Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration, with Sweets by Maggie!

My girl Maggie came down to Florida a few weeks ago for a visit and over a few glasses of our beloved sangria, she told me about her upcoming event at The Chef’s Garden.  Wow!!! I was excited to hear that she would be participating in The Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration, an event I have been hearing about for many years.  The event is put together to combat childhood obesity, with chefs, wine vendors, and food & beverage companies all participating to make the magic happen.  There are wine seminars, chef demos, book signings and of course, lots of tasting!!  By the end of the pitcher of sangria, she had me convinced, I must travel to Ohio and help the Sweets by Maggie team!

The event kicked off with a welcome reception for all the participants and their teams!  The scenery was lovely; the wine was flowing and the buffet was plentiful.  The host of the event, the staff of Veggie U, The Chef’s Garden and the Culinary Vegetable Institute welcomed us graciously.  It was a perfect summer evening to meet many new friends and reconnect with old ones!

The Culinary Vegetable Institute, also known as CVI

Welcome to Ohio Chef Brian!! Maggie and Brian worked together years ago at WDW. I guess it IS a Small world after all ;-/

Birds eye view of the dining room at the CVI. The chefs were finishing up their prep for the evening before joining the welcome reception.

Chef's finish your mise en place!!

The Grand Tasting Tent- this is where the action would take place! Vendors, chefs, sponsors will thrill guests with their bounty from The Chef's Garden!

Our favorite sales person, Michele!

We were home from the welcoming party by 12:30 AM, grabbed a quick nap before heading to Maggie’s shop at 3:00 AM.  (My friends at work thought I was taking a vacation, hahaha).  We made up batters, beat buttercream, baked cupcakes, packed all the equipment and shoved it in the car by 1:00 pm.  And we were off to the races!

The Subaru was loaded! But it all fit! And that is the lovely Cheryl, who rocked all weekend long with us! Attention Wrigley, you have a new Life Saver flavor!

The Culinary Vegetable Institute, I ran by those chairs all evening long....tempting!

The Reefer Truck- It was refreshing to run and get supplies from the truck, despite the distance, as it gave me break from the heat!

Port Wine Brownies by Sweets By Maggie- We prepped in the reefer truck and were able to keep the desserts from spoiling....mostly... I ate the other ones! 🙂

Wine Seminar Tent - This was great because we were very close to it, while I was busy being a Cake Ball Ninja, I listened closely to the Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado!

The gardens around the property were gorgeous! I love that you can see people hustling in back before we get started!

Such a beautiful setting to work in!

The Sweets by Maggie table! Getting close to opening, JUST a few friends to feed! 🙂

The tent before the action started.

Tart Cherry Cupcake with Grand Marnier Buttercream; and Lemon Lavender Cupcake with Local Honey Buttercream! They were fabulous!

Port Wine Brownies. I gotta say, the reduction was beautiful -hollllaaaaa!

Cake Balls! There were teams developing amongst the guests, arguing which one was better. (It was a tough decision, but I finally sided with Team White Cake Ball)

Sea Turtle Cake Balls, caramel, pecans, chocolate, sea salt, a few other things and of course, love! Just make sure you don't call them Sea Turtle Balls- I got a few looks when I quickly spieled the desserts.

Salted Caramel Cake Balls! These are soooo good, unfortunately I didn't have any to bring home to my friends in Florida! Hoping Sweets by Maggie starts shipping soon!

That's me- Cake Ball Ninja

Pipe Away Maggie!

I did manage to slip away before the event got going, taking a tour of all the chefs and what they were serving.  The caliber of creativity and culinary responsibility (local, sustainable, fresh, ect…) was extreme!  So many dishes I could not wait to try!

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, by far the best thing I learned about on my trip north. (Excluding everything I learned at the Sweets by Maggie Shop)

Flavors from Jeni's treasure chest!

Jeni's Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries Ice Cream. This will be in my freezer by the weekend. It was A-maZing!

Rockmill Brewery- I can't say enough about this brewer, every brew I tasted was...sooooo good.

Our new and old friends! Brian from Gary's Seafood, Chef Brian and Chef Garrett. We knew there was a great chef next to us, but was delighted when Garrett shared his beverages with us too!

Whoop, Whoop!!!  The event was amazing, the Sweets by Maggie table had guests raving….A complete SUCCESS!!! And like after any huge event, it is time to join in the party!

Welcome to The After Party!

The After Party! Good times were had by all!!

 

Steelite International was a sponsor of the Chef competition. The award was a trip to Alinea!! #Awesome! Congrats @Jonathon Sawyer!!!

The After Party! The winning chefs were announced, the volunteers, chefs, participants gathered as a team, broke bread, drank wine and relaxed!

By the end of the evening, with the bustle winding down, I was able to look around and soak in the atmosphere, the friendly faces, all the talent and passion in one beautiful field.  Knowing that all the effort that went into the event was going to fight the rising epidemic of childhood obesity was “icing” on top!

To learn more about Sweets by Maggie, take a look at the http://www.sweetsbymaggie.com website or “Like” them on the Sweets By Maggie Facebook Page.

Chefs Table Site Visit 6.6.11

A few nights ago, we had an event in the kitchen.  Now, we do these Chef Table Experiences fairly often, but so far they haven’t gotten old.

We push the stainless prep tables out of the way, throw down a rug, move our “On Stage” cooking stations into the kitchen, hang a chandelier and put in a dining table and chairs….Voila, kitchen space turns dining space.  Our guests love it, we can seat something close to 30 people, and more if we go the reception route.

Thru the Chefs and Sommelier spieling courses and pairings, we establish a relationship with our guests.  Some experiences are interactive for the group, rubbing truffle oil on pulse points or discovering the Miracle Berry, we create our own Umami. Storytelling and personality keep the crowd engaged and by the end of the evening, the entire staff has connected with the guests, leaving us all with wanting more.

Of course the food is the star of the show, take a look at some of the dishes from the other night.  Then go straight to the kitchen and cook 🙂 Bon appetit!

Truffle Caviar, Mozzarella Basil Salad, Tomato Water

We put a bit of liquid into the bottom of the Nitro Bowl, and add a few dry ice chips to keep the salad properly chilled! Awesome presentation with the fog spilling out onto the table! @kingfarmmyakka

Coconut Smoked Key West Wreckfish, Pepperdew Jicama Slaw, Black Currant Bursts

@thechefsgarden Fiddlehead Ferns are just about done for the season

Braised Mangalista Pork Belly, Garlic Herb Gnocchi, Zellwood Corn Puree, Chive Oil

Braised Pork Belly

Strawberry Nitrogen Sphere, Citrus Foam, Hot Chili Pearls, Smoked Hawaiian Sea Salt. Have to admit, I didn't get to it fast enough to get a good picture- but you can get the idea.

@copperriverwild - Copper River Salmon All the Way!

Sir Ahmed and the Chicken. Could be the name of a storybook, haha!

Chicken feet for tomorrow's soup!

Sous Vide Whole Milk Fed Chicken Breast and Thighs-

Whole Milk Fed Chicken- Leg Confit Stuffed Squash, Sous Vide Breast and Thigh, Scarlet Runner Bean Hash, Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Absinthe Gastrique

Sweet Endings

Everything but the Lemon- This was so good- SOO good!