursion the day before. As he plated the juicy pork shoulder steak with peach mostarda puree, caramelized brussels sprouts, habanero jus and cilantro microgreens, he explained that he used butter he had made from Danzeisen Dairy milk.
Denver Chef Brandon Foster of Vesta Dipping Grill and sous chef John Wallace spoke of sourcing local products such as mushrooms from Hunt & Gather in Colorado, as he sauteed lobster and chanterelle mushrooms with shallots and garlic to serve over buttery brioche with Hope Springs Farm arugula, saba, and shaved Pecorino Romano.
Dallas Chef Brian Luscher of The Grape Restaurant and Luscher's Red Hots gave us tips on making roux ("before adding liquid, it should be the consistency of wet sand") and sauteeing mushrooms ("use a wide pan, lively heat, and don't overcrowd") as he made a savory strudel with Blue Foot, shiitake, and button mushrooms with goat cheese.
Chef Joey Magnanelli of CUCINA Urbana and chef Rosa of Cucina Enoteca Del Mar led class three, featuring one of their best-selling dishes - octopus. He explained how it is first simmered in a court bouillon seasoned with onion, chile, herbs and citrus for over an hour before finishing with a grill or quick fry.
Plated: Octopus with pureed ceci beans (chickpeas/garbanzos), dried-tomato vinaigrette and Yukon gold fingerling potato crisps.
Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer led the seminar Arizona vs. Chilean Wines. He explained similarities between the areas: "Both are Mediterranean-type climates, desert-type climates where irrigation is necessary for both places, and some of the best vineyards in both places are formed and born out of the ability to get water to the plants." He also noted "both have kind of a Bourdeaux background model. Chile was born out of Bordeaux in the 1800s, and Arizona was also born out of a Bordeaux model. Both places are also sorting out climate and exploring which grape varieties do best."
"I think there is a real synergy and parallel to what is going on in Arizona and what is going on in Chile. Both are making excellent wines, but neither of them claim to be all the way there. I think both of these places are trying to find their way in finding the right varietals for their climate."
For whites, we sipped on Dos Cabezas WineWorks Meskeoli blend (Sonoita, AZ) and Cono Sur Reserva Especial Chardonnay (Casablanca Valley, Chile). For reds, our wines to enjoy were Callaghan Vineyards Buena Suerte (Sonoita, AZ) and Carmen Gran Reserva by Trinchero Family Estates (Apalta, Chile). As we explored the nuances of each, Fred explained that the Chilean wines can be found throughout the Omni Resort properties as they had partnered with Wines of Chile to create a special culinary project called ¡Destinación Chile!. Representing Arizona, winemakers Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas and Kent and Lisa Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards had introduced themselves to guests the night before as they poured their wines at the Culinary Dreams Reception, and their wines are on the menu at Omni Scottsdale.
As I chatted with my classmates after the seminars, we remarked that not only were they educational, but a special part of this culinary event was getting to know these talented visitors through these classes, and the previous Welcome Reception, Farm Excursions and Culinary Dreams Reception. We were more than ready to see them compete, and had our own personal favorites to root for, in the evening's finale - the Sonoran Showdown.
Desert to Dish schedule of events (click for recap and photos):
Thursday, October 22nd: Chef's Kitchen Welcome Reception
Friday, October 23rd: Farm Excursions and Supporting Culinary Dreams Reception
Saturday, October 24th: Master Culinary Classes and Sonoran Showdown finale.
This was a complimentary media invitation.