Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fun Playing With Food For Another Great Cause

A plethora of Cleveland's finest Chefs turned out last night to help the beloved Annie Chiu, owner and operator of Sun Luck Garden and recent quadruple bypass recipient. The restaurant has been closed since Annie took ill, and the restaurant community rallied to help her keep it by throwing a fabulous party: Takin' it to the Streets for Annie Chiu. The contributors were asked to prepare street food, which was served up at Sergio Abramof's lovely Sarava restaurant on Shaker Square.

The Abramof family took the laboring oar to bring together food, wine distributors, raffle prizes and a website that, hint, hint, is still up and taking donations to help Annie. http://www.friendsofannie.com/event.html.

And so we arrived around 6pm, hoping to see our good friend Kris, on her annual visit to Cleveland from Japan, among others from the local food and business communities. Please keep in mind that all of the wonderful food you are about to see was donated, as was the labor, and the time of the Chefs - who could have "sent someone," but instead gave up their day off to help this great cause.

Now, my usual event disclaimer. I attended this event with my mouth, brain and camera - no note pad. So, while I will try to describe the dishes accurately, it is possible I will make a mistake or omission. If anyone reading has a correction - please post a comment and let us know!

Brazilian Drink Cart

I was disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to enjoy the wares on this lovely cart - too busy playing with the food! But the cocktails looked lovely, and the cart was so festive on the patio. Food stations and the fabulous Joe Hunter Trio lined the perimeter. The Trio served up delightful jazz to accompany our noshes, and there was more food and drink inside the restaurant.

Grilled Cheese & Pork Sandwich
Chef Zack Bruell, Parallax/Table 45

This was our first nosh of the night. Grilled cheese oozing with butter and pork, plated over a gorgeous tomato-fennel based warm salad.

Pulled Pork w/Homemade Chips
Chef Karen Small, The Flying Fig

It was so nice to finally meet Chef Small in person! This little sandwich elicited "uhms" and "ahs" from my companions (and, well, me too).

Chicken Lollipops
Pamela Waterman, Bradley Schmid, Duet Catering

Dipping Sauce - Sweet Chili

Dipping Sauce - Thai Peanut

Chinese Inspired Chicken Salad
Chef Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit

I loved Chef Rocco's presentation as much as his salad!

Duck Confit Gyro
Chef Brandon Kercher,
Grovewood Tavern

A light and lovely crepe surrounded perfectly cooked duck (donated by Blue Ribbon Meats), and the following toppings.

It was a little messy - but finger-licking good!

This next item fooled me - I thought it was baked macaroni and cheese until I got closer. Oh what the heck - I can eat dessert in the middle of dinner!

Fresh Peach Cobbler
Chef Heather Haviland, Lucky's Cafe

The cobbler was topped with home-made whipped cream - even though the portion was way too large for a tasting like this - I cleaned my plate!

Several items were passed, and had no set "station." I regret that I missed at least two of them - a Southwestern Egg Roll and something Bob had the last of with a pancake and a rich meat topping. I did enjoy the following one, though:

Stewed Beef Over Fried Plantain
Ryan Alabaugh, Sergio's in University Circle?? I think??

Another item that was supposed to have a station, but Matt Harlan decided it was easier to just butler them:

Lamb Kabob
Chef Matt Harlan, Lolita

Yogurt, Cucumber, Dill Dipping Sauce

Having enjoyed most of the outdoor stations, we decided to head into the restaurant to see what other offerings we might nibble. Our first stop: Sarava's neighbor on Shaker Square, the Japanese restaurant Sasa, which was offering three types of Temaki (hand rolls) :



Spicy Tuna!
Chef Scott and Brenda Kim, SASAMATSU

Duck Breast Topped With Cherry & Berry, House Made Graham Cracker
Chef Paul Minillo, The Baricelli Inn

This treat was just ducky! And there was more duck!

Duck Breast over Potato Pancake, Raspberry Chipotle Drizzle
Chefs Ruth and Marc Levine, Bistro 185

Duck Latke - what's not to like??

Mini Sausage Sub
Chef Doug Katz, fire food & drink

Back outside again, and getting full, it was time to check out the offering from Momocho:

Fresh sweet corn is brushed with Chili-Butter, then grilled to perfection

Add a stick, crema, salsa, crumbled cheese and lime - and you have a special dish!

Grilled Sweet Corn
Chef Eric Williams, Momocho

Sarava hybridized its presentation. It had a stationary table, but brought out a series of bites, all different, a platter or two at a time, which meant it was impossible to taste everything. But everything I tasted from Chef Abramof's table was delicious!

Serrano Ham Stuffed with Manchego Cheese and (what was the green veggie in the middle???)

Who cares - it was wonderful!

Pork and Cheese Stuffed Calamari

A pasta item also came out at this time, but I wasn't fast enough to eat or photograph one, though it did look good!

Beef Short Rib in Puff Pastry

Strawberry Taco

I was going to pass on this (as I'm not a big sweets eater) - but I'm glad Bob told me not to miss this one!

Speaking of desserts - I was too stuffed to try any more of them. There were sweets strategically placed throughout Sarava, but I just couldn't. And, I apologize, I didn't get who all donated them - so please, please speak up in the comments section to recognize those who donated so much to this event.

Chef Dante Boccuzzi (of Restaurant Dante) presided over a gelato station serving Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry either in a mini-cone or as a sundae, with these lovely toppings:

I tried some plain vanilla with caramel sauce, but couldn't get very far. And I regret not having any room at all for Moxie's creation:

Donut Hole
Pastry Chef
Kate O'Donnell, Moxie

I also regret not getting more information on the folks who generously donated so much wine, to accompany all of this great food.

Sergio advised that the Friends of Annie website would be kept operational for as long as help is needed - so please feel free to head over there and donate something to keep Annie Chiu cooking in Cleveland when she returns to good health. And we do expect her to return - all of the reports I heard said that she made it through the surgery with flying colors, and is now in the process of healing. Our thoughts, prayers and positive energies go out to her!

A wonderful evening, playing with fabulous food and drink, donated by many of Cleveland's top food players for a great cause - thank you to the Abramofs and everyone who worked to put this event on and who is supporting one of our favorite chefs in her recovery!


  1. Desserts--on the round table to the left of the bar--were credited to Donna Chriszt (sp?) and Stone Oven, IIRC. Bread pudding, choc covered pretzels (maybe those were donated by Pretzables? they had a donation in the auction), other delectables. What a wonderful event! And, these pictures are mouth watering!!

  2. The pastry chef from Moxie/Red is Kate O'Donnell. She's actually my favorite pastry chef in Cleveland. My highlightts of the night were the sausage from Fire, the short rib in puff pastry from Sergio's,and of course the Donuts with the berry dipping sauce from Moxie. I think most creative presentation goes to Rocco Whalen from Fahrenheit with his Chicken Salad complete with take out container and chop sticks. He is also in the September '08 Bon Apetit providing the recipe for his Pizza with Figs and Arugala.

    This really was an awesome event for an awesome woman. I don't think you could ask for better weather (especially in Cleveland). Props are definitely in order for those who donated their time and money to this worthy cause. Great job!

    Thanks for the pictures.

  3. Thank you both for contributing!

  4. Sergio has informed me that anyone who wishes to donate by check rather than through Paypal can send that check to:

    Friends of Annie Fund
    c/o Sun Luck Garden Restaurant
    1901 S Taylor Rd.
    Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

  5. oh, I am so sad. I love sun luck and annie. I didn't hear about this event, but will donate through the site and pass the word to friends.