On Tuesday January 6, we hosted our second Chef’s Best event. The purpose of these events is to offer a unique dining experience that breaks convention the right way.
First off, you aren’t burdened with surveying the menu and picking out the best dish. I think we all know ordering for ourselves is futile. We don’t know what we’re doing. We pick items we’re comfortable with, or we overshoot and pick an entrée that contains fancy-sounding ingredients we couldn’t pick out of a line-up. Then we’re plagued by regret as we envy other orders. Instead Chef’s Best allows chefs to cook what they feel best showcases their culinary talents.
For the second Chef’s Best, Chef Chris Rovezzi of Rovezzi’s Ristorante in Fiskdale, Mass. was invited to make a three-course meal of whatever his heart desired. Right away, his heart desired more. He changed the three to a four and he prepared a fantastic four-course meal for us.
Before I make you very hungry by telling you what we ate and how delicious it was, you need to know two more important details about Chef’s Best.
You know how normally you go out to eat with people you’ve met? Well, we’re breaking that convention too. At Chef’s Best there are some Worcester Foodies in attendance but there are also couples and friends who join in to meet new people. That is one of the best parts of the night: dining with people who want to support local businesses and eat high-quality food.
Here’s the second tidbit. You know how normally the chef is a stranger that maybe you’ve stalked on Instagram and Facebook to see what his or her spouse, children, friends, and selfies look like? Well, we’re not going to stop doing that. But at Chef’s Best, the chef comes out and tells you about the dinner as well as his or her philosophy on cooking.
In the case of Chef Chris Rovezzi, he read a passage from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen by a titan of authentic Italian cuisine, Marcella Hazan. He prefaced the reading by saying these words inspired him to become a chef.
The passage read, “All that really matters in food is its flavor… It matters not that it be novel, that it look picture pretty, that it be made with unusual or costly or currently fashionable ingredients, that it be served by candlelight, that it display intricacy of execution, that it be invested in the glory of a celebrated name. Such things may add circumstantial interest to the business of eating… but they add nothing to taste, and signify nothing when taste is lacking.”
He followed up the reading to say, “This basically defines me as a chef. I will never steep myself in the current fads and fashions of the edgy rock star chefs of today’s culinary climate. If my guests don’t find my foods lusty and delicious, then I fail.”
With that, he went back to the kitchen to plate our four-course dinner. The dish he added was The Brussel Sprout Caesar Salad, which is one of the restaurant’s most popular items. When it arrived, we knew why—and we knew his philosophy was accurate. Each element was done well. The brussel sprouts were shredded and cooked perfectly. The dressing tasted great without saturated the other ingredients: focaccia croutons and out-of-this-world shaved Reggiano.
The Grilled Scallops over Pumpkin-spinach Couscous accented with maple gastrique came out next. Chris mentioned earlier that he wanted us to try this popular entree, which is why he served it as a smaller portion of two scallops.
For the main course, Chef Rovezzi prepared Handmade Porcini Mushroom Panzerotti with an Oxtail Ragout topped with imported burrata. These pasta triangles were packed with flavor. I didn’t see a bite left on anyone’s plate.
The Blooming Apple with Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Ice Cream and Rosemary Caramel presented beautifully and was inhaled by most patrons immediately even though we all devoured the panzerotti entirely and delightfully.
While our first Chef’s Best was an outdoor dinner with when the temperature was still cooperating, this Chef’s Best in the dead of winter was timed just right. Rovezzi’s Ristorante is probably wonderful in the summer. However, the cozy atmosphere of the house turned restaurant is a quintessential New England setting for a comforting night out this winter.