On the heels of Saturday’s Taste Talks panels and workshops, Sunday’s All-Star Cookout was definitely the after party. Held at East River State Park, the Cookout occupied Smorgasburg’s regular digs and turned the space into the classiest version of a food fair that Brooklyn has ever seen. Top chefs from New York City and abroad were paired together to collaborate on tasting dishes and basically just kick the ass of every dish I’ve had in the past year. Consisting of eleven plates, patrons were allowed to try one of each, meaning, on Sunday, I ate eleven different dishes within the course of about two hours…and loved every single second of it.
Chargrilled beef heart and preserved lemon relish on house bread, Chef April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig) + Chef Nate Smith (Allswell)
The recurring theme of the day? MEAT. Sorry, vegetarians, you’re in no luck here – and vegans, you’re way out of luck – the All-Star Cookout was one big meat party (there’s no other way to say it). All but two dishes were meat-based – fine with me because I’m the ultimate carnivore, but the veggies involved were generally accents, and though delicious, I would have loved to have seen someone get super creative with the vegetables.
Mediterranean inspired wood grilled yellow fin tuna collar, Chef Joe Pasqualetto (Rucola) & Chef Brian Leth (Vinegar Hill House)
Ribeye with chimmichurri and chapa bread, Chef Francis Mallmann + Tom Mylan + Brent Young (Meat Hook)
Ancho and coriander rubbed smoked chicken thigh skewer with yogurt, picked onions, and herbs, Chef Carolyn Bane (Pies & Thighs) + Chef Caroline Fidanza (Saltie)
The two absolute best dishes, in my opinion: Chefs Carolyn Bane and Caroline Fidanza, how did you do it? So many people do chicken wrong, me included, generally overcooking and overseasoning and oversaucing it to the point where I’m pretty sure many people out there don’t even know what real chicken tastes like. These two ladies knocked the bird out of the park with their ancho and coriander rubbed smoked chicken thigh skewer paired with yogurt, pickled onions, and herbs, and turned one of chicken’s least biggest supporters (me!) into a believer.
Smoked Texas beef tenderloin with summer corn succotash, Chef Jeremy McMillan (Bedford Post Inn) + Chef Elizabeth Karmel (Hill Country)
Favorite dish two is obviously the smoked Texas beef tenderloin with summer corn succotash, prepared by Bedford Post Inn’s Chef Jeremy McMillan, and Hill Country’s Chef Elizabeth Karmel, and if you’re wondering why… just look at it. That beef tenderloin is so food porn-y to the point where you even feel a little uncomfortable ogling it, and you don’t want anyone else to catch you looking at it, because… it’s just that good.
Grilled beef tongue with pearl couscous and matbucha, Chef Eli Sussman (Mile End Deli) + Dave 1 (Chromeo)
Kentucky mutton burgoo with cornbread, Chef Sean Rembold (Reynards, Diner, Marlow & Sons) + Chris Bear (Grizzly Bear)
Mini ostrich burger with tomato, black cherry chutney, and watercress on South African “roosterbrood” with Cape Malay seasoned frites, Chef Hugo Uys (South Africa)
Brown sugar and coffee-rubbed pulled pork shoulder sliders with red eye gravy barbecue sauce and whiskey pickles, Chef John Stage (Dinosaur BBQ) + Jon Feldman (Stumptown Coffee Roasters)
‘Cue smoked bacon with Mast Brothers mole and salsa verde, Chef Nicholas Kayser (Fatty’ Cue) + Rick and Michael Mast (Mast Brothers Chocolate)
Other notable event to note: Besides eating eleven dishes in the course of two hours, I spent the majority of my non-eating time hovering awkwardly near Questlove while he was waiting in various lines.
Sweet corn ice cream, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream + Chef Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns)
To all the chefs: if the All-Star Cookout was a ploy to get customers, then congratulations, because now I want to go to all of your restaurants. What a treat it was to learn about new ingredients and experience flavors I’ve never had, and by some of the best chefs – I’ve never eaten beef heart before, ostrich, or tongues of any kind, and I seriously had to Google both the words “mutton” and “burgoo” after I had Instagrammed it just in case anyone asked me what it was and so I didn’t sound dumb.
If anyone’s wondering whether Taste Talks as a whole is worth it – take it from me, that’s a loud and resounding YES.
***My next stop on the Eventbrite NYC Blogger Tour? I’ll be learning how to make cheese in a Cheesemaking 101 class with Bedford Cheese Shop this coming Wednesday! If you’re interested in taking part or learning more about the event, find out more on Eventbrite!
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