Dubuque (Iowa) G&CC’s Executive Chef Chad Myers teamed up with local chefs to raise money for their community.
The life of a club chef is a daily grind. We work day in and day out. We work weekends, holidays, and nights. We work when others play. Attending a school function for our kids is hard. Getting home just in time to tuck them in is more the norm. So what is the payoff? What are we working toward? When do we feel like all of the blood, sweat and tears will be justified?
To be honest, I think those moments of validation are rare. Instead, I look to the passion I have for food, cooking and my club to get me through the day-to-day. I constantly feel the adrenaline rush to be better than yesterday and the humility that comes with knowing that I can always improve. There is always something more to learn, some other way to make a dish taste or look and some other chef to push me to greater heights.
But even though the drive to do more and be more is always there, there are windows of time where I have to step back and feel proud about what I am doing and how I am doing it. I had one of those moments on October 10th in Dubuque, Iowa. It was the 2nd annual Resources Unite Chefs Unite Charity Dinner.
Last year, my wife, Billie, and I partnered with Resources Unite, a local nonprofit, to create a multicourse dinner with all proceeds going to Resources Unite. I reached out to some of my friends in the industry to come together at Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar for the dinner. Last year, there were five chefs and six courses. This year, there were seven chefs and seven courses. We also had my friend from high school, Victor Kuper, who is a certified sommelier, do some wine pairings. A local brewery River Ridge Brewery was also there to give some beer samples. The menu was as follows:
2nd Course: Nick Altringer (Sous Chef of Saffron Restaurant in Minneapolis) created a fall-inspired Aglonotti pasta with a tableside pour of sauce.
3rd Course: Shawn Cooper (one of my friends from culinary school in Minnesota) created a Sea Scallop Kobocha risotto with tempura-bacon jam, toasted pine nuts, pomegranate and lemon agrumato.
4th Course: James Beard nominated Chef, Jonny Hunter of Forequarter in Madison, Wisconsin created a chicken consomme with chicken and masa dumplings and parsley oil.
5th Course: Barry Greenberg (Executive Chef of the University of Iowa) created a Grilled Pork Secreto with Potato Puree, Local Butternut and Apple Chutney, sided by Candied Rosemary Pork Belly.
6th Course: I did a lamb tenderloin dish with Wild Mushroom and Truffle Terrine, pickled salsify and fennel, beet puree and truffle vinaigrette.
7th Course: Kevin Scharpf (Owner/operator Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar in Dubuque) did a 45-day Dry-aged Iowa Premium Beef New York Strip and Beef Cheeks duet.
What I really loved about the event is how seven chefs who have never worked together as a team came together to create a seven-course meal with volunteer servers in an unfamiliar kitchen. We served 50 people and we did it very well.
Having that level of professionalism, artistry, and passion gives me goosebumps. Could we have improved? You bet, but knocking out this level of food in one day together is awesome.
The dinner does 2 things. First, we get to raise money for an amazing nonprofit. And second, (for me anyway) we chefs get to do what we love with seven other chefs who love it equally. We created a menu that rivals any restaurant in the country. That’s something to be proud of. It’s a moment to savor. It’s a moment to evaluate and then look forward as we raise the stakes for the next time.
I don’t know if there is a way to thank these guys for uniting for this cause and creating moments like this. Magic happens when people can come together and showcase what they love to do for a great cause. Life is all about finding what you are passionate about. Whether it’s creating food, studying wine, playing music, giving great service, making beer, or creating opportunities for people to help others. This event is what it’s all about. And it has inspired me to push myself even further and create an even a better experience next year.