Some of the nation’s most renowned chefs will be in town this Saturday to kick off Broad Appétit by taking part in OFF Broad Appétit. These culinary stars will craft special meals, while local beer, spirits, and farmers will be on hand for a smörgåsbord of local fare.
It’s nice to be friends with nationally-recognized chefs. If you’re Jason Alley, head chef of Comfort and Pasture, not only do you know many talented chefs, but you can invite them to cook a meal for the city…and they’ll actually show up.
“We all enjoy each other’s company, everybody wanted to get together and cook.” Alley’s talking about this weekend’s inaugural OFF Broad Appétit which will bring six nationally-renowned chefs together to help kick off the fifth annual Broad Appétit–the largest food event in the region.
Look who’s coming to dinner
Sean Brock, chef at Husk in Charleston, South Carolina and 2010 James Beard winner for Best Chef Southeast
Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky and challenger on Food Network’s Iron Chef America
Bryce Caron, pastry chef at Blackbird, Chicago, voted Best New Pastry Chef by Food & Wine Magazine.
Dean Maupin of Fossett’s Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia named Star Chefs 2010 Rising Star.
Jen Carroll, chef and owner of Carroll Couture Cuisine in Philadelphia and Top Chef all-star contestant.
Rounding out this group will be Richmond’s own Jason Alley, who was Star Chefs 2010 Rising Star and, in addition to his chef duties, is the main organizer of OFF Broad Appétit. Alley said it was a “natural step to try and do something the night before” Broad Appétit. Not only will guests be able to mingle with the visiting chefs but also drink local beer and spirits.
Pasture staff will clear their dining area, allowing the chefs to work at their own cooking station where they will each create a special dish. However, what will set this event apart from others is access.
Attendees will be able to talk to these renowned chefs about cooking, the restaurant business, or anything at all. Alley said the event will not be “formal or stuffy.” Instead, he anticipates a more relaxed evening, allowing chefs and guests alike to “eat, drink, and talk, and push how awesome it is to be in the Commonwealth.”
One of the goals of OFF Broad Appétit is to highlight Virginia’s (and the nation’s) movement towards a more healthy and sustainable agriculture. Alley says that within the last ten years, he’s seen at least a “tenfold” increase in the number of farmers and locally-sourced suppliers in the region. He said that locally-sourced food is obviously fresher and healthier, and it avoids supporting massive agribusiness. The enthusiasm that local producers bring to their food, one that their customers in turn bring to their respective tables, keeps profits on the rise for local businesses. “There’s a passion there.”
While rumors circulated that the Food Network had plans to film OFF Broad Appétit, as of Tuesday Alley said he had not heard from the network. However, he did say that the Cooking Channel will film at Comfort for “Road Trip with G. Garvin” on Thursday.
Cable TV’s interest, coupled with a gaggle of famous chefs will help to introduce people from all over the country to Richmond, not only as a city but as a hub of contemporary food culture. There are many notable cities pushing the creative boundaries of cuisine and agriculture, with all that’s happening in Richmond, said Alley, “there’s no reason we can’t be a big one…Hopefully, it brings attention to the city.”
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OFF Broad Appétit will take place on Saturday, June 2nd from 6:30pm-10pm at Pasture, located at 416 E. Grace Street. Tickets are $150 each and can be purchased here. Proceeds from the evening will also go to Feedmore.