"EDI" Centerpiece Carved by Chef Sam Ung
Last Thursday Roger and I were invited by our dear friend, Naomi Kakiuchi, to attend a benefit dinner and auction for EDI (Executive Development Institute). Why write about this here? This event not only supports a great cause, it offers unique inspiration for table décor and interesting food and wine pairings.
The event is held at Sodo Park by Herban Feast. You might think that an old warehouse doesn’t have much to offer as a setting for an event. Well, think again! As we arrive at the door, we are greeted by the festive music of Mexico. Inside the venue, the tables are draped in vivid colors of magenta and purple, and topped with edible centerpieces hand carved out of watermelons, and filled with chunks of the melon in addition to strawberries and grapes.
The long table to the side topped with creamy looking cakes, intensely dark chocolates, and cupcakes topped with swirls of frosting, captures my attention. Not just because of the desserts. It’s the shiny rhinestones affixed to a tropical leaf in a floral centerpiece that catches the eye. That’s something worth trying at home! Moving on, brightly colored paper umbrellas dangle from the ceiling. Then, umbrellas become piñatas. Each aspect of the décor is a nod to the Asian Pacific and Hispanic participants in EDI’s program.
Dessert Table with Bejeweled Centerpiece
So is the food. While the crowd roams through the silent auctions, several different appetizer stations offer small bites. Each station is manned by a chef and a crew from a different restaurant.
In one corner, Executive Chef Diego Castroviejo of Taberna del Alaberdero offers a clever Bonbon de Foie Gras. This elegant appetizer looks deceptively like a chocolate coated wafer cookie. It is indeed topped with chocolate, but that creamy filling is foie gras!
At another station, Chef Joey Serquinia, Executive Chef of Harvest Vine, serves slices of Tortilla Espanola Con Crujiente de Jamon Serrano. In other words, that’s a potato onion omelet wrapped in crispy Jamon Serrano with piquillo pepper foam, cut into rectangles then speared on a stick and served like a savory lollipop.
Chef Sam Ung, Executive Chef and Owner of the Phnom Penh Noodle House served Sweet and Spicy Shrimp on Baguette. This is hands down the hubby’s favorite of the night. My apologies if he didn’t leave enough for the rest of you!
Chefs from Harvest Vine and Naomi
Dinner’s menu was prepared by Executive Chef Dalis Chea. The first course was a spicy ginger mandarin slaw. The main course was a plate including cilantro crusted halibut and chimichurri beef. A unique shitake-asparagus tamale with mole was offered as a vegetarian alternative. To maximize the variety of food we get to taste, the hubby and I typically each order a different option, as we did on this occasion, then share each portion.
A chenin blanc was the white wine choice of the evening. Admittedly, Roger often refers to this variety as chenin blah. It’s just not to his taste. This was one of those wines, however, that while not necessarily something I would drink on its own, was a terrific pairing with the shrimp appetizers, as well as the halibut and the tamale. If you haven’t given chenin blanc a try recently, consider giving it a another chance at your table.
The next time you’re at a special event, I hope you come away with inspiration for your next gathering at home. I know I always do.