12 December 2016 – Ernest’s

Eleven Madison Park tribute dinner

December 12th, 2016

Inspired by the great 3 star Michelin Chef Daniel Hum’s amazing cookbook and an incredible dining experience at his restaurant, Eleven Madison Park in New York, the idea to prepare an eight course dinner for 40 people was put forward to the EGDC. A Christmas event was suggested and it was explained to all that it would be a challenge. However, we had confidence in the group that they were more than capable. The EGDC members were divided into eight teams of 2 and assigned specific courses months in advance of the event. As each team surveyed its part of the menu it became obvious that we would have to source key ingredients, prepare sauces, jus and stocks and test the recipes at home well in advance of our event. We assigned mentor chefs Sonny Sung, Alberto Alboreggia, our executive chef mentor, Chris Hrynyk, all from the Sorrentinos group, to help the teams with difficult to manage issues such as sourcing key ingredients and adjusting or enhancing flavors. These mentor chefs also explained the importance of timing in the kitchen as we would be plating for 40 people on a set schedule. Lastly and, with presentation being such a key component, they critiqued our plating efforts. The test dinner event on November 28th at Sorrentinos was essential to gauge the readiness of each team and appreciate the complexities of preparing and plating each course.

The presentation of such a fine dinner needed to be complemented with top notch service and facilities. NAIT’s Brent Murton and Vinod Varshney made sure we had well trained and outstanding staff. To help with the service details Paul Doucette of the Sawmill group agreed to oversee and help train the entire team of 12 at Ernest’s dining room at NAIT.

Wines used at Eleven Madison Park were largely unavailable locally and substitutions were made; likewise there were some ingredients which were either not available in Canada, such as edible flowers and or a specific cheese from Switzerland. Otherwise it was a fine effort by all to source unique and most acceptable substitutions. .

The result of our combined efforts was outstanding and it was quite possibly the finest dinner ever served in Edmonton. Everyone enjoyed eight incredible courses, wonderfully plated and impeccably served. The best part of the evening for all our chefs was the new found appreciation for just how much work and skill it takes to create and present such a stunning, complex and professional dining experience.

In my mind the entire project was a learning experience and in the end most enjoyable. So many culinary experiential stories were told that evening that I thought we should capture them and include them here so we don’t forget the best parts of this most transformational event of the EGDC.

– Stewart Roth

Posted in 2016