At our Portland Pub seven of the best chefs, from what is undoubtedly becoming one of the best food cities in the country - Portland, paired their best with one of our beers to benefit Morrison Child & Family Services. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges. We’ve done this before starting three years ago, after the pub opened. That year was, without question, the best beer dinner I’ve ever attended in my 24 odd years in “the business”. Subsequent years have met and/or surpassed that expectation.
This year the pairings were:
- Gavin Ledson from Davis Street Tavern (last year’s winner) prepared Pork Jowl Bahn Mi paired with Chainbreaker White IPA.
- John Eisenhart from Pazzo Ristorante made Veal Cheeks with Moscato, Candy Cap Mushrooms and Savoy Cabbage paired with Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
- Sarah Schafer from Irving Street Kitchen made Spice Seared Scallop with Pork Belly, Black Eyed Peas and Bourbon Mustard Jus paired with The Stoic.
- Jeff Usinowicz from our own Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House prepared Dry Aged Baby Back Ribs with Tart Cherry BBQ Sauce, Yam Goat Cheese Croquettes, Roasted Onion Salad paired with Armory XPA.
- Paul Bachand from Recipe made Hand Formed Duck Fat Sope with Crispy Duck Carnitas, Smoked Hazelnut Mole & The Abyss Crème Fraiche paired with The Abyss 2011.
- Jason French from Ned Ludd prepared Turkey Confit with Polenta, Hazelnuts and Pickled Cranberries paired with Jubelale.
But wait, that’s not all! Not competing (but maybe should have) Jill Ramseier from our Portland Pub made dessert in the form of, Burnt Sugar Cube, Espresso Crusted Beignet with Fresh Squeezed Vanilla-Orange Sorbet paired with Bitter Orange Cream Ale! Whoa!
I think you will agree the menu looks amazing! The night was MC’d by Chloe Houser from Fox12 (PDXTV).
Add to that, joining me at the judges table was Tracy Howard with Imbibe Magazine, Steve Body, blogger for the Seattle PI’s The Pour Fool blog, Sal Zizzo, local soccer star and food cart owner, and Celebrity Chef Caprial Pence.
What a night! A capacity crowd enjoyed the meal but also a very public proposal from a couple who had flown all the way from Tucson, Arizona just for the dinner. After dinner as our MC was making the rounds interviewing guests about dinner, John grabbed the microphone and asked Melissa to marry him. Of course, she said yes! Just one more Deschutes Brewery love story with a happy ending!
At the end of the competition, the judges' ballots were tallied, as were the guests' for the People’s Choice award. Who knew? For the first time ever the ballots came out the same with our own Jeff Usinowicz being the winner! Wow, what a night. I couldn’t have been more proud!
Next year’s Chefs Challenge is not to be missed. This is honestly the most ridiculous beer dinner ever. And all for a good cause.
See you there!
- Gary Fish