DAYTON EATS: Dayton chefs unite for first-time fundraising event

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Earlier in October some of the top chefs in the Miami Valley came together to create a first-time seven course dinner experience together under the description “Dayton Chefs United.”

The event was created by the chefs to raise funds for a career Miami Valley restaurant professional who, because of sudden and long-term physical health issues, found themselves in need of financial help.

The restaurant professional in question was not named, but that wasn’t the point. The focus on the Oct. 9 event at Meadowlark Restaurant was chefs coming together to create great food benefiting a worthy cause.

The group called themselves “Dayton Chefs United” at the event, and it was clear throughout the evening that they were united and enjoying every minute of creating something so special together. The seven chefs brought creativity and passion to the table and plates of the 150 people who were lucky enough to purchase a ticket before it sold out shortly after going live.

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Here’s a look at what was served up and who was helming the course:

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Liz Valenti, Wheat Penny Oven and Bar: The first course was a crispy fritto misto, or a “fried mix” in Italy with lightly battered and fried calamari, shrimp, broccolini, fennel and lemon with a lemon-calabrian chile aioli. It was an airy, light, zesty way to kick things off and a special dish that Valenti clearly loves to create. Chef Liz: Please bring this to the Wheat Penny menu — it was phenomenal!

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Adrian Madrigal, Loose Ends Brewing Co.: Chef Madrigal’s pear and purple endive salad was a thing of beauty with each plate coming out dressed to impress with an eye-catching presentation of baby greens, shaved vegetables, Gorgonzola, bacon, sunflower seeds and the pear and purple endive with a smoky maple vinaigrette. Absolutely lovely.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Dave Rawson, Meadowlark: Rawson chose to create a dish where creamy, soft delicata squash took center stage with shaved and roasted Brussels sprouts, tahini, pomegranate molasses and dukkah, a Middle Eastern blend of nuts and spices. This was a fall comfort food dish that brought big, warm flavors that you wanted to cuddle up with.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Zack Weiner, Jollity: This small piece of shiso-cured tuna with avocado puree, orange, puffed rice and ginger was an elegant amuse-bouche bite sized hors d’oeuvre that arrived in the middle of the meal after the three beginning courses. It was whimsical and easy on the eyes.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Dana Downs, Roost Modern Italian: The Duck confit crespelle, a thin soft Italian version of a crepe was a savory butternut squash, ricotta, pilot light onions, brown butter and frizzled sage. It set the tone perfectly for the next two courses and like so many of the dishes Downs creates, hit all the right notes.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Maria Walusis, Watermark: It was impossible to pick a favorite course in this parade of terrific dishes, but the cumin-spiced pork loin on a corn griddle cake with apple butter demi-glaze, pickled red onion and shaved radish had a play on flavors that was excellent and much appreciated as the meal was coming to a close. It was a really terrific dish that put focus on what Chef Maria can do playing with textures tastes that deserve to be relished and enjoyed.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

• Chef Margot Blondet, Salar: Salar’s course was a lucuma mousse, pecan pavlova croustillant butter cookie served in a jar. Lucuma is a South American fruit that has a creamy citrus flavor with sweet hints of caramel with a flavor that reminds you of a custard. It’s known as the “God of the Incas” in Peru and is featured in many dishes, including being the No. 1 flavor of ice cream in Peru. This was light and delicate and an enjoyable end to a memorable meal.

The meal itself was noteworthy for the collection of fantastic dishes that were rolled out one by one, and to see the chefs and the restaurant staff members coming together and having such a good time, but also because Chef Elizabeth Wiley announced this will be the first of many “Dayton Chefs United” meals to come that will benefit good causes. She wasn’t sure how frequently it would be but shared they plan to at least make it a yearly event.

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I am consistently blown away by the big hearts and unending passion put on display by restaurant industry professionals across the region. So many of them bring everything they have to the kitchens and dining rooms where they work. This was a beautiful display on their day off of just how much they care and put out there to help support others. Each restaurant paid for the course they created and all the bar sales were donated back.

I love the quote by the well known grief counselor, Alan D. Wolfelt: “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.”

Food has the power to bring people together for the greater good, to improve life and to improve lives. These united chefs of Dayton clearly know that and the love was felt. I can’t wait to see what they decide to do next.

DAYTON EATS

Turn to us every Sunday in Life & Arts for the latest menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes, and culinary adventures brought to you by contributing writer Alexis Larsen. Bon appetite!

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