Friday, March 1, 2013

Michael Laiskonis Pastry Chef Dinner

We just finished a wonderful weekend at Post Ranch with visiting Chef, Michael Laiskonis.  Chef Laiskonis was the pastry chef at Le Bernadin in New York for eight years and is now the creative director for the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC.  He is an immensely talented chef with an impressive knowledge of modern techniques and an aptitude for teaching. 

On Saturday evening our Pastry Chef, Yulanda Santos and Chef Laiskonis, collaborated on an intimate eight course dinner featuring Chocolate, Citrus and Spice.  The event, held at the Hawthorne Gallery quickly sold out.  Dominique did an incredible job with wine pairings for the evening.  The chefs prepared several savory courses including: a ceviche of geoduck clam, oxtail consomm√©, roasted duck, sea scallops with caramelized white chocolate and a wild radish salad.  These were followed by a progression of intricately crafted pastries, displaying each chef’s artistic talents and personal style.  The dinner attracted people from all over Northern California, including Ron Mendoza (Pastry Chef at Aubergine) and Levi Mezick (Chef at 1833).

Sunday afternoon we presented a cooking demo with Chef Laiskonis at the MEarth Habitat at Carmel Middleschool.  The habitat is a non-profit classroom and garden that teaches children about food, ecology and sustainable living.  The new LED certified classroom was the perfect space for the demonstration, with large windows overlooking the Carmel foothills and school gardens.  Some of the proceeds from the event went to help fund the program.  The demo was open to the public, but Chef Laiskonis’ presentation was certainly geared for food professionals, with a good amount of time being spent of blending hydrocolloids and using contemporary pastry techniques.  Fortunately a majority of the attendees for the sold out event were trained pastry chefs.  We were honored to have several local chefs including: Ben Spungin of Bernardus, Ron Mendoza and Justin Cogley both of Aubergine, Quinn Thompson from La Bicyclette and a number of chefs from the Bay Area.  Chef’s Warehouse generously donated the chocolates used in the event.  It was great to see so much community support for the MEarth Habitat and our visiting chef series.

It was a fun and rewarding weekend, one we hope will be the first of many such events.  We are busy putting together our list of chef invitations – so if there is someone you would like to see invited, please leave us a comment below.