The festival will be held, as always, at Crystal Springs Resort in Hardyston, home of Restaurant Latour, one of New Jersey Monthly’s Top 25 restaurants of 2013.
The 7 pm Krug toast to Bouley is sold out, as is the five-course dinner that Bouley will prepare just after, with wine pairings from featured winemaker Axel Heinz of Tuscany’s Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia.
But tickets are still available to Friday’s five-course, all-star dinner featuring chef/owner Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philadelphia; Top Chef finalist Shirley Chung, who has worked for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy, Jose Andres and Mario Batali; chef/owner Galen Zamarra of NYC’s Mas restaurants; and Ghaya Oliveira, executive pastry chef of Daniel Boulud’s Daniel in NYC. An exceptional boutique wine will be paired with each course. Tickets are $225, tax and service included.
Saturday at noon, the Battle of the New Jersey Sous Chefs will pit six of NJ’s best "under" chefs–the ones who really run the kitchens–against each other in a grand tasting.
Participants can join the three judges--Bouley, Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro and New Jersey Monthly’s own dining maven, senior editor Eric Levin–in sampling dishes from sous chefs Ricardo Franco (Chakra, Paramus), Kenny West (Pig & Prince, Montclair), Tim Monday (Giovanni’s Bistro, Berkeley Heights), Juan Pablo Guarda (Morris Tap & Grill, Randolph), Dean Orr (Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Keyport) and Max Mraz (Crystal Springs Resort). Wines will be provided by Sonoma’s Decoy Vineyards. Tickets are $45.
For the sous chefs, “this is an opportunity to explore,” says Robby Younes, the resort’s wine director, vice president of hospitality and founder of the festival.
Once a week, the sous chefs of Crystal Springs’s Restaurant Latour are asked to create a special dish. The executive chef and chef de cuisine taste, critique and choose a weekly winner. The exercise helps the sous “see who they are,” says Younes. From that weekly ritual sprang the idea for the Battle of the New Jersey Sous Chefs.
"I’m eager to see what they come up with,” Younes says.
Contestant Dean Orr is deciding between lamb belly and foie gras to anchor his entry. He is permitted to do some prep ahead of time, but the dish must be finished in front of the audience. Orr has just returned from participating in South Carolina’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival, so he’s “excited about the opportunity,” he says.
Other events include Younes’ own workshop, Secrets of the Crystal Springs Wine Cellar ($150), a tasting from the award-winning 135,000-bottle collection, including some oldies and rarities; a craft cocktail seminar; a bourbon tasting from distiller Wes Henderson; and a demonstration of how to make wild boar ragu from Vic Rallo, host of PBS’ Eat! Drink! Italy!
The Grand Tasting ($125) on Saturday night includes dancing to a 32-piece orchestra, more than 100 wines from over 30 wineries and food from 25 top restaurants in New York City and New Jersey, including…
Ninety Acres, Maritime Parc, CulinAriane, Fascino, Agricola, The Orange Squirrel, Boulevard Five 72, Escape, the Frog and The Peach, Axia Taverna, Morris Tap & Grill, Blue Morel, Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern, Pig and Prince, Giovanni’s Bistro, Lunello, the Artist Baker, Crystal Tavern and The Café & Wine Bar.
As if that’s not enough, there will be a lavish, late night Fire and Ice after-party ($140), with all the chefs and winemakers, and a Sunday Champagne Brunch ($60) to cap things off in style.
For more info and to buy tickets, click HERE.
SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.
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