It's been eight years since the Maryland Chapter of Chaine des Rotisseurs, the international gourmet club, had its gourmet dinner at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, but all members agreed it was worth the wait. Hunt Valley hosts Andrew Schiavone (director of catering), Ralph Carotenuto (food and beverage director), Roger Valentine (executive chef) and Guy Davidson (maitre d') put on an impressive show for the guests.
Only hours after I had arrived in Baltimore from an Orlando vacation, I was doing what I least needed to do -- eating. The evening began with champagne -- no hard stuff is served -- and an array of unusual appetizers that included bear meat, Smithfield ham, fried brie, and shrimp in rice paper.
This was followed by a club induction ceremony led by Dr. Robert Green, the regional director for the Northeast. He and Chaine officers Buzzy Levin and Duke Goldberg welcomed Jack Breskow, Dr. Gary Pushkin, C. Paige Rose, Connie Williams and Edward B. Vinson as new members. (Vinson's dad, Bernie, is New York's regional director.) And what a culinary welcome they received! I don't think I've ever seen a better presentation of food that also tasted good. The meal began with sliced smoked salmon and baby asparagus woven together; wild pheasant and mushroom soup was served in round, hollowed-out loafs of pumpernickel bread -- it looked like a mushroom; lobster and mango; feioja ginger sorbet; veal in sun dried cherry sauce; "mesclun" greens with fennel; an assortment of good cheeses, and angel hair pasta served on chocolate with a raspberry sauce -- which was the only "iffy" dish for me. Excellent wines, selected by Chaine wine expert Ted Task, were served with every course.
Among those praising Chef Valentine and his staff of nearly 40 were Marlene Goldberg, Donna and Bernard Kuder, Paul Auerbach, Jay Block, Julie and John Grim, Roland Jeannier, Dr. Stanley Order, Adi Rehm, Nancy Hoffner and Tom Stuehler, who was beaming from all the compliments his catering firm, Truffles, received for the food they prepared for the aquarium gala last weekend.
While all that praise was being lavished on the chef, Claudenia Burgemeister, PR gal for the Hunt Valley Inn, asked Valentine's wife, Linda, if she did the cooking at home. She smiled and said, "It's tough to cook for a chef."
It has occurred to me that this whole column is food oriented -- I wonder if it's because I began a diet today . . .
Tomorrow at Stouffer Harborplace Hotel, more than 20 area chefs (including Michael Rork from Harbor Court and Guy Reinbold from Stouffer's) will be whipping up their specialties from 3 to 7 p.m. at the annual "Food for All" to benefit the Maryland Food Committee and the Maryland Food Bank.
Tickets, which are $40, may be purchased at the door and I should tell you that this event is worth the price of admission. Where else can you go and pig out on dishes like crab bouillabaisse, oyster chowder, corn bread, escargots in brioche, marinated exotic fall veggies, seafood and chicken dishes and lots of tasty desserts? Alan Villaverde, Stouffer's GM, who is also the president of the Baltimore Hotel and Motel Association, says he hopes to raise more than $30,000. Call 1-800-543-3041 for tickets.
Local architects and chefs have teamed up to create Edible Architecture to benefit Action for the Homeless. The eight teams, each comprised of architects and a chef, are Nathalie Tisseaux and chef Paula Bauer; Scott Murrell and Kathy Lindquist with chef Guy Reinbold; Jane Gregory and chef Gerry Edwards; Duncan Walker and chef Randy Stehl; Tim Duke and chef Glee Ianniello; Patrick Sutton and chef Debra Downs; Bill Keller and chef Michael Rork, and Peter Garver and Julie Gabrielli Garver with chef Nancy Longo.
The public is invited to see the wonderful gingerbread creations on display in the windows of the old Hecht Company building at Howard and Lexington streets through Dec. 5. The judging will begin Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. and Mayor Kurt Schmoke has agreed to help out with the judging. At that time, the public will also be able to vote for a People's Choice winner. Donations are encouraged with each vote you cast and there's a chance you could win a gingerbread house for your home. For more information, call Downtown Partnership at 244-1030.
Sylvia Badger's column also appears Tuesday in the Accent section of The Evening Sun.