Chef’s Creativity Shines at Garden Gala

An Interview with Sous Chef Jelani Shaw

Chefs Pieter Dijkstra and Jelani Shaw received two awards at the Garden Gala May 4th, 2018—the Lynne Vea Celebrity Chef’s Choice Award and the 2018 Ciscoe Morris Golden Brussels Sprouts Award. How did they win, you ask?! They prepared a Green Garbanzo Bean Cake with Herb Tabbouleh, Preserved Lemon, Pomegranate Pods and Micro Arugula. Jelani Shaw and the sales team at Foodz tell us a little bit more behind the event, the decor, and the menu.

 

What is the Garden Gala?

Shelby Sewell: The Garden Gala is an annual event held at the University of Washington Horticulture Center in conjunction with a large plant sale. They bring together chefs from various catering companies to compete in the “Herb Challenge.” Each chef creates and presents dishes that highlight herbs and plants being sold. The contest has two parts: popular vote and Celebrity Chef Choice Award. Proceeds from the sale benefit the King County Master Gardeners Association.

 

What inspired you to participate this year?

Jelani Shaw: The opportunity arose and I thought it would be a good chance to show off creativity. I wanted to express my culinary voice and show the food I lean towards. Since America is often referred to as the “melting pot,” I borrowed influences from other cultures and I wanted to create a global dish, but make it my own.

 

How did you come up with the menu items?

Jelani Shaw: Well, being a herb challenge, I started brainstorming different herbs! I knew I wanted to stay away from French and Asian foods, so I decided to go towards a North African, Lebanese inspired dish. I also wanted to keep it Gluten Free because, Hey…we are in Seattle. 

 

What about that menu item was inspiring to you?

Similar to our vegan frittata we serve here at Foodz, I used a chickpea flour, but took it up a notch. I’m trying to do what’s next, not Asian or South African flavors. Therefore, I highlighted and elevated the mainstream North African flavors.

I used *Lebanese 7-spice in the salad and Ras El Hanout in the chickpea cake.

*Lebanese 7-Spices contains equal proportions of the following ground spices: Allspice, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Ground Cloves, Ground Nutmeg, Fenugreek, Powdered Ginger

Did you overcome any challenges?

Jelani Shaw: The flavor profiles and the basic idea. I wanted a pomegranate glaze, but also yogurt lemon dressing. Therefore, Chef Pieter and I decided on a pomegranate seasoning for this finesse dish instead of a glaze to pair with the yogurt lemon dressing. 

 

What was surprising to you?

Jelani Shaw: “That I won!” I didn’t realized it was a contest until the day before. I thought it was only a participation event to support a cause, but I had a good time, it was a lot of fun. Ultimately, I wanted to get people excited about Foodz and what we have to offer.

 

Tell us about the tablescape. How did that contribute to the overall experience for the guests?

Davi Sobotta: Being the creative caterer that we are, part of our creativity is in our tablescapes and decor. The occasion being a garden theme, we wanted to create a whimsical, fun, very inviting experience for the guests.

Our chef was ordering wheat grass, which was the inspiration for a garden path. We also chose a large chalkboard for the menu ingredients, which we had repainted to freshen it up. Oh, and we can’t forget the garden gnome!

Our overall table design started a lot of conversation. Davi said, “It was a sensory experience.”

 

 

Find out more about the Master Gardener Foundation here.

 

Beyond the Sea with Foodz

Beyond the Sea with Foodz

When industry leader Melissa Jurcan, the current ILEA President of the Seattle Chapter, called and asked us to cater this year’s Emerald City Applause Awards I was a bit hesitant.

We catered the event the previous year and I wanted to be sure no one else was being overlooked for the opportunity. Melissa assured me, she wanted US to do it. So, I said yes! I mean – its Melissa Jurcan asking! Once I joined this year’s team, I was excited to discover PJ Hummel & Co. was doing decor and Ileigh Reynolds of Animate Objects Physical Theater was doing entertainment.

Talk about an “A” team.

There would never have been any hesitation had I known! ANY chance I get to work with these superstars I am ‘All In’!

Plus, the event took place at one of my favorite venues Fremont Foundry and Cort Party Rentals — full sponsors. Then there was the whole list of amazing sponsors from Crimson Haze to Fun Frames Photobooth to Caren Morris Photography to BPM Entertainment. The stars aligned for a magnificent event. And, so it was! 

Catering an event for all your industry peers can be extra pressure, but I feel it is an opportunity for my Chef, Pieter Dijkstra, to shine. I wanted him to have an opportunity to “play” and show off new menu ideas, be out of the box, and enjoy the moment. This was not a situation where our sales team or client is driving the menu, so I thought, “why not?” I know that can be risky, try new things on industry peers, but not only do I trust him, I know if he is driving the menu that he is 110% behind its success.

