Service is important. Atmosphere is great. But a great meal really comes down to the skill of the chef. The best waitstaff ever and the swankiest decor cannot make up for subpar fare.
South Florida has no dearth of distinguished chefs. The question is not whether you can get a great meal; it's which restaurant to pick.
In a couple of weeks, Savor Tonight and Bistro Ten Zero One are making it easier to choose a dinner location. They're hosting the Ultimate Chefs Dinner, with one menu prepared by eight of the region's best chefs, including Dean Max and Lindsay Autry.
Taking place Wednesday, October 15, at 7 p.m., the dinner includes seven courses by Max, Autry, Jason Connelly of Sea Level at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Eric Grutka of Ian's Tropical Grille, Twenty Twenty Grille's Ron Weisheit, Darryl Moiles of Four Seasons Palm Beach, Bistro Ten Zero One's Steve Torbron, and 3030 Ocean pastry chef Huma Nagi.
"For the theme, we're focusing on what's fresh and local," says Savor Tonight's Katherine Lynch. "Our goal is to raise awareness of what restaurants in the area you can go to and enjoy local, fresh ingredients. The event will actually start out in Bistro Ten Zero One's onsite garden and then move into the dining room."
The meal will begin with canapes prepared by Max and Connelly and proceed to a sit-down dinner paired with wine. Each chef is taking turns in the kitchen by preparing a course.
Here's the menu and accompanying wines:
- Canapes (by Max and Connelly) with Maschio Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
- Dean Max: Roasted pumpkin soup shot with rock shrimp, chilled oyster and pomegranate mignonette, tuna crudo with apple fennel slaw
- Jason Connelly: yellow beet ravioli (goat cheese, pistachio, and apple cider vinaigrette); edamame hummus with crab, feta, and togarishi; jerk octopus with mango aioli and micro cilantro
- Eric Grutka: "Umami Lobster" (miso creamed corn, arugula, strawberries, macadamia nuts, soy lime ginger sauce) with K Vintners Viognier, Walla Walla, Washington
- Lindsay Autry: Cream of celery soup (toasted freekah, celery root, country ham, dill) with Sebastiani Chardonnay, Sonoma, California
- Ron Weisheit: Twenty Twenty Tagliatelle (duck confit, chicken confit, caramelized cipollini onions, oven-dried tomatoes, baby arugula) with Drouhin "Lafôret" Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France
- Darryl Moiles: Hog Snapper (Key West shrimp, golden raisins, tomato conserve, caper berries, leeks, baby fennel, lemon pesto) with King Estate Pinot Gris, Eugene, Oregon
- Steve Torbron: Togarishi dusted Kurobata pork chop (caramelized pear, quail egg, winter park white cheddar grits, lemon thyme jus) with Chateau Mont Redon-Rouge, Rhone, France
- Huma Nagi: Open face tangerine and pink grapefruit cream tart (carambola ginger chutney and coconut crunch) with J Lohr "Bay Mist" Riesling, Monterey, California
Although Lynch has organized many chef-centered dinners in the past, this one was put together with help from Max. After a conversation about the local culinary scene last year, Lynch and Max teamed up with Bistro's previous chef, Chris DeGweck, and one of Max's protégés, Jeremy Ford, for a team effort.
This year, however, Lynch and Max decided to go big, bringing in a slew of local talent.
"Dean and I had brainstormed a list of who we thought would be fitting, and it's stayed pretty close to that," says Lynch. "We did add Ron Weisheit from Twenty-Twenty Grille to the mix, whose name might not be as well-known as the others, but he's doing some incredible things, and it's a place that the locals need to know about. We'll also have two chefs -- Lindsay Autry and Dean Max -- cooking at the event. You can't go to a restaurant and enjoy their food at this time, so it will be a special treat."
The cost to attend is $115 (all-inclusive) if purchased by October 12 and $125 thereafter. It includes the six-course dinner with wine pairings, tax, and gratuity. Visit facebook.com/events.
Bistro Ten Zero One is located at 1001 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-1234.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.