Why? Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala!

Saturday night was a truly extraordinary Cleveland night, filled with great chefs, wonderful food, and a beautiful setting. Matthew and I attended the Autism Speaks Cleveland 2014 Chef Gala, thanks to Cleveland Chick.

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Held in the stunning Cleveland Museum of Art atrium, this event brought together 20 Cleveland chefs for a tasting event prior to a celebrity cooking and dinner presentation by hometown favorite Chef Michael Symon and his friend and “The Chew” co-star Chef Mario Batali.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before Chefs Symon and Batali took to the stage, we had the opportunity to sample stand-out dishes from 20 of Cleveland’s best chefs. And in a nice surprise: the program included recipes for each of the dishes we tasted.

The chefs brought their A games for this event! Some favorites of the many delicious dishes we sampled:

Hamachi crudo with white soy ponzu, pine nuts, radish and cilantro from Fahrenheit

IMG_8113Bison tartare with duck egg gribiche, shiso puree, and spiced salt from AMP 150

IMG_8115Goat cheese and leek tarts with duck confit and fig from Driftwood Restaurants and Catering

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Ricotta panna cotta with tomato mousse from Coquette Patisserie

IMG_8120Heirloom tomato and watermelon consomme from SowFood

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Strangolapreti alla Trentina from Trentina

IMG_0099and Goat Cheese Sunday from The Cheese Shop.

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After absolutely stuffing ourselves, it was time for Chefs Symon and Batali to take to the stage to prepare a four-course dinner: heirloom tomato salad with feta, cucumbers, mint and dill; agnolotti with basil pesto and pomodoro sauce; braised shortribs with soft polenta and pickled chile salad; and the Lola S’more.

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Chefs Symon and Batali have great chemistry and humor. Watching and listening to them prepare the meal was a treat in itself!

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While higher-level donors got a full, plated dinner and some lucky bidders got to sit on stage with the chefs, all attendees were able to try tasting-sized portions of all the celebrity chef dinner courses. This was a really nice touch that allowed all donor levels to feel connected to the event.

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Aside from the ridiculous amount of amazing food, there was also a silent auction that raised $26,000 for Autism Speaks! Matthew and I walked away as silent auction winners with a Step 2 wagon, a family membership to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, tickets to the Zoo’s Circle of Wildlife Carousel, and tickets to the Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Animal Attractions event!

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It was a truly elegant and delicious evening for a wonderful cause! And it was another reminder of how Cleveland’s chef community, even those who are well-known on a national stage, come together with their time and talents to help others. We are truly lucky to not only have an extraordinary food scene, but also such caring people in it!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Cleveland Chick to attend the Autism Speaks Cleveland 2014 Chef Gala in her place, in exchange for blogging about the event. I received 2 complimentary tasting tickets to the Chef Gala. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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