Twice a year Hour Magazine puts on five dinners where different local chefs collaborate for a special five course meal for 150 people at the Great Lakes Culinary Center.
I’ve thought about attending since its inception, but since the menu is not released ahead of time, I was always too scared to actually buy tickets and go. When I found out Mei Lin, the winner of the most recent season of Top Chef was going to cook along with James Rigato from The Root and Mabel Gray, I put my fears aside and bought tickets, ready for a culinary adventure.
I enjoy trying new foods, but some things freak me out – raw meat and seafood and offal high on that list. However, I tried to go with an open mind and just enjoy myself. What was the worst that could happen? I leave hungry. Oh well, there’s always more food to be had.
My parents and I met with our friends Art and Jessica for the evening. It was even Jessica’s birthday! Happy birthday, Jessica!! The location is quite beautiful. It’s an open space with and open kitchen, so we could see some of the action. And it was packed – I don’t think there was an empty seat in the house.
I didn’t get a chance to try any of the appetizers, though I’m sure they were amazing. Before long, we headed to our table and the meal began. The chefs introduced each course and were assisted by a team to make sure each course arrived to us promptly. A plethora of waiters and waitresses delivered the wine pairings, as well as the food.
My worst fears were realized when sea scallop crudo, clams, and pork tongue were on the menu. I tried to have an open mind, but told myself I wouldn’t try the scallops. When that first course arrived at the table, however, it smelled and looked beautiful. I reminded myself that I may never have the chance to have a chef of Mei’s caliber cook for me again, so I threw caution to the wind and tried the sea scallop crudo with ponzu sauce and some light fresh vegetables.
I loved it! It was one of my favorite courses because of the silky, sweet scallops. Next up were the clams with a spicy coconut milk sauce and bacon made by James. The clams were a little chewy (the only thing I didn’t like or eat the entire night), but the sauce and bacon were outstanding. I just ate the sauce like a soup.
The pork tongue with celery root puree, harissa, and sunchoke chips followed. Everyone at our table was leery of this, but I tried it and was pleasantly surprised to find it tender and super flavorful. It really had almost a corned beef quality to it. I ate the whole plate and would happily eat a bowl of the celery root puree.
The smoked pork with apple kimchi, cabbage, and lardo that Mei cured herself was the main course and it did not disappoint. I practically licked the plate. It was such a comforting, satisfying dish, which was nice to see at an event like this. The apple kimchi was such a surprise – juicy raw apple spheres coated in that classic kimchi spice. They would make an awesome snack.
Finally came dessert. Though I’m not much of a wine drinker and found the wine served throughout the night okay, the port that was served with dessert totally had me. It was robust and flavorful. I’ll be picking up a bottle of that!
Persimmon cake with buttermilk ice cream, butternut squash caramel, and candied pecans rounded out the meal in the best possible way. We all wanted another plate of it.
I was so sad to see the night come to an end, but we did manage to say hi to James and Mei on the way out. Their meal was so impressive and delicious. I’m so glad I went because it was a fun night and pushed me out of my culinary comfort zone. I tried many new foods and found that I really enjoyed them.
Savor Detroit is a really unique, special experience, and I definitely want to go back next year!