Please note: This is a lengthy post but I did want to share all the details of this lovely evening & meal.
Several weeks ago, we had the “most exclusive dinner reservation in town” … we hosted another Chef’s Dinner in Our Home.
Earlier in the year, my husband and I attended a charity fundraiser held at our local Jasper’s Restaurant. We also attended last year and “won” the fabulous live auction item, “Dinner for 8 Prepared by Chef Kent Rathbun in Your Home”. I had every intention to win this auction item again this year.
You can read my post about last year’s dinner here.
This year the live auction item was “Dinner for 10 Prepared by Chef Kent Rathbun with Wine Pairings“. Initially, I was utterly outbid on the auction item at the fundraiser, but Jaspers Restaurant was very generous and quickly offered up a second Chef’s Dinner after how much the first dinner went for. I had to “raise my paddle a lot” against the other bidders, but ultimately I won the second Chef’s Dinner!
And once again our donation was well worth it – the Chef Kent Dinner Prepared in Our Home was Outstanding!
BRIEF BACKGROUND on CHEF KENT RATHBUN
In case you’re not familiar with Chef Kent Rathbun, here is a little info about him. Rathbun realized his passion for cooking at the young age of nine. He is a “self-taught chef” (he learned by working long hours in restaurant kitchens vs. graduating from a culinary school). It was while Rathbun was working as an apprentice in a Kansas City five-star restaurant that he learned to work with high-end ingredients and appreciate the art of perfect preparation.
In 1999, Rathbun followed his dream and opened his first five-star restaurant, Abacus. After Abacus exceeded Rathbun’s expectations, he went on to open his Jaspers concept restaurants ( “Gourmet Backyard Cuisine”), and in 2015, Rathbun opened another restaurant, Hickory, a barbecue and burger concept.
Chef Rathbun has appeared on various TV shows including Food Network’s hit show, “Iron Chef”.
(Source: Kent Rathbun Concepts)
GETTING MY HOME READY …
Just like last year, we hosted the dinner in our kitchen. Being a gourmand, I wanted the whole dinner experience (cooking, serving…) to be interactive with the chefs and staff.
I kept the tablescape simple. I wanted the focus to be on the food.
Jaspers would be supplying the plates so I only needed to provide silverware, water, and wine glasses.
I used round (vs. rectangle-shaped) placemats due to the limited space at the table. I decided not to use chargers because I figured Jaspers would be serving the dinner courses on plates of different shapes (so delightful!).
Unfortunately, one of our guest’s mother had passed away earlier that week. He was not able to come to the dinner because her services were out-of-state. So our guest number for the evening was down to nine.
To avoid cluttering up the table, I only set the table with silverware for our First and Second Courses. I find it charming to have mismatched/mixed up silverware.
I love using my silver platter…
All set up for our First Wine (Pairing) and the Passed Appetizers…
This year I worked with Jaspers Restaurant Catering Manager, Yvette Openshaw. Yvette had emailed me a copy of the menu the week before. I framed one copy of it and displayed it on my countertop.
I put a second framed copy on the dinner table.
About 90 minutes before our guests were due to arrive, Chef Kent and his Jaspers staff arrived. Chef Kent’s staff to assist him for the evening were Yvette, Chef Scott Neuman (Jaspers Chef de Cuisine), and Mary (Jaspers server).
Besides the food, they arrived with sharpened knives, bowls, pots ‘n pans, plates, and other kitchen prep tools…
Various plates and bowls for serving all our dinner courses …
Pots ‘n pans ready for cooking…
CHEFS’ PREP FOR DINNER
Yvette put our First Wine Pairing, JCB No. 6 Pinot Noir Rose, on ice to await our guests…
Beautiful heirloom tomatoes for our First Course …
Juicy peaches also for our First Course …
Prepping for the salad course…
Chef Kent chats with us before our guests arrive …
GUESTS ARRIVAL – THE PASSED APPETIZERS
Let the Food Adventure Begin…
Crab & Avocado Salad Nachos!!
The nachos had micro cilantro on them. If you didn’t know, micro cilantro is harvested at their early seedling stage.
Shrimp & Cucumber Ceviche Served in Wonton Spoons
A little tip: The wonton spoons were just plastic (sold in bulk) – great for entertaining
Both appetizers were so yummy! The fresh, vibrant flavors of each of them really woke up my taste buds. I couldn’t wait for the next course…
FIRST COURSE PREP
Meticulously adding each ingredient to the salad plate line…
Adding final touches to our salads…Notice how taking the extra step of adding feathery fennel fronds to the plates makes the presentation so much prettier.
