Recently we were looking around on Instagram and came across some amazingly delectable food photos on the account @chefsgardenjax. We saw Chef’s Garden had a monthly dinner club and we decided we had to invite ourselves and see what it was all about. This week I got the chance to join in with Chef’s Garden Catering’s monthly dinner club. Chef’s Garden is a local catering company run by the friendly and clearly very polished mother daughter team of Liz and Jennifer Earnest. They do catering and event planning for weddings, corporate events and social affairs of all different kinds. Each month Chef’s Garden offers a 5 course menu of creative dishes dreamt up by their chef Jamie Evonuik. When doing events Chef Jamie caters to the clients every desire. Monthly dinner on the other hand is Chef Jamie’s chance to try out his new creative ideas on an enthusiastic group of foodies.
Chefs Garden Website: http://www.chefsgardenjacksonville.com/social-event-planning-service-jacksonville.html
Walking up to the event I was a bit confused since my GPS took me to an art gallery. It turns out the dinner club is held in a combination art gallery and kitchen design space. It turned out to be a really beat place to dine. Who wouldn’t enjoy perusing pieces of art between courses? It gave the whole experience a really laid back yet classy feel. The theme of this month’s event was a summer in New England. Each course related in some way to part of New England. The first course of the evening was a bacon poached clam with celery cream fennel and potato. As someone who’s not normally a fan of clams I was blown away by how tasty this was. They used cherry stone clams flown in from Boston that morning. The dish tasted fresh and was not in the least bit fishy or “seafoody” in flavor. Each of the items involved combined for wonderful layers of flavor that are difficult to pull off in an item this small. If clams tasted like this every time I had them clams would be one of my favorite foods.
The second course of the meal was
fava bean and wheat berry salad-grilled romaine, black olive “soil”, pechytoe crab, brown butter vinaigrette topped with a coddled farm egg. With this dish it was amazing how much the little bit of “olive soil” on top of the salad added a tremendous amount of flavor to the entire dish. How could what looks like olive dust add so much flavor? I don’t know, but it made the salad. The egg yoke gave the salad the feel and taste of being closer to an entree than a salad which we loved. The grilled romaine was so much better than standard romaine. The dressing was mild and the perfect match for the olive flavor the olive “soil” on top have the entire dish. This one definitely wowed us.
The 3rd course was Vermont Heritage Pork with Maple Mustard glaze, leek cheddar soufflé, calvados, and black walnuts. Wow! Just…..wow! Like most people leeks are just okay for me. They’re not something I’d walk into a restaurant and look for but if they end up on my plate that’s fine. If this leek soufflé were offered as a side I’d choose it over potatoes every single time. The pork was incredibly tender. The maple mustard added a nice mild taste with the maple flavor being more noticeable than the mustard which was perfect for the flavors involved in this dish. The black walnuts finished things off by adding a crunch and a different texture to the dish.
The 4th course of the meal was Maine lobster ragout with sweet corn potato hash, golden tomato relish, Champagne hollandaise. Lobster is always a treat. As with every other dish we were served all of the flavors matched beautifully. The lobster was delicious. The champagne hollandaise added fullness of flavor. The corn added some needed sweetness and the potato hash provided a nice base that showcased all of the other flavors.
The 5th and final course of the event was Boston Cream pie brûlée, with caramelized blackberries and mint. This was a cool take on Boston cream pie. I’m not a huge fan of Boston cream pie and I actually enjoyed this so that’s saying something. The blackberries were such a drastically different flavor than the cream pie that they didn’t make a lot of sense to me with this one. Also, the caramelizing seemed to simply have taken some of the punch out if the flavor of the blackberries but didn’t accomplish much other than that. Regardless this was an interesting take on a classic dessert.
Between the first and second course of the meal Chef Jamie put on a cooking demonstration and taught the attendees how to cook one of the courses. He also offered to share the recipes for all the dishes by email with anyone who’d like them. I was impressed with how willing and open he was to share all his recipes and also stop and discuss each dish with anyone interested.
All in all we were really impressed with Chef’s Garden Catering’s Monthly dinner club. Each dish was a beautiful and polished fine dining creation. Their choice of venue was fabulous and they kept things moving along at a nice pace. If I were looking for a caterer or event planner this guys would be at the top of my list.
Dinner club runs $65 per person. If you’re interested in attending Chef’s Garden Dinner club in the future email firstname.lastname@example.org . In our case they comped the meal since we were coming to write about the event. I’m confident that in this case it in no way effected the food or service we received. As usual, when a meal is comped we’re under no obligation to write something favorable about the meal.