This past Sunday I was lucky enough to be able to take part in a Pop-Up Dinner hosted by my good friend Devin Agosto. Devin had been considering hosting this dinner for a while and after plenty of planning, was finally able to bring his idea to fruition.
The Pop-Up Dinner was successfully held at Frankie Rowland’s Steakhouse in Roanoke, Virginia. Many people showed up to the event including my girlfriend, Anaka; my parents, Ginger and Jimmy Doran; several of Devin’s family members; some of the wait staff that works with Devin and I at Frankie Rowland’s; and of course, myself.
Many people helped Devin pull off this amazing event and wonderful dinner. Helping in the kitchen were Alex Jesse, Daryl Johnson, and our head chef Charlie Brown. The wait staff included Hunter Johns, Natalie Dilley, and Katie Brown. Everyone who helped Devin out did a great job and I hope Devin gets the opportunity to have another dinner with a bigger audience.
The meal served consisted of five courses and was more or less like a tasting dinner. Pop-up dinners are for young and old chefs alike and are used to show off the chef’s skills in creating and preparing a meal and showing those skills in a professional enviroment, whether it be to strangers or a group of friends and family!
Here is the meal Devin prepared for us:
Hors D’oeuvres: Roasted Carrots with Scallops and Oranges
The first course that came out was a smash hit. Seared scallops in a pesto sauce with roasted carrots and oranges topped with black sesame seeds. All these flavors worked so well together: the sweetness of the carrots and scallops, tartness of the oranges, and the fullness of the pesto worked together to create a great and flavorful dish to behold!
Potage: Duck tortellini in a Duck Consommé with a Charred Pickled Onion
The next course that came out was the soup course. Little handmade tortellinis stuffed with duck and spices were surrounded by a duck consommé, enhancing the flavor of the duck tortellinis. The charred pickled onions were a nice touch that helped cut down the richness of the consommé and duck while providing a bit of tart sweetness to the dish.
Salade: Charred White Asparagus with Lemon ricotta, a Sous Vide Egg, and Arugula
This course was a game changer for me. This salad course went from sweet and salty to acidic and bitter, changing with each bite. This dish pleased every taste bud and prepared me for the next course. The charred bitterness of the white asparagus and the acidity of the ricotta cheese complemented each other well, similar to how bacon and chocolate go together. The egg, the fat component, tied everything together and provided an amazing delivery system for the whole dish!
Entrée: Arctic Char with Wilted Cabbage, Turnips, Potatoes and a Bur Blanc Sauce
This Arctic Char dish won Devin Student Chef of the Year for Southern Virginia, and I must say rightfully so. The Arctic Char was perfectly cooked, topped with crispy skin, and paired excellently with potato stuffed cabbage, and turnips. I would describe this dish as bit bitter yet sweet with a hint of spice. The crisped skin on top added a new texture that was amazing to say the least. If I could, I would love to have this dish every night of the week!
Dessert: Roasted Pineapple with Lime Curd and Coconut Ice Cream
Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits and to have it for dessert was a delight! The super tartness of the lime curd and the pineapple makes you pucker while the sweetness from the homemade ice cream eases the taste buds to make you want to come back for seconds. The perfect way to end a delicious meal!
Devin and his team worked hard for this opportunity and it seems to have really paid off. This Pop-Up Dinner was well executed in the most amazingly flavorful way! Although the people Devin cares about most were there, I hope when he does this again he’ll get to invite even more people and have a wider audience. Good job, Devin!
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