African, Middle Eastern fare on Harvest dinner menu
November 4, 2016
Chefs Josh and Whitney Deri of Blend Catering, Reno, join Chef Charlie Abowd in the kitchen for this year's Celebrity Chef & Harvest Dinner, A Benefit for The Greenhouse Project, Monday, Nov. 7 at Cafe at Adele's in Carson City.
"The menu this year is influenced by Charlie's Lebanese roots and Josh's Israeli and Moroccan roots, and is like nothing we've done before," said Karen Abowd, GHP board president and co-owner of Adele's. "I am calling this the barnyard menu, thanks to the array of featured meats … this will be an unparalleled evening."
The six course, beer-or wine-paired dinner raises money to continue GHP operations and began as a tribute dinner to Charlie's father, Paul Abowd, himself an accomplished chef and restaurateur. Rolling it into a benefit event was the next natural step.
"Middle Eastern and North African food naturally lends itself to being what we consider cuisine, simply by being what it is," Josh said. "I have gone to Israel a lot and eaten what my aunts would cook and when my cousin lived across the street, she would fix these big Shabbat dinners; I fell in love with the food and from there began exploring all kinds of foods, and as for the Moroccan cuisine, that has a lot of North African influence.
"Whenever I come up with a menu, I find it always has those flavors and interpretations in them. I began cooking as a young boy, and I use those family influences in everything I do, simply by adding certain spices to whatever dish I am preparing."
This year's offering has been called "The Barnyard Menu," and for good reason.
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"We will be serving a variety of different meats," Whitney said. "And goat and lamb especially lend itself to cuisine without having to change too much."
This unique interpretation has given the couple a unique reputation throughout the region. The couple met while attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and five years ago, began Blend as a food truck in south Florida. They came to Reno for a visit and never left.
"We re-branded Blend about 18 months ago and have been non-stop ever since," Whitney said. "Josh and I have always been about bringing people and cultures together to try to influence the way they experience food … And we've done this by blending flavors and techniques, hence the name."
The two had helped Chef Mark Estee at the dinner two years ago with a sauce and the hors d'oeuvres, so when the request for their participation came this year, both Josh and Whitney happily accepted.
"Charlie messaged and asked if we would like to do this with him," Josh said. "I can't tell you how excited we are to be working with Charlie; we have come up with a cool menu, and the best part is how we have worked cooperatively and together to create it."
The interpretations are evident in the dishes that will be served, Charlie said.
"While we always strive to provide a unique dining experience for this event, we are certainly taking things to a different level in that Josh and Whitney are bringing with them different disciplines," he said. "Style differences not withstanding, this is an exciting menu."
Course sponsors are Barbara and Paul D'Anneo, Lone Mountain Veterinary, Carson City Toyota, Nature's Bakery, Holland & Hart LLP, and Abowd and Rose Financial Group.
Everyone is invited to participate in the additional fund raising by making a donation of any size to the Generosity by Indiegogo campaign, being conducted on behalf of The Greenhouse by Carson High School students Sophie Waite and Shaylin Segura for their senior project: https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/carson-city-greenhouse-project. For more information about The Greenhouse Project, visit http://www.carsoncitygreenhouse.org.
Bisteeya: Moroccan Savory Pastry with Duck (Blend — Josh and Whitney); Duck from Nancy's Green Barn Farm, Dayton; Kale, Chard and Jerusalem Artichoke Pizza (Adele's); Double Stuffed Duck Eggs (Josh and Whitney) from Nancy's Green Barn Farm; topped with pulled pork from Alpine Ranch.
Soup Course: Roasted and Curried Pear and Pumpkin Soup (Charlie, Josh and Whitney); collaboration and product from Glorious Garlic Farm, Washoe Valley and Nancy's Green Barn Farm; Chickpea Panisse with Goat (Josh and Whitney); Goat sponsored by FFA and Bently Ranch, Nevada.
Intermezzo Course: Winter Melon & Green Tomato Gazpacho.
Course: Roasted Kobasha Squash stuffed with Smoked Braised Lamb with a demi-glaze to include raisins/dried cherries (Charlie); Lamb raised by Lillie McKinney, daughter of Matt McKinney, Bently Ranch manager.
Main Course: Entrecote of Strip Loin, (Charlie); Potatoes smoked, mashed and topped with pork butter Bearnaise with chopped pork belly from Alpine Ranch; potatoes supplied by Glorious Garlic Farm.
Dessert: Pistachio Rimmed Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie topped with carrot powder and candied carrot top (Adele's Pastry Chef Miguel Lopez; garnish by Josh and Whitney).