Last night Examiner.com had the chance to attend Lexus' Culinary Masters Dinner at Animal celebrating chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's induction into the elite group of chefs from around the country. Visiting Culinary Master Michelle Bernstein paired up with the inductees to prepare a dinner consisting of both Animal staples, and her own creations.
After champagne, appetizers that included both tartare and pâté, and a brief introduction: guests sat freely and the first of eight courses (with wine pairings!) was brought out. The menu:
- Red beets, yogurt, blackberry, hibiscus, shisho (Animal)
- Middle Eastern cucumber, gem (lettuce), avocado, boquerones (Michelle)
- Fried oyster, smoked potato salad (DELICIOUS), ramp (see: onion, leek, garlic) mayo (Animal)
- Egg, bouillon, Italian sausage, fried broccoli, garlic bread (BEST EVER), toro de oro pepper (Animal)
- Shrimp, squash blossom, cheese grits, Tabasco shrimp nage (Michelle)
- Fennel & rye-dusted sweetbreads, carrot miso, brussel sprout (Michelle)
- Dry-aged beef, onion, creamed corn, chanterelle, balsamic brown butter (Animal)
- Chorizo & chocolate cremeaux, plum, Pedro Ximenez, tcho aleppo strussel (THIS DESSERT WAS FANTASTIC. NEVER HAS CHOCOLATE AND MEAT BEEN PUT TOGETHER SO WELL!!!) (Michelle)
As one would expect from Animal, the meat in every dish was done perfectly. Flavors, texture, presentation. The addition of Michelle's more vegetarian/pescetarian-centric plates made for a balanced tasting that represented the different skills of Lexus' Culinary Masters.
After a two-hour dinner, Examiner.com left feeling stuffed (but pleasantly stuffed - thanks Michelle!), a little tipsy on wine pairings, a new fan of Animal, and so appreciative of Lexus for the invite! Last night's dinner benefitted Common Threads - a non-profit organization that teaches children in underserved communities how to cook wholesome meals in a curriculum-based after-school program.