The Sustainable Food Center hosted their 5th biannual Chef Series dinner at La Condesa Sunday night, and it was such a treat! I have been dying to go to this series, but my calendar never cooperated in the past. As Justin and I we’re wrapping up our afternoon of East Austin Studio Tour stops, Chelsea Staires called trying to unload her tickets. Chelsea and her husband Jerry were driving in from Houston and weren’t going to be able to make it. We did have dinner plans, we were JUST walk out of Live Oak BBQ for a meaty snack, but how could we pass this up? It was 5:20 PM, cocktails started at 5:30, and seating for dinner was at 6:00 PM. We raced home, made a fifteen minute attempt at looking presentable, and walked in to La Condesa with two minutes to spare.
The Sustainable Food Center is one of my favorite nonprofits in Austin. They empower people to make healthy food choices and promote participation in the local food system through the local farmer’s markets, and programs like The Happy Kitchen and Sprouting Healthy Kids. Their Chef Series is an incredible event that showcases the area’s most talented chefs, creating dishes from locally sourced ingredients. As a foodie, an event with chefs of this caliber, one with a James Beard award, is a must attend.
It’s always a gamble when you go to a dinner where you will be seated across from strangers. Will they like you? Will you like them? Is that five hours going to be awkward? Yes, you read that right. Five hours. We were whisked away to a four top where a couple already sat waiting. Maddie and Webb, foodie fanatics from San Antonio shook our hands and immediately, I was relieved. Webb talked Justin in to adding bee keeping to his list of ridiculous hobbies, Maddie just passed the bar and was specializing in oil and gas law, Justin just worked on an oil lease for the ranch, Webb’s family are long time cattle ranchers, I used to work in commercial real estate, Webb is a commercial broker in San Antonio, both boys are dabbling in making their own beer, wine, and whiskey, we were all in Colorado at the same time seven weeks ago, and both couples were a house divided – the boys were Aggies and the girls were Longhorns. We really enjoyed their company and wished that they lived in town! We oohed and ashed over the menu and ate and sipped every bite.
On the menu
Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
persimmon salad, marinated seaweed, pine nut butter, chili
aperol & soda
Tyson Cole, Uchi and Uchiko
cobia, nutmeg, salsify, borage, G&S Groves orange
Real Ale Lost Gold IPA
Rene Ortiz, La Condesa
Broken Arrow Ranch venison liver, fuyu black pepper jam, Pure Luck Farm feta, Wowstard bacon
butter, Rain Lily Farm radish, Bluebonnet Farm baby cilantro
Leprechaun Cider Shandy, golden raisin – black pepper bitters, apple
Jason Donoho & Andrew MacArthur, Fino & Asti
Texas Quail Farms quail, Jenschke Farms butternut squash, Winfield Farm rainbow chard,
Round Rock honey, Texas goat cheese
Balcones Baby Blue whiskey, Real Ale Pale Moon Rye, Earl Gray tea, Round Rock honey, lemon
Andrew Weissman, Il Sogno Osteria
braised bacon, coddled egg, crispy potatos, coffee emulsion
Garrison Brothers Distillery bourbon
James Holmes & Andrew Francisco, Olivia
duck consomme, Pure Luck Farm goat cheese truffle, garden vegetables, crispy smoked water
Morgues de Gres, Rose
Monica Glenn, Uchi Houston
maple panna cotta, Lightsey Farms persimmon, applewood gastrique, pistachio sorbet
Buffalo Trace’s Texas Bartenders tasting bourbon Manhattan
Overall, the meal was fanstastic! Dishes were perfectly timed, drinks always came first, and our dinner companions really made the meal. Our table loved the aperol aperitif, thought Tyson Cole’s sous vide cobia was perfectly cooked, gobbled up Jason Donoho’s amazingly succulent quail, lapped up Andrew MacArthur’s whiskey concoction, debated what makes an egg coddled, cracked smoked water in to the duck consomme, and loved the savory pistachio dessert by soon to be open Uchi Houston’s Monica Glenn. We were also incredibly impressed by how delicious each drink was, especially when they’re being made for a hundred people. The only thing that didn’t go over as well was the venison liver. It tasted good, but it was the texture that we couldn’t get passed. Probably because it was raw.
For anyone that has ever debated going to the Chef Series, I would highly recommend it! I loved the anticipation of each course, not knowing what to expect, but confident that we were in capable hands. The five hours flew by and left me with names of farms that I will be looking up this weekend.
December is an amazing month for food. Eat Local Week benefiting SFC and Urban Roots starts Saturday, December 3rd. I encourage you to check out the eight events that are happening that week, discover the joys of being a locavore, and participate in our local food system. Oh, and for those that have never had Waco born Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey, grab a bottle at Spec’s. It’s good stuff. Thank you Chelsea and Jerry Sun for the great evening. We owe you two an out of this world dinner.
*** Pardon the grainy photos, low light is a bitch.