OMG Red Velvet was, in a word, wonderful. Ten of Boston’s finest chefs and bakers came together on Tuesday in the spirit of community, giving back, and of course, dessert. Attendees got to enjoy red velvet-themed creations from each chef, with proceeds going to local food rescue organization Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls founder Ashley Stanley spoke about how the Boston community encourages people to act on their ideas, and allows startup organizations like Lovin’ Spoonfuls to flourish. Lovin’ Spoonfuls performs food rescue, meaning they pick up food from restaurants and grocery stores that can no longer be sold and deliver it to soup kitchens and local crisis centers. Ashley spoke of the two problems that exist, widespread hunger and exorbitant food waste, and how absurd it is that so many people in the United States go hungry when we have more than enough food to feed them. Lovin’ Spoonfuls bridges that gap and serves as the vehicle by which the reclaimed food is brought to those in need.
Photo (and many below) courtesy of Allison Pharmakis http://allisonpharmakis.com/
We could not think of a better beneficiary of the event and were honored to hear from Ashley. Then of course, there were the desserts, which were nothing short of stellar. They were fun, delicious, and very creative.
First up were Sportello’s red velvet macarons. I was beyond excited about these. I have previously proclaimed my love for Sportello’s pastries, in particular, their macarons and their red velvet cupcakes. The two joined forces and became the red velvet macaron.
Two sizable red shells sandwiched a filling of cream cheese frosting with a candied pecan on top. It was enormous with the tender shells giving way to creamy but not too heavy frosting. It only reaffirmed my love for Sportello’s sweets.
I met Nicole, the always smiling General Manager of Sweet, about a year ago in preparation for CupcakeCamp and I was delighted to see her on Tuesday night doling out Sweet’s red velvet cupcakes. I personally am a fan of Sweet’s red velvet. The cake is moist and just dense enough to hold up to the mound of sugary cream cheese frosting on top.
Chef Keenan Langois of Union Bar and Grille set to work immediately torching the meringue atop his red velvet cakes filled with chocolate mousse and covered in a chocolate ganache. You don’t often see red velvet accompanied by such a wealth of chocolate and it was nice to see a nontraditional, and very decadent, take on the dessert.
Speaking of nontradtional, my favorite local ice cream makers, SoCo Creamery, were on hand with a red velvet cake batter ice cream that had bits of cream cheese frosting mixed in, as well as their popular vanilla bean and dirty chocolate. I am usually not a fan of cake batter-flavored ice cream, but theirs won me over. Like all of their ice cream, this one was ultra creamy, without a cloyingly sweet cake batter taste. I never would have expected to see cream cheese frosting in there but I certainly enjoyed it.
I first met Brian Poe last spring at the Chefs in Shorts event, shortly after I started this blog. He was serving a grilled strawberry shortcake kabob that was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Not only was his dish noteworthy, but Brian was a pleasure to speak to, taking the time to tell me about how he thought up the dish and about the new weekly menus he was creating at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake.
For Tuesday, I knew I could expect something wildly creative from him. He assembled individual bites of Chipotle Red Velvet Moon Pies filled with Frosting and topped with Chipotle infused Taza Ganache and Minted Jalapeno Sugar. Quite possibly the most unique dessert of the night. I loved that he made it into individual bites, because tasting all the components at once was the best way to experience and appreciate the flavors. The frosting was sweet, the cake was intensely smoky, the chocolate was rich and quite spicy and the sugar was refreshing.
Hungry Mother pastry chef Rachel Polonsky, pictured below, came up with her own take on red velvet macarons, creating a two layer filling of vanilla frosting and rich chocolate ganache. The bright red shells were moist and chewy and two-layered filling created a lovely flavor and texture combination.
Susu and her team from Susu Bakery joined us all the way from Wellesley and brought quite the assortment of treats including red velvet cupcakes with both cream cheese and chocolate frosting, and heart shaped brownies.
My favorite of theirs though, and one of my favorite items of the evening, were their red velvet cinnamon sugar donut muffins. I already know that I am a fan of donuts and ice cream, and I created possibly most delicious combination of the evening by topping a donut muffin with SoCo ice cream.
The lovely bakers of Flour presented us with these adorable mini red velvet cupcakes with vanilla frosting that was then dipped in chocolate.
Will Gilson of Garden at the Cellar and Linda Hein of the chocolate tarte rounded out the group of ten chefs.
I tried Linda’s red velvet cupcakes at her shop in Somerville last summer. When I asked her if she’d like to participate in the event, she jumped at the chance to offer her best-selling red velvet cupcakes. Tiny morsels of fluffy cake topped with an ultra smooth buttercream frosting.
He drenched the chicken in a red velvet breading and topped each piece with a “frosting” of bleu cheese sauce and “sprinkles” of sesame seeds, chives and espelette pepper. Many people welcomed this savory interlude among the wealth of sweets.
A real treat towards the end of the evening was getting to meet chef Tiffani Faison, formerly of Rocca and Top Chef fame, and Mary Dumont of Harvest and Iron Chef America fame.
This event totally exceed our expectations and we have so many people to thank. We cannot thank enough the attendees who came out to support Lovin’ Spoonfuls, the chefs who so generously donated their time and resources to share their culinary delights, as well as Signpost and HowAboutWe. And to Christine for being an awesome planner and doer. A big thank you to Aaron, Aimee and Nicole of Flour and the rest of the Flour staff who stayed late to help out, in addition to our fabulous team consisting of Josie, Katherine, Trish and Christine. Thanks also to LAZ Parking for graciously hosting the chefs for the event. And finally, a shoutout to Ashley for starting up such a vital organization in Boston. We hope to continue to see it grow and flourish. If you would like to learn more about Lovin’ Spoonfuls or make a donation, check out their website, http://www.lovinspoonfulsinc.org.