The annual Super Bowl eve dining event Taste of the NFL exceeded its hype, offering a first-class evening of dining and schmoozing
Benefiting Gleaners Food Bank, whose headquarters also served as the event venue. Taste featured chefs from each of the NFL team cities, paired with an autograph-friendly alumni from that town's team. Gracious Carmel native Ted Allen, of the Food Network's "Chopped" was the very social host for the evening, with Tony Dungy serving as honorary chair and the likes of Jeff Gordon, the "Cake Boss" guys, and Miss America Laura Kaeppeler providing enough celeb clout for lots of next-day Facebook profile updating.
The chefs (including Indy's Greg Hardesty of Recess) brought their A-games and didn't display an ounce of jet lag or quality compromise. Journalistic integrity demanded, of course, that I try to taste all of their creations and while I didn't quite reach that goal, I did try enough to place the following in my personal playoffs:
—Nuekse's Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuff with Chorizo courtesy of Rocoo Whalen, chef for Cleveland's Fahrenheit Restaurant. Note to self: Next time in Cleveland, it's date night at Fahrenheit.
—Raspberry White Chocolate Ganash Cupcake from chef Lynne Hackman of Minneapolis' Franklin Street Bakery Cupcakes. These sublime creations made me temporarily forgot that the whole cupcake fad is overplayed.
—Stone Crab Chowder from Chef Allen of Burger Bar in Miami. Some chefs created dishes that seemed to have been gestated by dare. Others took basic culinary ideals and perfected them. Chef Allen was one of the latter and, thanks to him, it's going to be difficult being satisfied by this dish anywhere else ever again.
—Gnocchi with Veal and Pork Bolognese from chef Steve DiFillipo of Boston's Davio's. As much as I hate to admit it, the New England Patriots brought a winning team to Indy, at least on the food front.
And my purely subjective Taste of the NFL winner: The Miami Dolphins, represented, by Chef Allen of Burger Bar.
But, of course, the real winner was Gleaners Food Bank and the generous patrons who attended.
Congrats to all.