I was fortunate to be invited to the Chefs in the City event, organised by Social Cloud China.
The series of events featured dinners with 6 courses from 6 unique Italian chefs. The final instalment was held at the Grand Kempinski Hotel in Shanghai’s Lujiazui distruct.
Chefs in the City is a Shanghai based non-profit organisation comprised of some of the city’s premier Italian chefs, aiming to create a unique Italian culinary experience with high quality ingredients sourced globally.
This final dinner of the second edition was done in a Gala dinner style, with musical performances from Antonio Voria and Alessia Raisi, as well as lucky draws and contests.
The event was fully booked, and I had a good time meeting interesting people from all walks of life in Shanghai, as well as some similar foodies.
Because this wasn’t a normal dining event, I will simply go into the 6 courses and their respective chefs, and then conclude by choosing the top 3 courses.
Rivisited Cyber Egg 2014
by Chef David Bassan of Bocca
The presentation of this starter raised several eyebrows, because it was wrapped in plastic wrap. Chef Bassan came on the stage to do a demonstration of how the dish was created, as well as explaining the thinking behind the dish.
It was an egg yolk cooked sous vide at 61 degrees for 40mins, and then topped with caviar, a splash of vodka and shallots. To eat, you use an included scalpel to cut a slit off the bubble, and then suck the contents in your mouth.
Yes, sounds a little gross, but it was super delicious and no tummies were upset that evening. The dish was actually somewhat of a play on the egg concept, fish eggs (caviar) paired with the egg yolk. The plastic wrap served as the egg shell. Popped in the mouth, there was the richness of the egg yolk, a slight brininess from the caviar and then accented and balanced beautifully with the shallots and vodka sauce. I was very impressed by the creativity and taste of this dish. 9/10
by Chef Ricardo Messina from Acqua e Farina
I had a sampler of this dish while waiting by the kitchen area before the event started. These are essentially cubes of foie gras, tossed in a peanut and walnut mixture, served with a wobbly mango gelatine and chutney on the side. A very interesting take on Foie Gras. I already had quite a few tastings of Foie Gras the past week, and still enjoyed this rendition quite abit. The Foie wasn’t too strong, and the peanuts and walnuts crust gave it texture and an extra dimension to the flavour. The fruity chutney is classic, and helped cut through the richness. 8/10
Black ink ravioli
by Chef Marco Barbieri from Da Marco
The filling of the ravioli was stretched-curd bufala mozzarella, and garnished with fresh Uni with a Broccolini anchovies strained sauce.
Fresh flavours. The seafood flavour of the ravioli wasn’t overpowering, and quite subtle, which gave way to the fresh sea urchin, lifting the profile of each bite. If the sauce was too strong, the sea urchin would have been drowned out. The fried capers helped to accent some bites, taking your mind away from everything once in a while. Well thought out, and beautiful to look at. 8/10
Walking at Low Tide
by Chef Giuseppe Tino from Gaia 2
This was the piece de resistance for me that evening. You know a dish is freakin’ epic when prior to serving it, you are shown a powerpoint slide with A MAP OF THE DISH.
The idea behind the dish was somewhat like a vacation on a beach in Thailand. The dish starts with one taking off their flip flops on the sand, modelled with some seaweed gelatine, and then walking on the beach — footsteps painted with squid ink.
Next, you encounter an array of seafood, shrimp, clams, squid, a fish macaron and finally a mussel gratin. Lying behind the fore ground are some ‘sea water’ gelatine, and throughout the dish, in place of sand are seaweed bread crumbs.
This dish had a very strong flavour of the sea, such that a couple of my dining companions felt it was too strong. For me, I thought it succeeded in bringing ones senses back to snorkelling in the shallow waters of Phuket. I thought I even tasted the sea water. This dish not only excited the visual senses, but also bombarded the nose and taste buds with whiffs of the ocean. Impeccable. Superb. Masterful. My only complaint was that I found a fish bone in the macaron, and also the gratin was quite mushy and lacked a crispy texture. 9/10
Black Pork Liver, Tuscan Style
by Chef Marco Busatti from Isola
Served on top of a piece of deep fried polenta, and with a black cabbage sauce with a red wine foam. This was unfortunately the biggest letdown of the evening. Perhaps Chef Busatti thought that a steak was too boring. However, even for a bunch of Chinese dining in our media table; We’re used to eating pork liver in Chinese cuisine. The pan-seared pork liver was way too rich and strong for our liking. The accompanying sauce was also rich, and instead of balancing with the rich and almost pungent pork liver, it made it even heavier. Most of us stopped eating after a third bite. I’m sorry, this dish simply didn’t work out, and paled in comparison to its predecessors. Presentation-wise it looked very nice. 4/10
by Chef Corrado Michelazzo from 10 Corso Como
Chef Michelazzo is the only michelin starred Italian chef in China, and well deservedly so. His alcoholic dessert looked beautiful, and every bit the name ‘Evergreen’. I thought the use of greens on top of a dessert was unusual. The reason was because it made use of some Celery-infused spirits. Quite interesting and sophisticated, but not really my cup of tea. 7.5/10
In conclusion, the top 3 dishes of the evening were:
Black Ink Ravioli by Chef Marco Barbieri
from Da Marco
Cyber Egg Revisited 2014 by Chef David Bassan
Walking at Low Tide by Chef Giuseppe Tino
from Gaia 2
All in all, a very interesting and entertaining evening. Mad props to Ambra and Federica from Social Cloud China for organising AND hosting the event. I am looking forward to the 2015 edition!