I'm not actually doing a "recap" in which I describe every single thing I ate course by course in excruciating detail and how it made me feel about myself. My official recap is that I went to this dinner in White Lake where there was so much talent in one room, it was unfair to all other rooms. There were the six chefs - James Rigato, Nick Janutol, Andy Hollyday Michael Barrera, Brennan Calnin, and Nikita Santches - but there were also some serious wine and cocktail gurus: Joe Robinson of Bailout Productions, Antoine Przekop of Great Lakes Wine and Spirits, and Sommelier Evan Barrett from the Plum Market wine team led by Master Sommelier and HBIC Madeline Triffon. Plus many more area chefs, booze hounds, food and wine writers, and restaurant owners who either came to help out the six stars of the evening or just came to eat. And a wonderful time was had by all.
There were a lot of intentions with this dinner, which you can read about in more detail in my interview with Chef James Rigato here, but one of the major highlights was the emphasis on collaboration. After the dinner, as the boys all kicked back with some beers and shot the shit with each other basking in a job well done, Jessi Patuano, Rigato's right-hand woman in the kitchen at the Root, came out and chatted with me for a bit. What really struck her was that strong sense of collaboration in the kitchen: here there were six hotshot young chefs and every last one of them checked his ego at the door. As soon as each one was done with their own course, they were right there on the line asking the next guy how they could help him - no ego, no showmanship, no solitary lone wolves, just total solidarity. And that was the whole point.
Here is the full menu from this event, including wine and cocktail pairings. To keep the element of surprise throughout the meal, the menus weren't presented until the end of the dinner, given to guests as a parting gift.
Tickets to the next event on February 23 go on sale at noon today. Get on it. This is an experience unlike any other in Michigan. [UPDATE: This event sold out in 21 minutes.]
And once again, below is the complete series of interviews I conducted with each participating chef leading up to this event. Give them a good read. These guys really put their hearts and souls into these answers and put so much more thought and effort into them than I ever could have asked for or expected. Afterwards, talking with chefs individually or with their girlfriends privately, I found out just how much of themselves they put into this and, you know, at the risk of sounding insincerely sentimental, it was touching. Many of these guys stayed up until 3a.m. after working 12+ hours, taking hours to make sure their answers were just right. This is all them, 100%. Metro Detroit's Young Guns. Nikki's Boys.
James Rigato, The Root
Nick Janutol, Forest Grill
Andy Hollyday, Selden Standard and Roast
Brennan Calnin, Imperial
Nikita Santches, Rock City Eatery
Michael Barrera, Streetside Seafood