Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fun Playing With Food For Jewel

As I reported here, almost 20 of Cleveland's premier Chefs and their crews contributed to Monday night's gathering at the Cleveland Sight Center, to raise funds on behalf of Cleveland-area Chef Jeff Jarrett, and his wife Tammy. The Jarretts are hoping to adopt a second special-needs child from China, named Jewel. We were privileged to join this effort, and I've got some fun food photos to share. If you enjoy looking at these photos, or if the story has moved you, I hope you will consider visiting the event website and making a donation to help defray the hefty cost the Jarretts must incur to finalize the adoption and being Jewel home. Every little bit helps!

The facility's cafeteria was transformed into a sea of red tablecloths (red being an auspicious color) and cheerful Chinese decorations. A nearby room had some seating, which enabled my intrepid fellow food blogger Tom and I to take plate shots without elbowing anyone in the serving room. Along one wall of the cafeteria were tables with silent raffle items, all donated by generous supporters (most from the food community). Chinese music wafted through the air, provided by Jay Xiao and David Badagnani of the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble.

I began with a lovely beverage, prepared by the culinary students from Cuyahoga Community College's Culinary Arts program, who assisted the chefs all evening also. 



A Cookie and A Cupcake, Chef Wendy Thompson


Chef Wendy was unable to join us in person, but her assistant shared this amazing display of cupcakery. 

Usually, at this type of grazing event, I overdo the savories and have no desire for the sweets (or, the sweets are gone by the time I decide to consider them). Not this time! Strategically located at the first serving station, I decided to take a cupcake and not wait for later. As Wendy's assistant explained the many different types, I said "sold" and selected the one on the right when she mentioned "salt" and "caramel" in the same sentence. However, when she said the one on the left had a caramel-based center, and was their signature - well, I had to try one of those, too.

Both cupcakes were wonderful - even though I'm not a big sweets eater, I can certainly understand why Cookie and A Cupcake gets so much wonderful buzz! After eating these, I had a little buzz on too!

Tomato Bruschetta 

Red Pepper Bruschetta

These two tasty treats were offered by Chef Eric Wells of SkyeLarae’s Culinary Services. I especially liked the pepper version, but they were both delicious!

Curried Lamb Meatballs with Curried Rice, Chef Stacey Stoudemire, Simply Elegant Catering

Forgive the term, but I loved this elegantly spiced meatball and the seasoned rice that accompanied it.

Sushi Wannabee, Chef Matt Mytro, Stove Monkeys

This "faux sushi" consisted of infused cream cheese, cucumber and melon wrapped in prosciutto. A lovely bite!

Braised Shortrib, Mushroom, Coriander-Dusted Potato Chips, Chef Mike Nowak, Bar Cento

Melt-in-your mouth good! And the crispy, seasoned chips provided the perfect taste and textural counterpoint.

Chewy-Chocolate Roll with Strawberry Leather, Caramel, Lauren Stephenson, North End Wine Bar

Chef Jeff's associate presented this very satisfying sweet -described as a riff on a Tootsie Roll with a touch of Alinea. Worked for me!

The next table offered two items from the kitchen of Chef Jonathon Sawyer at Greenhouse Tavern:

Vichyssoise (Cold Potato-Leek Soup)

Bacon Arancini (Rice Balls)

These paired very well together.

Chocolate Ravioli filled with Foie Gras, Strawberry, Pepper, Onion

This dish was a collaboration between Jeremy Kisy of KJ Greens and Chef Adam Bostwick of Melange. A, you should pardon the expression, melange of sweet and savory flavors and concepts - this was a lovely couple of bites. Sorry the photos of the filling didn't come out well enough to post.

Pork Belly, Spicy Aioli, Chef Matt Mathlage, Light Bistro

Perfection. One of my top three of the evening. Just enough spice, soft yet toothy bread and pork. Chef Matt says that you can get a full-size version of this sandwich for $5 at Light's Happy Hour. Can't beat that - I want one!

Apple Crisp, Whipped Cream, House-made Caramel Sauce, Heather Haviland, Lucky's Cafe and Vine & Bean Cafe

Loved this dessert! Fresh apples, crunchy topping and my favorite sweet - fresh caramel! But Lucky's was not only represented by a dessert - Chef Ky-Wai Wong also appeared and whipped up a fabulous mac & cheese:

Mise en Place

This bowlful of cheesy, creamy goodness also made my top three.

This intriguing bite came from none other than our host, Chef Jeffrey Jarrett, Executive Chef at North End Wine Bar. A savory disguised as a sweet - this cake had beets as part of its body, and a savory topping that only looked like icing. Clever and delicious!

Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Mousse, Apple Chutney, Chef Aaron Guzik, L'Albatros Brasserie

This creamy bite exuded rich favor, cut just enough by the sweet chutney.

Braised Pork Belly and Plantain Chip Skewer, Pineapple Saffron Sauce, Mark Cleland, North End Wine Bar

Chef Jeff's other associate, Mark, produced this savory plate. We definitely need to get back to North End!

Cauliflower Panna Cotta, Chef Ellis Cooley, AMP 150

This very creative, savory take on panna cotta featured a chive puree and a dash of caviar.

Lentil Salad, Chef Brian Doyle, World's Fare Culinary Services / Danny's Organic Market

It seems that no matter what the cause or who the organizer, Chef Brian Doyle is always there with fun food to play with, and this evening was no exception. This was a refreshing salad, bursting with flavors and texture.

Jerked Pork, Chef Matt Baber, Naya Bistro & Lounge 

I was sure that this was a spicy beef - but someone told me right before I left that it was Jerked Pork - all I know is that it was delicious and one of my top three! Though my first bite of the bread said "never use toast on a buffet because it will get hard" - that first thought was soooo wrong - the liquid from the meat seaped into the toast and made something so much greater than either part - I loved it!

Leave it to Chef Dante Boccuzzi to find a way to work Chinese spoons into this event!

Mozzarella Spheroid over Tomato Jam, Chef Dante Boccuzzi, Restaurant Dante 

Perched atop a lip-smacking tomato jam was a spheroid that was solid mozzarella on the outside, and liquid on the inside. Eaten in one bite - it exploded with creamy flavor in the mouth.

Each guest was asked to vote for a favorite item - which I had a very hard time deciding upon. And, if I included the sweets (which I never do, because I'm not a big dessert person), I'd have had an even harder time choosing - it was all so good! Still - because they asked - someone had to "win" (though the extended Jarrett family was the real winner). Jeff advises that the top three dishes, as voted by the guests, were:

1. Ky-Wai Wong, Mac & Cheese
2. Matt Mathlage, Pork Belly Sandwich
3. Matt Baber, Jerked Pork
Great minds must think alike, because those were my top three (though not in that exact order).

And so, another evening of Fun Playing With Food came to an end amid wonderful company, tasty eats, and the warm glow of helping a truly good and worthy cause.


  1. Great pictures and post! Nice seeing you there...look for a link to this on my site, too!

  2. Great summary of a wonderful evening! I'm so happy to hear that Matt's sandwich is available at Light Bistro's Happy Hour. That was certainly one of our top 3!