Recently I had the pleasure of joining Zeke Wray, the Talisker Restaurant Collection Executive Chef, as he and his team of culinary pros prepared a chef’s tasting menu at a private home in Salt Lake City. The dinner was donated by Canyons and Talisker to benefit Taste of the Wasatch, a 100% volunteer organization that raises funds to fight hunger in Utah. The couple that hosted the dinner could not have been more gracious hosts. They opened their home and entertained eight of their friends for what turned out to be a delicious and intimate evening.
Using the Crete Islands to inspire the menu, Chef Zeke played on the host family’s Greek heritage to create each course. Each course was carefully paired with hand selected wines. The raw artichoke and beet salad was perhaps my favorite course – and I don’t even like beets! Roasted in soil unearthed at Canyons, the beets were sweet, salty and perfectly earthy. Next, the bean soup with crispy pork belly garnish made me swoon but crispy pork belly generally makes me do that. The cuttlefish was sliced to mimic calamari and quickly sauteed with olive oil and pearl onions – wow! The guests raved about the meatball course. It was Chef Zeke’s play on Spanakopita: an all-pork meatball served with spinach aioli, red pepper confit and feta milk. To top off an amazing evening, dessert was a lemon olive oil cake with candied cucumber and yogurt ice cream – as Zeke reinterpreted the traditional Greek tzatziki sauce.
The hosts and their guests are no strangers to chef tastings. They’ve traveled together as a group to at least three other wine pairing dinners throughout the west. From a small winery in Oregon to chef tastings with Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller respectively. True foodies, they glowed about both the food and the wine. They declared it was an incredible night to be a part of!
Here are some photos of the evening: