When we heard Chef Lee Anne Wong was in town cooking a seven-course meal, we had to go check it out. Always offering up spot-on food reviews with a dry wit, Lee Anne is a regular contributor on Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats and our resident Appetizer Adviser.
Lee Anne’s dinner on Wednesday night was hosted by City Grit, a culinary salon that plays host to guest chefs and cookbook authors and is housed in a former Catholic school. The chefs are able to turn the raw event space (which doubles as a store during the day) into a food-filled dining experience. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Chef Wong’s extravaganza entitled, My Journey through Cooking; Mentors, Lessons, and Inspirations.
The seven-course tribute dinner was dedicated to the many chefs, friends and family who have influenced, guided, and inspired her during her culinary career. Here’s a peek at what we tasted:
Bacon Makes the World Go Round: Billionaire’s BLT
Indeed, it does. And no one loves it better than Chef Wong. The BLT bread was more like a pastry dough, that was a light and airy complement to the crispy bacon and lettuce.
Old Skool Rumaki
This Asian-inspired dish features water chestnuts and pieces of duck wrapped in bacon and marinated in soy sauce and brown sugar. Crispy on the outside and crunchy on the inside.
The Swedish Connection: Nils and Marcus: Smoked Togarashi White Tuna, Almond Tofu, Smoked Figs, Bonito, Onions and Sesame
Chef Wong worked with Marcus Samuelsson and Nils Noren at Aquavit and her cuisine is influenced by their teachings, including one of her favorite cooking techniques: smoking. It was by far the most delicious dish of the evening.
My time at 66 with Shorty Chef: Roasted Kabocha Squash, Mushrooms, Butternut Squash Dumplings, Nori Butter; en Papillote, Parmesan Miso Fondue
Chef Wong was part the opening staff at Jean Georges Vongrichten’s Chinese spot, restaurant 66. This dish was like unwrapping a present, which was then smothered in Parmesan Fondue.
I Love Andre: “Choucroute” Mirin Glazed Spanish Mackerel, Sauerkraut Dashi Broth, Crispy Pork Belly, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Shiitake Bacon, Brussel Sprouts
Chef Wong refers to Chef Andre Soltner as “the grandfather I never had.” He loves Alsatian cuisine and this dish was inspired by their mentoring relationship. The broth was a warming complement to the crispy mushrooms and pork belly.
Ode to Tom: “Reinvention” Soy and Ginger Poached Lamb Loin, Black Truffle Jus, Zosui, Bitter Greens
Chef Wong loved her time on Top Chef but enjoyed recreating the dish that got her sent home by Chef Tom Colicchio. After tasting the dish, we might not have made the same decision, Tom.
Fruit Fantasy: Matcha Yogurt, Basil Seeds, Shiso Flower, Nigori Sake Sauce
It was very sweet to see Saori Kawano in the dining room as Chef Wong introduced her as her “other mother.” It was one of the most beautifully presented fruit salads I’ve seen.
Favorite memories of golden raspberries from the backyard: Dark Chocolate Cremeaux, Black Sesame Praline, Golden Raspberries
While Chef Wong’s mother was unable to attend the event, this tribute to her came from the childhood memory of eating golden raspberries straight from her family home’s backyard. Their tart flavor was balanced by the sweet chocolate mousse.
Yes, we sampled everything on this blackboard.