Big Red event at Charlie Palmer at the Joule brings in Top Chefs
Location: Charlie Palmer at The Joule
Pegasus News reviews Big Red
« Return to News & Events
by Teresa Gubbins
DALLAS — Chef Charlie Palmer hosted a high-wattage celebrity chef competition as part of Taste of Big Red, a weekend of charity foodie events at the Joule Hotel.
The weekend fest also included a Texas wine tasting on Saturday afternoon and a gala dinner on Saturday night. For the chef competition, he drafted three famous chef friends: Dean Fearing from Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton as his partner, vs. Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame. The brothers have a strong Palmer affiliation, having both worked at his various restaurants, including Aureole and Dry Creek Kitchen.
With game meat as the theme, the two teams created two courses, appetizer and entree, as a crowd of about 60 sipped wine and ate passed snacks such as tuna sashimi and Diver scallop. During the cooking, the crowd, which included Texas winemakers and a fair share of Dallas media, volunteered questions to Palmer at the Joule manager Eman Chowdhury, who served as emcee.
The Voltaggio brothers were the big draw, but their ability to cook and talk at the same time paled next to the more seasoned Fearing and Palmer, who've both logged years of cooking classes and TV shows. The Voltaggios, especially the more stoic Bryan, admitted to nursing a hangover from the previous night, as did Palmer at the Joule chef Scott Romano.
But Michael exhibited some personality, professing his love for the pressure cooker as a handy kitchen tool, and tweaking the other team's maturity by saying, "We're going against, what, 80 years of combined cooking?"
He said that the Top Chef producers pulled a trick on him and his brother. "I went in for casting, and they asked if I know Bryan, whose restaurant had just won a James Beard nomination," he said. "They said, 'We just want to congratulate him,' but sure enough, I get to [the Top Chef premiere] in Las Vegas, and Bryan is there."
As Fearing worked on a bowl of Brussels sprouts, he told the crowd that separating them leaf by leaf eliminated the stronger flavor associated with cruciferous vegetables. He said he loved to braise meats because it makes them moist and tender.
When someone asked what his favorite barbecue place was, he said Sonny Bryan's -- but that's because he's such a sauce nut.
"For five years, I'd go down to Sonny's and he wouldn't give me the sauce," Fearing said. "I'd go back and try to replicate it at the Mansion, but I couldn't get it. I'd go back and say, 'You got a little lemon in there?' Finally he gave me the recipe, and it turned out he was doing all this stuff, using a stock that went on all night. Here's this barbecue guy and he's making the most complicated sauce in the world."
Both teams used rabbit for their appetizers. Fearing & Palmer concocted a crepe filled with braised rabbit, while the Voltaggios did "rabbit three ways." For the entree, Fearing & Palmer did venison with berry sauce and the Voltaggios made duck. Alas, the judges, a panel of three that included Cathy Barber from the DMN and Pat Sharpe from Texas Monthly, took the wishy-washy route and proclaimed a tie.
"I feel like I'm on Dancing With the Stars," quipped Fearing.
See the full story and more photos here.