'Top Chef' Mike Isabella to create Preakness menu

Baltimore chefs make James Beard debuts, Sticky Rice gets thumbs up from PETA

March 26, 2013|By Richard Gorelick, The Baltimore Sun

People flock to Pimlico Race Course on the third Saturday in May for the excitement, for a good party or for a stiff Black-Eyed Susan. The bill of fare, though, hasn't been high on the list of attractions since the Coolidge administration.

The Maryland Jockey Club is looking to have the food at this year's race make the kind of lasting impression fans haven't seen since 1997, when Silver Charm, Free House and Captain Bodgit were separated at the finish by less than three feet.

So the club president announced that the Preakness is bringing in Washington-based celebrity chef Mike Isabella to create the menus for the corporate and VIP tents. The chef-owner of Graffiato in Washington, Isabella was on the sixth season of "Top Chef," when he competed against local brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio.

Isabella's proposed menu includes coffee-dusted roasted tenderloin of beef, free-range pepperoni chicken with farro risotto and Chesapeake crab cakes with guanciale and kohlrabi slaw. The offerings will also include crab cakes and a raw bar featuring oysters from Hoopers Island.

The Maryland Jockey Club said that it hopes to team up with celebrity chefs every year.

Baltimore on the Hudson Three Baltimore chefs will make their James Beard House debuts on May 30 when they prepare a Chesapeake Bounty dinner for the James Beard Foundation.

The chefs, Chad Gauss (the Food Market), Cyrus Keefer (Birroteca) and Sajin Renae (Fork & Wrench), are behind three of the most popular and well-reviewed restaurant openings of 2012.

An invitation to the Beard House in New York City is to chefs what a gig at the Grand Ole Opry is to country singers. "It's like when the Ravens went to the Super Bowl," said Gauss.

Their menu for the Chesapeake Bounty dinner at James Beard House has not been finalized, but Gauss said he is tentatively planning a Smith Island Cake with Cherry Glen goat cheese ricotta and strawberries. The three chefs drew numbers to determine who would tackle which of the six courses, but Gauss and Keefer ended up swapping. "I really wanted to have an opportunity to do pastry," Gauss said.

The Chesapeake Bounty dinner is one of more than 200 culinary events open to the public that take place at the James Beard House in New York City throughout the year. Tickets for the Chesapeake Bounty dinner are $170 for the general public. For information about tickets call 212-627-2308.

The James Beard Foundation was named for the celebrated author, educator and champion of American cuisine James Beard, who died in 1985.

Beard Awards Woodberry Kitchen's Spike Gjerde wasn't the only Baltimorean who got good news when the James Beard Award finalists were announced last week.

Paul Lukacs, director of the Center for Humanities at Loyola University Maryland, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award. Lukacs' book "Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures" was among three finalists in the beverage category.

Lukacs was a James Beard Foundation Book Award winner in 2001 for his previous book, "American Vintage."

The James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Dinner will take place May 3 at Gotham Hall in New York City.

Sticky kudos Sticky Rice, with four locations including Fells Point in Baltimore, has been named by PETA as one of the top 10 restaurants for vegan sushi, taking the No. 8 spot.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was impressed with Sticky Rice for offering two types of tofu-based sushi as well as a dozen vegan sushi dishes featuring vegetables, running the gamut, PETA said, from the Dirty South (vegan tempura fried sweet potato and sesame seeds) to the Hot Hippy (spicy marinated tofu, scallions, peanuts, cucumbers, and carrots).

Sticky Rice is 1634 Aliceanna St. For information call 443-682-8243, or go to bmoresticky.com

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