Consequently, he immediately set to work on a menu and we went back and forth, did some drawings of dishes on whiteboards, and focused on “Food of the Future”. This menu concept was the only direction I gave Chef Pieter at the time. “Food of the Future” is a great current trend and something we have focused on recently. Essentially, this concept is based on food sustainability, for example, using ‘Ugly’ produce, coffee flour and plant-based dishes.

However, the first menu did not coincide with the theme of the event. It wasn’t until we had a team meeting at Fremont Foundry where I learned the theme was to resemble a cruise ship, under the sea styled event. So, we went back to the drawing board on some items. We did keep the general idea of ‘Food of the Future’ but also focused on ‘Under the Sea’ menu items.

 

Original Menu

Appetizers

Cornmeal Macaron with BBQ Jackfruit

Entree

Bone Broth Braised Organic Rainbow Carrots topped with Brown Sugar Croutons

Gratin of “Ugly” Portobello Mushrooms and Yukon Gold Potato

Sou Vide Lamb with “Ugly Red Onion” Marmalade and Fresh Herb Salad

Dessert

Rhubarb Custard Tart, Basil Sable, Orange Blossom Meringue, Fennel Fond Caramel Sauce

Honey Chamomile Cake, Candied Pistachios, Bee Pollen, Rose Water Berry Honeycomb, Browned Butter Creme Anglaise

 

Ultimately, the final menu ended up being a collaboration between Chef Pieter and myself. I wanted to be sure we had enough vegan and gluten-free items for all the guests. Also, I added an hors d’oeuvre to the menu as Ileigh, of Animate Objects, created a new costume just for the event that would have a tray to serve food. The style of the tray was not a good fit for the items we had at the time. As a result, I added vegan sushi just for this purpose.

Lastly, I asked for a ‘fun’ way to serve the mini ice cream sandwiches we had planned. Our amazing Pastry Chef, Shannon Lewis, makes fantastic French macarons. Therefore, we decided to make ice cream sandwich macarons using our Anti-Griddle as an interactive element of the event.

Final Menu

Passed Hors D Oeuvres

 Vegan Sushi

 Sushi Rice | Avocado | Mango | Ginger Pickled Carrots | Cucumber | Sriracha Cashew Mayo

                                                                                         

Vegan & GF

Mini Coffee Flour Cone

Maple Carrot Bacon | Micro Lettuce | Cured Tomato | Vegan Aioli

Vegetarian

Calamari Fries

Dynamite Sauce

GF

 

Brussel Sprout Slider

  A beautiful Roasted Brussel Sprout | Beyond Meat Slider Patty | Caramelized Onions | Pickled Mustard Seeds | Served as a Slider.                      Vegan & GF

 

Pre-Set at the Table

Sustainably Harvested Charcuterie of the Sea *

Tea Smoked Black Cod, Pickled  Mussels,

Pine Cured Salmon, Fresh Horseradish, Monkfish Foie Gras, Crispy Salmon Crackers

Emilio Cerrillo Photography

*Chef Pieter was super excited about this dish. He loves Charcuterie plates and making them in-house.

 

24 Hr Sous Vide Octopus*

 Thinly Sliced Octopus, Red Leaf Lettuce Cups, Herbs, Pickled Vegetables, Lemongrass Vinaigrette

* I really wanted and Octopus dish – I mean, what better to represent ‘under the sea!”

GF

Emilio Cerillo Photography

Vegan “Charcuterie”

   Lemon Cashew “Ricotta”| Beet “Pastrami”|Carrot “Corned Beef”| GF Crackers

Vegan & GF

Family Style Dinner

Whole Roasted Fish

                             Whole Roasted Scarlet Snapper, Sea Beans, Shiitake, Furikake Rice                                                

GF

    Whole Roasted Scarlet Snapper

Emilio Cerrillo Photography

Black Garlic Chicken

                       Fried and Roast Chicken | Fermented Black Garlic Sauce | Long Beans           

  GF

chicken

Emilio Cerrillo Photography

Pan Seared Palm ‘Scallop’

Ginger Carrot Puree | Crispy Leeks | Micro Arugula  

 Vegan & GF

scallions

Emilio Cerrillo Photography

Pea Salad

English Peas | Snap Pea | Pea Shoots | Hot and Sour Cucumber Ribbons | Burnt Chili Vinaigrette

Vegan & GF

Pea salad

Emilio Cerrillo Photography

Cauliflower Rice with Togarashi

 Vegan & GF

                                                  cauliflowerEmilio Cerrillo Photography

 Dessert

Chef’s Choice Dessert

Assorted Mini Desserts

Under the Sea Ice Cream Macaron Sandwiches

under the sea macaron

 

 

ECAA Awards 2018

Thank You, Sponsors!
Venue: Fremont Foundry
Catering: Foodz Catering
Decor: PJ Hummel & Co.
Rentals: CORT Party Rentals
Entertainment: Animate Objects
Graphics/Signage: Sunny Umbrella Design Company
Lighting: Crimson Haze
Master of Ceremonies: Wordspark with Jenni Butz
Shoe Shine: Old Style Shoe Shine
Printer: Print NW
Videography: Crews Creative
Audio Visual/Screens: GOBE Productions
DJ: BPM Entertainment
Photobooth: Fun Frames
Photography: Caren Morris Photography

http://www.ileaseattle.com/ecaa

 

