The weeks since Chicago Gourmet have been absolutely surreal. Coming away from the Bon Appétit event, I began noticing a shift in viewership and response to SMAK. PR agencies began reaching out to me to attend media dinners, companies began contacting me for product reviews.  It has been an incredible blessing to start seeing the fruits of my labor. There are days where I question whether or not anyone besides my parents truly follow the blog. So getting an email from the Executive Director of Chicago Gourmet has definitely been proof that I am moving in the right direction.Celeste

Liz emailed me a few weeks ago inviting me to attend an underground event that Chicago Gourmet was hosting with Steve Dolinsky, the Chicago ABC 7 food reporter. I jumped at the opportunity and was able to make some wonderful connections as a result.

The dinner was titled QuakerUp! and was sponsored by Quaker Oats. Many people choose to eat oats in its breakfast form, oatmeal, but the goal of the evening was to step away from that connotation - to use oats as the inspiration for other meals and dishes. Andrew Moltz, Quaker Executive Chef, used this opportunity to develop innovative recipes that proved oats are anything but old-fashioned. In each of the five courses, Andrew utilized oats in phenomenal inspiring ways...

Crispy Oat Dough

CRISPY OAT DOUGH crisp oat dough, prosciutto, gruyére, fig

Griddled Oat Cake

GRIDDLED OAT CAKE griddled old-fashioned oats, peeky toe crab, mascarpone, chive

Oat Panelle

OAT PANELLE candy onion soubise, fines herbes, oven dried tomato, frisée

Steel Cut Oat Risotto

STEEL CUT OAT RISOTTO santa barbara spot prawn, whipped müller yogurt, chanterelle mushroom

Oat Blis Maple Ice Cream

OAT BLIS MAPLE ICE CREAM popped groat brittle, hibiscus poached pear, candied rosemary

I would be very pressed to say that one dish stood out more than the others. Overall, I was amazed at how well each dish featured oats and complimented the previous dish. The succession was impeccable. But, I won't leave you high and dry with no juicy details...

  • The Griddled Oat Cake was the first surprise - as Andrew put it, it was a deconstructed, or upside-down, crab cake. The flavor of the crab, paired with the oats and mascarpone was incredible.
  • My favorite (yes, I just forced  myself to choose) of the evening was the Steel Cut Oat Risotto. I am a huge advocate for any type of risotto, so when a chef presents a twist on this classic, call me impressed. The oats were cooked to perfection and the tanginess of yogurt added a very unexpected, yet delightful flavor and texture.
  • Finishing it off was the Oat Blis Maple Ice Cream. To this day I am not even sure how Andrew managed to utilize oats in the ice cream. That is something I am still trying to understand. All confusion aside, the dessert as a whole was perfect - the crunch of the groat brittle, the creaminess of the ice cream and the sweetness of the hibiscus poached pears. Nicely done.

A Very Special Thanks To: Liz Sorrentino, Executive Director, Chicago Gourmet Steve Dolinksy, Chicago ABC 7 Food Reporter Andrew Moltz, Quaker Executive Chef