Last night was the Premier Chef's Dinner that the Magnolia Guild of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center puts on. If you haven't been, you are missing out. Truly. Team Photogenic took good pictures that I'll post as soon as they are live - but for now, you can see through the lens of my camera and get a glimpse of this fun evening.
To start, there was a cocktail hour in the reception room. Mr. Hedin attended and reported back on the appetizers - his favorite was a Dungeness crab roll topped with spring herbs made by Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy.
While he was eating appetizers and drinking wine, I was touring the kitchen and chatting with chefs. Unlike last year, the kitchen was the epitome of calm. I would guess that most chefs had prepared most of their dish ahead of time and were just plating on site.
As an Iron Chef and Top Chef fan, I was hoping for more of a frantic scene. Something straight out of the TV with people hollering and running about. No such luck. However, as a fan, I was excited to meet Daisley Gordon from Campagne whom we watched on Iron Chef. Sadly, Bobby "I win all the time" Flay beat him despite my feeling that Chef Gordon's menu was superior. I also got to chat with Robin Leventhal who competed on Top Chef - she fed me cheese and pickled raisins. So delicious.
There are photos of all of these things - just at Team Photogenic waiting to be uploaded.
When it was time for dinner, we moved into the main space at Sodo Park by Herban Feast for a lovely four course dinner. The tables were really simply set with bread, a few sprigs of wild flowers, and an abundance of wine glasses.
Chef Grant Achatz, world renowned chef and cancer survivor spoke about his experience with cancer and the parallels he found in his own kitchen. As a chef, he deconstructs common "rules" around restaurants and the way food is presented, prepared, and served and looks at things from a new perspective. When presented with his options for curing his own cancer (tongue! Can you imagine anything worse for a chef?!?) most places could only give a very traditional solution - one that would not work for him (I imagine it was removing his tongue). He refused such treatment and sought out a solution that would deconstruct the common "rules."
The ability to look at research from a new perspective and deconstruct the common approach to cancer care is one of the things that sets the Hutch apart from other centers. Raising money for research is vital to allow the doctors and scientists the flexibility to think outside the box.
Kicking off the evening with Chef Achatz reminded us all why we were there - to raise money and to eat amazing food.
And then dinner began...
Despite the fact that it was a four course meal, we got to eat eight plates of food. Yes, you read that right, eight. As in 8. I got a different plate than Mr. Hedin and the idea was to switch after a few bites. We did with some plates - we did not with others... Surprisingly, I wasn't as full as I was anticipating - not sure if pregnancy was to blame - but everything was lovely.
1. Shaved Coeur d'agneau with Fava Beans, Ramps and Spring Onions
2. Fois Gras Terrine with Rhubarb, Sorel, and Burnt Rose Hips
3. Copper River Salmon with Fermented black beans and daikon salad
4. Hot smoked Copper River Salmon with seven elements of spring
5. Duo of Jones Farms Pork Tenderloin and Shoulder with Morel Mushrooms and White Asparagus
6. Simmered Beef Rib with Marrow Mustard Toast and Spring Vegetables
7. Ripened Cheeses
8. Rhubarb and Celery Mille-feuille with Salted Hazelnut, Powdered Caramel and Fennel Ice Cream
The best part of the evening was the fund raising part. Because the money raised was helping Pancreas Cancer Research, Dr. Sunil Hingorani who is leading the research department for Pancreas Cancer spoke first - extremely intelligent, well spoken, and hot. Followed by a couple who had lost a loved one to Pancreas Cancer.
Pancreas cancer is an extremely aggressive form of cancer that has been - up until now - completely unresponsive to treatment. Dr. Hingorani has lead research that has lead to discovering a form of treatment that seems to be able to combat the disease.
The couple I spoke of, who lost a loved one to Pancreas Cancer, matched donations given last night - up to $150,000 - to propel the research efforts at the Hutch. Amazing. Last night raised more than $500,000 for Pancreas Cancer research. If you didn't have the warm fuzzies from the food - then that should have done it. More than a half of a million dollars. In a time when the economy still seems to loom large in peoples minds, it's amazing to see the generosity that still abounds.
If you are interested in getting involved with Fred Hutchinson and the research being done at the center, click here. There are dozens of events coming up!