Tuesday, April 10, 2012

RAW: The Great Toronto Tartare-Off!

I have learned over the past two years that a Grapes For Humanity event is a successful event! Always full of imagination (do you remember a Chocolate Wine Fantasy at the Four Seasons?) and talent, Grapes For Humanity continues to successfully merge the worlds of food and wine while raising funds for those in immediate need. Recently Grapes For Humanity held another successful and exciting event, RAW: The Great Toronto Tartare-Off, to raise funds to build a high school in Guatemala. Held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, RAW brought together some of Toronto's hottest chefs and even a chef flown in from Yellowknife to battle for the title of King or Queen of tartare. With an impressive judging table including my personal favourite, Geddy Lee from Rush (rock stars will always be my favourite!), the pressure was on to create the most impressive meat, seafood, or vegetarian tartare to go along with its paired wine.

New to the world of tartare, I decided to put all of my inhibitions aside and try every single tartare and wine that RAW had to offer. Although I found myself a bit tartare'd out after getting through about 60% of the pairings, my newfound appreciation for the raw culinary creations kept me driven to try them all! Although La Palette had the most striking presentation at their table, with handmade rustic branches delicately holding cones filled with Venison Tartare, it was Epic's Wild Boar Tartare that really caught my attention! Yes I had my personal favourites, but it was up to the judges to make the final decision of who would be crowned the winner in both the amateur and professional chef categories. Out of the four amateur chefs participating, it was Paul Pender of Tawse Winery (you may remember Pender for being named Winemaker of the Year at this years Ontario Wine Awards) who had the honor of claiming the top spot with his Traditional Beef Tenderloin Tartare (I do recall going back for seconds at his station!). Out of the many very talented professional chefs, Lorenzo Loseto from George was the standout, taking the top spot of the evening with his beautiful Cobia Tartare topped with skewered crispy potato chips. I absolutely loved the flavour of Loseto's Cobia Tartare, but it was the textural contrast from the crispy potato chips that really made the dish stand out. Totally and completely tartare'd out, with a nice little buzz in me from the many fantastic wines that I tried, I went home excited about all of the new raw dishes I can now say I have tasted!

Listening To:
The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

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