The most sought after seats in town right now are places at the tables of Foreign & Domestic restaurant during the first Indie Chefs Week. Up and coming chefs from around the country will be creating multi-course dinners with wine pairings four nights in a row. Austin diners are obviously eager to meet them.
Indie Chefs Week is the brainchild of Foreign & Domestic chef and co-owner Ned Elliot, who has invited chefs he admires to cook at his restaurant. "Some of them are guys I knew from cooking school and others are people we worked with in Portland and New York. One of them was the best man at our wedding. Then there's the ones I've gotten to know by following them on Twitter. I'm really excited to have them all coming here," he explains.
In fact,this group of twenty and thirty-something chefs is the first generation coming of age with social media connections playing a big part in their careers. Everyone we spoke with credited Facebook and Twitter as great platforms for creating relationships with other working chefs around the country. "At this stage in our careers, we're all so busy working that it's not really possible to travel as much as we'd like to check out what other guys are doing," says Jeremiah Langhorne of McCrady's in Charleston, adding "following people on Twitter gives you an idea of what they are into."
Craig Thornton, creator of the uber hot Wolfesmouth supper club series in Los Angeles explains it this way, "So far, we've developed this great virtual camaraderie. Now, the next step is participating in an event like this where you can see what other guys are doing and that sort of helps you gauge where you are in your creative development."
Don't show up expecting to see Food Network stars with a long string of restaurants to their credit or even Top Chef competitors. These young men and women are, however, the up-and-comers in their respective markets, chefs de cuisine at highly regarded regional destination restaurants or creators of trendy pop-up supper club concepts that are attracting loyal diners as well as a fair share of media attention. The chefs involved in next week's event are an interesting mix of Austin and Houston names: Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo; Anthony Fusco, Nathan Lemley, Ned & Jodi Elliot, and Rosie Shipman of Foreign & Domestic; Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside; Todd Duplechan of Lenoir; Mat Clouser of Swift's Attic; Plinio Sandalio of the Carillon; and Randy Rucker and Monica Glenn from Houston, plus some of the hottest young cooking talent from around the country: Adam Kaplan, Tamer Riad, and Gregory Gourdet of Portland; Ben Sukle and James Mark of Providence; Scott Malloy of Chicago; Nicholas Wilkins of Red Bank, NJ; Craig Thornton and Gary Menes of Los Angeles; David Barzelay of San Francisco; David Diaz of New York City; and Edwin Bloodworth of Boone, NC.
Many of the visiting chefs will be making their first visit to Austin and the ones we've spoken with are excited about the opportunity to sample our regional cuisines, live music scene, and legendary hospitality. Ned Elliot reports he's arranged for a short term rental house in the neighborhood above Zilker Park so all the visitors can stay together with one base of operations while they're here. Elliot has been busy sourcing ingredients for all the various courses, but some of the chefs will be bringing distinctive ingredients from their own region of the country to feature in their dishes. For instance, Ben Sukle of the Dorrance in Providence will be toting quohags and Newport Bay scallops while Jeremiah Langhorne plans to bring crab and stone ground grits from Charleston.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, the evenings will start out with a complementary cocktail and an opportunity to chat with the eight participating chefs before dinner service. These dinners ($125 per person) will consist of eight courses with wine pairings. Saturday night's dinner ($200) will be a 21-couse blow-out with all the chefs participating and plenty of wine to complement the courses. If you had the good fortune to attend the Killed by Dessert or MiLa dinners at Foreign & Domestic in the fall, you know the best part about these evenings is being able to see all the kitchen action, up close and personal, from seats at the counter or communal tables in the small dining room. Watching the teamwork as chefs help each other put out course after course of fascinating food; observing young chefs demonstrating their passion for food is well worth the price of a ticket. As of Thursday afternoon, all the dinners are sold out except Wednesday night. For complete details and tickets, go here. See you there!
Foreign & Domestic
306 East 53rd 459-1010
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