Top Chef Masters with A Top Chef Master

>> Thursday, June 10, 2010

I can't believe that I am about to write this post; everything from tonight seems so surreal. Tonight I watched Top Chef Masters with Chef Marcus Sammuelsson (of Aquavit in NYC) one of the five chefs chosen to compete in tonights episode, at the rooftop bar of the fabulous Affinia Hotel in Chicago

I heard about this event courtesy of one of Chicago's best food blogs 312 Dining Diva. Immediately I knew I had to invite my cousin and fellow foodie, Dory, to come along. Naturally, she was in, along with her foodie friend Amy. So tonight we met up with very little expectations; at the most we were hoping to get Chef Marcus to sign a cookbook...ah, naivety you keep me young...

We arrive at the Affinia hotel and take the elevator straight to the top to C-view, the sky bar for the Marcus Sammuelsson restaurant downstairs in the hotel, C-house. We head outside to the beautiful patio and sit a long table that stetches nearly half the porch. Looking around I can't believe I am here. The view is unreal, the weather is perfect (70 with a soft breeze) and I know the food is going to be amazing. 

We start off cautiously with couple of cocktails (I got the Yes Chef!) and a plate of three cured meats, a special running on Top Chef nights for $10. To start we had:

- Salmon - "pastarmi" style
- Guanciale - cured pork jowel
- Jamon Serrano - dry-cured Spanish ham 

This was served with grainy mustard and grilled french bread. Out of all three, I think my favorite would have to be the Guanciale. There was such a nice blend of fat and meat that it made each bite melt in my mouth. Before I knew it I had consumed about half the portion and had to be put in cured meat time-out. The salmon was in a close a second. So light and delicate, I easily could have eaten half. the Jamon Serrano was delicious as well, but compared to the other two, this one was my least favorite. While a nice blend of fat and meat, I felt like I had the flavors before. I loved them, but again, the other two were just amazing. 

For dinner we ordered:

- Mini Yellowfin Tacos
- Lobster Club
- Bacon and onion jam flatbread

Thinking about these make my mouth water. The tacos were in fact mini, I dare say even bit size! I didn't order them but was completely happy with the one I sampled. Light, fresh and clean are all the adjectives that come to mind. This would be a great dish to share among a group. The lobster club was about as decadent as they come. Lobster, bacon, mayonnaise - what's not to like? And that's exactly the sentiment I had. It was so delicious and creamy I easily could have eaten the whole thing, but alas it was not my main meal; I ordered the flatbread. When it arrived in front of me I instantly smelled the bacon. Ah, sweet, sweet, bacon. Cheese, bacon, pears, and onions are never a bad combo and this was no different. The flatbread itself was a great balance between crispy and chewy. 

So you would think the food and atmosphere would be enough right? You would be wrong. To top this evening off, we watched the episode in which Marcus is featured with him all night. It was truly an amazing experience to watch someone on TV while they are standing (and yes, he was standing right next to me) during the show.

Chef Marcus was so kind, fielding our questions, signing our cookbooks and in general, just hanging out. He was completely unpretentious and inviting (much like the food at C-view) and created a memorable night for me. I wrote on a napkin my blog, so Marcus if you are reading - thanks for making my night!

It's going to be hard to top this one, but I have a lot of big foodie events coming up so stay tuned!!


Anonymous April 15, 2010 at 12:03 PM  

Renee - I agree, this night couldn't have gone any better! You forgot to mention the free appetizers that we devoured. The pretzel bites, chocolate cake, and pear fennel tarts were so delicious.

I'm so glad you invited me along!


Unknown April 15, 2010 at 12:49 PM  

What a great time! And the food looks/sounds fantastic!

This'd be like me getting to watch Spider-Man 4 with Stan Lee. Awesome!

kristen June 25, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

how fun is that!!! love the blog renee!!! miss you!


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