One of the last items (besides basil) that were added to our caprese salads was Black Falksalt. Black Falksalt Crystal Flakes are a naturally tinted sea salt (from Mediterranean Sea water) that just adds color and a salt taste to food. It tastes like white crystal salt and resembles pepper. Black Falksalt is relatively inexpensive and even sold on Amazon. Falksalt also sells other varieties such as wild garlic, wild mushroom, and citron.
Dinner is Served…
OUR FIRST COURSE
Our wine pairing – 2012 Provenance Sauvignon Blanc
I’m not usually a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc wines (many are too fruity or sweet for me), but this one was good – crisp and light
Heirloom Tomato & Caramelized Peach Caprese Salad
How gorgeous is this salad?!!
Notice how the salad completely fills the (smaller-sized) rectangular plate.
Chef Kent describes the salad we are about to eat…
I love caprese salad, but adding caramelized peaches to the salad really made it extraordinary, and the addition of the black Falksalt gave the salad an extra beautiful contrast of colors.
OUR SECOND COURSE
Sautéing the scallops…
The Art of Styling the Line of Plates…
It’s a Beautiful Thing to Watch Like a Ballet
Plating the truffle butter sauce (anything with truffle – yes, please)
This course was served in bowls.
Chef Scott continues with the sauce, while Chef Kent starts plating the risotto
Next came the scallops…
Adding the fennel…
Note the towel by Chef – the chefs wiped any drips on the bowls to keep the dishes looking aesthetically pleasing
Final steps to the plating of this course…
Chef Kent tells us about our scallop course. While he was doing that, our “missing guest” called and Face Timed with Chef Kent and the rest of us.
Scallops with Sweet Corn Risotto & Fennel with Truffle Butter Sauce
They say we “eat with our eyes first”. Well, it certainly worked for this dish. It looked so mouth-watering!
The scallops were succulent, and combined with the truffle butter sauce, along with the texture of the risotto made this dish scrumptious. The addition of the fennel in this dish made this dish even more special.
In case you don’t know, raw fennel is crisp and has a mild licorice/anise flavor. However, when you cook fennel it has a smooth, almost sweet taste.
OUR SECOND COURSE
The K C Strips
Mary sets out steak knives for this course.
Chef Scott bastes the steaks before heating them on the stove. The steaks had been partially pre-cooked earlier at Jaspers on the grill with hickory chips.
Square plates were used for this course.
Chef Scott braises the greens…
Chef Scott plates the Jarlsberg fondue (cheese sauce) and braised greens…
Final step – adding the KC strip steaks to the plates…
Our wine pairing to go with the steak – Stags’ Leap 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
K C Strip with Jarlsberg Fondue & Braised Greens
I’m not much of a red-meat eater, and if I am going to eat a steak I would rarely ever put a sauce with it…
But even with the first bite of this KC strip combined with the hickory flavor and Jarlsberg cheese sauce (fondue), OMGosh, the flavors exploded in my mouth! This dish was unbelievably de-li-cious!!
I also loved the simplicity of pairing it with the braised greens (rainbow chard).
All gone…worth every calorie
I definitely will be trying to copy this recipe in the future sometime (Gourmet maybe??)
Maple-Glazed Pound Cake with Nectarine Ice Cream & Bourbon Caramel
Chef Scott describes our dessert.
Honestly, I was skeptical if I would really like this dessert (pound cake and bourbon-in-desserts aren’t my favorites). However, once again that evening, the chefs made a ‘believer’ out of me.
The dessert was divine.
A toast to Jaspers…
Chef Kent relaxes with a glass of wine with us…“To Chef Kent”
“The Fab Four”:
Chef Scott Neuman, Mary, Yvette Openshaw, and Chef Kent Rathbun
Cheers to them
FINAL COMMENT ON THE EVENING
Another Unforgettable “Chef’s Dinner” from Jaspers! All of us thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the evening they provided for us – the food, the wine, their warm personalities, their service, and their attention to detail. Unforgettable…
One of my roses got a little toasted from the flame of the votive.
FUNDRAISING TIP ABOUT A CHEF’S DINNER FOR AN AUCTION ITEM
In my opinion, having an auction item such as a chef’s dinner prepared in a home is priceless. Maybe your organization isn’t able to secure a well-known chef like Kent Rathbun, then consider asking a restaurant you frequent about the possibility of their executive chef or chef de cuisine preparing a dinner for a donated item. Even having a sous chef cook a dinner in a home is terrific – after all, many sous chefs are executive chefs on the rise.
Ask a bakery: Spending a couple of hours baking in a bakery would be considered priceless by many people and they would jump at such an opportunity – to learn how to bake bread, make a specialty cake or other dessert.