As we were still coming off our ramen high from the night before, Alli and I headed to the 7th Annual Taste of Culinary at the Hotel Lafayette. The Taste of Culinary is put together by the American Culinary Federation which focuses on up and coming cooks (many of them students) and Chefs from institutions and private venues. This years event featured members from the Seneca Alleghany Casino, Park Country Club, Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, several BOCES programs and many other culinary organizations.
We weren’t sure what to expect, there were some incredibly talented Chefs in the building but this was our first time attending the event. We’ve been to a lot of food events over the last four years and while some are definitely better then others, it’s definitely a struggle to serve massive amounts of food while keeping it interesting.
Here’s some highlights that we experienced at the event…
One of the first stops we made at the event might have also been the best; at Park Country Club‘s table our buddy Chef James Roberts and his gang (gallery) were serving up some impressive bowls of Pork Tonkotsu Ramen. Each mini bowl was complete with pork broth, pork belly, a sous vide egg and chewy homemade noodles. We were lucky enough to get a ‘big boy bowl’ and I promptly shoved the entire thing in my face.
The beef carpaccio (gallery) from Chef Kate Elliot at the Conference Center at Niagara Falls included a tender piece of beef and a nice creamy cheese, I wish I had gone back for seconds. The scallops from Amaretto Bistro (one of the few restaurants in attendance) were simple but fresh and tasty. The kids from the Genese Valley BOCES program were very enthusiast and excited to tell me that the lamb they were serving was raised on campus with a healthy, natural diet.
The group from the Harkness Career Center at Erie One BOCES really impressed us, their chocolate s’more ravioli ended up surprising both Alli and myself and their turkey with jalapeno polenta dish (pictured above) was one of the better dishes I tried that day. ECC was representing pretty well too; their carving station with tandoori salmon and yogurt sauce had a really nice flavor combination. And their dessert shooters with strawberry crumble and pudding (pictured top) were awesome.
Speaking of dessert, the chocolate cake/mouse dessert from the Niagara Culinary Institute was not only one of the most delicious dishes being served at the event, it was also one of the most beautiful (gallery). The rich cake mixed with the whipped cream and the raspberry jam was fantastic. I’m not a big dessert guy, but I’d gladly order this dish at any restaurant.
Foodwise, Alli and I had a really good time at the event and were impressed by a lot of the students, which makes me optimistic for the future of WNY’s culinary scene. Unfortunately, the actual rooms were pretty crowded and trying to eat off a plate while maneuvering through a sea of people was a little tough. That said, we managed to still explore almost every stand and I’m always looking for an excuse to visit the Lafayette Hotel.