Fresh Faces at Sky City

October 5, 2012

The “Fresh Faces of the Future” tasting menu kicked off at the Space Needle’s Sky City restaurant on October 1, and boy, was it delicious!

Fresh Faces partners professional chef  instructors and students from Seattle’s most esteemed culinary programs with SkyCity Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield. Each group prepares one original dish to contribute to the five-course tasting menu.

It was fun to see long-time Seattle culinary authorities including Linda Pal Chauncey, associate dean of Seattle Culinary Academy (SCA) at Seattle Central Community College, and Will McNamara during the evening. I first met chef McNamara years ago when he was working at Place Pigalle in the Pike Place Market. More recently, he served as exec chef at the Washington Athletic Club, and is now sharing his wisdom with students at South Seattle Community College (SSCC).

The other schools represented on the menu are Seattle Le Cordon Bleu and FareStart.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the month-long tasting menu ($62 per person) will benefit each participating school’s scholarship fund.

Views from Sky City were gorgeous, especially since we arrived at 6:45 p.m., right around sunset.

The Fresh Faces menu was colorful and inviting. . .

As was our first course of Potato “Pinxtos” (Saffron Scallops, Coriander Lox, and Fennel Mojama) created by SCA student Claire Elise Mitchell. The dish was adapted from an award-winning tapa Claire created using Northwest seafood and produce as inspiration.

Next up? Roasted Wild Mushroom Salad, an intriguing juxtaposition of duck rillettes and a dinosaur kale salad rife with chanterelle mushrooms. Douglas-fir gel balls added an interesting textural touch. This dish was created by Varin Keokitvon from FareStart.

Chef McNamara offered up the evening’s third course, and perhaps my favorite: Dry-Rubbed Seared Scallops, spicy good with Moroccan-style garbanzo beans, grilled peppers, spinach, and Charmoula dressing. Chef McNamara feels that, within the next 50 years, the African continent will become a major player on the world stage. His dish was an ode to flavors from those countries.

Sky City’s chef, Jeff Maxfield, served up the evening’s main course–Hay-Roasted Carlton Farms Pork. Because I don’t eat pork, he was nice enough to substitute my favorite protein, wild Alaskan salmon.

The kingly fish danced atop the plate along with black garlic, beet spaetzle cake, creamed collard greens, and huckleberry jam. Chef Jeff describes hay roasting as an old European technique in which meat is roasted in freshly harvested hay; his spaetzle cake was a modern twist on a classic dumpling; and other parts of the dish inspired by home-style canning recipes passed down through the generations.

Richard Carpenter and Brian Figler of Le Cordon Bleu gifted us with an exceptional seasonal dessert. Jones Orchard Apple Financier was accompanied by artistic squiggles of Whidbey Island Port syrup and dressed with cardamom crème Chantilly. Ooh-la-la!

We chose to drink one of Sky City’s featured Winery of the Month wines, a crisp, well-balanced  Woodinville Wine Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that partnered perfectly with each and every course. Had we wanted red, the menu also included Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Little Bear Creek Red Blend.

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