 

“All You Need Is Love”

When we sat down with Dani and her team to discuss the February Open House, celebrating the opening of the mezzanine at Fremont Foundry, the first idea thrown out was to focus on a “Love” as the theme. Well, it just so happened I was heading to Las Vegas to see the Cirque du Soleil show “The Beatles Love Show.” And so, the celebration was born. No matter if you are young or old you know the Beatles music. Their iconic sounds have stood the test of time. We can all hum or sing along to most of the Beatles most popular music. They are songs of love, struggle, justice, or freedom. They are a slice of our lives. We love them. For the menu, we focused on certain songs that served as inspiration for each food station. Each idea was conceived during the viewing of ‘The Beatles Love Show’. Most items were “off menu” or new ideas made just for this theme. Photos by Alante Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passed Hors d’oeuvres

Takoyaki Cones with an Eel Sauce and Green Aioli

I love the set of Octopuses Garden and wanted to bring that flowy feeling to this event. I had originally thought about a grilled octopus station, but working with the creative team we proposed the more popular Japanese Takoyaki served in cones. In lieu of a food station, this passed hors d’oeuvre is made whimsical with our blue lit trays and a server dressed in an octopus-inspired steampunk hat and wig.

Beet Hummus Crostini with a Sprinkle of Fresh Rose Petals

Love itself inspired this hors d’oeurve. The color, the texture and the mere thought of roses made this a must-have item tonight. Once we came up with the idea of using records as passing trays we felt we were right ‘on track’. Fun fact – Beets are an aphrodisiac!

 

“Blackbird”

Fried Chicken Wings with Black Garlic Sauce topped with Candied Tangerine over Forbidden Rice with Beluga Lentil Salad & Blackberries

Just that one word and you can hear the music. It’s such a familiar tune. People often learn this song when starting to learn play music – no matter what instrument. While watching this piece performed in Las Vegas, I had a vision to use Black Garlic as the base of the sauce on a Chicken Wing. Bringing this to our Chef and creative team, we have enhanced the basic concept with a forbidden rice salad with Beluga lentils and Blackberries. The dish is then garnished with Candied Tangerine peel, which is a nod to Tangerine Dream, it gives the dish a bright note and a balance of sweet to the heat in the sauce.

 

“Come Together”

Smokey Baby Back Pork Ribs with a Coca-Cola Glaze served on top of beer mac n cheese!

This performance struck me as a peace protest and the pursuit of American dreams. Somehow the coca cola stated here lead me to think of ribs with beer mac n cheese. Nothing could be more American or peaceful – right?

 

“Strawberry Fields Forever”

Mixed Greens tossed with Honey Balsamic Dressing with Crumbled Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Dehydrated Strawberries

Spinach, Avocado, Strawberry Salad with Candied Pecans and a Champagne Vinaigrette

Romaine Lettuce, Strawberries, Sliced Almonds and Poppy-seed Dressing

 

 

Strawberry Fields Forever reminded me of a presentation I have done before with bricks as a pathway and wheatgrass for the ‘grass’. We came up with three strawberry inspired salads and added a tree with hanging long stem strawberries. It really feels like a dreamy field of strawberry inspired love.

 

“Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo) Here comes the sun, and I say It’s all right”

Kimchi and Garlic Fried Rice Sliced Flank Steak, pickled ginger carrots, and a Sunnyside Up Egg! Self-Serve: Soy Sauce, Sambal chili, scallions

I knew right away that I wanted a sunny side up egg at this food station, so I chose one of my favorite rice bowls. Kimchi Fried Rice makes me feel sunny inside. Once sautéed, kimchi loses some of its pungent harshness, but answers back with an addictive, tangy-spicy warmth that deepens with a little time spent sizzling. Kimchi is so flavorful, it makes the perfect fried rice base. For breakfast, lunch or dinner – or anytime you need some sun.

 

“All You Need Is Love – Love – Love Is All You Need”

Red, Pink and Purple Mini Heart Waffles! Guests choose from Vanilla Bean, Nutella or Chocolate/Coconut Ice Cream Toppings: Strawberry Sauce, Chocolate Sauce, Nutella, Whipped Cream, Valentine Sprinkles, Cocoa Nibs, and Crushed Nuts

 

 

All you need is love = Sweet waffles shaped as hearts of course! This ethereal song feels light as air, drifting up like a balloon and dreaming of sweet nothings.

 

The following vendors joined us in presenting our “All You Need Is Love” showcase, inspiring guests for their future events of any kind. A BIG thank you to them!

 

 

Game of Thrones Open House

In September of 2017, our team set out on a quest to deliver a unique experience with an open house inspired by the famed television show, Game of Thrones. View highlights from our event below!