Being one that attends a number of food events, both in the U.S. and abroad, my common step-by-step experience usually goes like this: approach tasting table, view dish, hope both in mind and palate that dish's flavor is going to match it's tempting visuals. Unfortunately, at the larger food festivals, there is always the chance of many misses with the hits. Thank goodness for the StarChefs Rising Star Gala and Awards Ceremony, where this is not an occurence that you will ever have to anticipate or experience. After all, the StarChefs team does a thoroughly careful job of selecting and editing the Rising Star winners from a number of shining candidates. At this year's StarChefs Bay Area Gala, the 14 award winners were narrowed down from a list of more than 90 local chefs and other culinary professionals.
Joshua Skenes (Saison) - Little Roots Braised w/Bonito, Carmelized Shoots, Flowers & Leaves
Catherine Schimenti (Michael Mina)- Apricot Mousse, Cherries, & Lemon Verbena
The complexity and details of the StarChef's winning dishes were far more intricate than you would normally see at food festivals serving multiple patrons. If anyone could deliver, leave it to these Bay Area Rising Stars - the next generation of culinary luminaries to bring their bold, courageous dishes to the awestruck audience. Although young in age, these chefs have many years of hard work and experience behind them. Along with a top culinary education, several of these chefs have trained under pioneers such as Thomas Keller, Gary Danko, Daniel Boulud, and Grant Achatz.
John Paul Carmona (Manresa) - Boudin Blanc, Dates & Wild Watercress
Louis Maldonado - Marinated Striped Bass, Petrossian Caviar, Green Strawberries & Brown Rice
From the ultra-skilled Louis Maldonado of Aziza's Marinated Striped Bass, Petrossian Caviar, Strawberries, and Brown Rice to fast rising star Scott Nishiyama of Chez TJ's Moulard Duck Foie Gras "Neige", Blackberry, Cashew, and House-Made Mustard Toast...all you could think of while sampling their dishes were...definitely well deserved and I'll take another one please. Being that Father's Day was just a few days before the gala, it was a heart-felt bonus seeing Chef Maldonado's beamingly proud father smiling ear to ear on the side line of his serving station.
Chef Joshua Skenes and Sommelier Mark Bright (Saison)
Shelley Lindgren (SPQR, A16) - Roasted Sardines & Minted Pea Bruschetta
Gary Hooper of Aquaculture New Zealand w/ Mika TakeuchiJoshua Skenes received the Restaurant Concept Award for Saison - which originally started off as a pop-up restaurant, and now due to its huge demand, will open 5 nights a week. There was also a surprise Rising Star Mentor Award presented to Chef Mourad Lahlou. It will definitely be thrilling to see where all these StarChef Rising Star talents are in the next five to ten years.
Rising Star Pastry Chefs Catherine Schimenti (left) and Melissa Chou (right)
StarChefs Favorite Dish Award - Scott Nishiyama (Chez TJ)
In addition to the Chefs and Pastry Chefs, there were also Mixologists and Sommeliers recognized during the celebrated StarChef Rising Star 2010 Awards Ceremony and Gala. Congratulations to the following for all their skills and hard work:
Matthew Accarrino, SPQR
John Paul Carmona, Manresa
Maximilian DiMare, Wood Tavern
Louis Maldonado, Aziza
Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water
Scott Nishiyama, Chez TJ
Melissa Chou, Aziza
Catherine Schimenti, MICHAEL MINA
Erick Castro, Rickhouse
Brian MacGregor, Jardinière
Sarah Valor, Commis
Joshua Skenes, Saison
Shelley Lindgren, A16 and SPQR
Josh Thomsen, The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa
For more info on StarChefs, visit HERE
photo credit Isabelle Pleno for Food Fashionista