Sunday night Madison was invited to just such an event. A benefit potluck for the Second Harvest Food Bank at Sardine. 20 of Madison's best chefs made dishes for the event which were served buffet style at stations throughout Sardine.
Dan Fox served Mangalitsa Pork meatballs, from his homegrown sounder. They were one of my favorite bites of the night. For the most part he took a phenomenal ingredient and just got out of it's way. A little piece of Pork crackling on the side added a crunch and a focus on using the whole animal.
Tori Miller brought another popular dish, braised lamb Frito Pies. The lamb was cooked down until it fell apart and became more of a liquid then a solid.
This is a high end version of a very simple dish, often served as a "Walking taco" by adding taco ingredients to small bags of Fritos. I have my own version of this dish which uses Berkshire Pork Carnitas. The Hook's 10 year cheddar gave a great sharp bite to the whole dish.
Patrick DePaula from Salvatore's Tomato Pies brought (of course) Kimchi jigae, AKA, Kimchi soup. This was a favorite of mine. This artisan of the Jersey Tomato Pie also makes his own kimchi. The soup was loaded with bits of pork and warm, but not very spicy kimchi. As they said at the booth, this is Madison after all.
This was one of the more interesting aspects to the potluck, chefs could step out of their boxes and make food that didn't necessarily fit into their restaurants, explore new flavors, new ingredients and new techniques. Tori Miller, the Korean chef owner of French and Asian inspired locavore restaurants made frito pie, and Patrick DePaula of pizza fame made a Korean specialty which is seldom seen in Madison.
There were over 20 chefs and restaurants involved with this potluck, each of whom brought a dish to share. Each were amazing and there were a lot of highlights, Pig in a fur coat's bread pudding was complex, warm and incredible. Some people took the Potluck staples like tater tot casserole and made it with wild mushroom and grass fed beef, others like Nostrano went way out on a limb and made a panna cotta with an aspic suspending caviar and a rye chip.
Chef's were pushing themselves, their foods, talking and learning from one another. This was the original idea proposed by Gilbert Altshul, Local chefs have a lot to share with one another, open discussion can make for some phenomenal collaboration and creation.
Chef Altshul sampled 3 caviars as a teaser for a clandestine caviar service which will be located at Gib's Bar on Willy Street when it opens at the end of March.
I am already looking forward to next year's MACNweek. Maybe we'll get lucky and they will make it a full MACNmonth.