The season finale of the Chef’s Circle 2012 series was set up to be a great presentation, and the Executive Chef Billie Raper of Hotel Roanoke did not disappoint! This year Chef Billie, along with his sous chef, Conner Johnson, really wowed the audience with a fantastic cooking demonstration.
The guys kicked off the morning with a delicious refreshing beverage they named ‘Cherry Cloud’, focusing on Murray’s local cherry cider, sparkling apple cider, and a little dash of heavy cream. This delicious Cherry Cream Soda was a huge hit with the crowd and really set the stage for what was to come. Chef Billie and Conner rolled right into a Fresh Apple Slaw, using apples and cabbage from the market vendors, and a dressing made from reduced apple cider. This fresh summer salad was the perfect complement for the next two items on the menu.
The Southern Style BLT took things up a notch, starting with the grilled Sourdough bread, herbed mayonnaise, arugula lettuce, thin Virginia bacon, and topped off with a fried green tomato. This was thought to be the hit of the season…until the Chef Billie moved on to a grilled chicken dish, topped with savory peach sauce. Using fresh peach jam, purchased at the market, along with fresh cilantro, fresh peaches, red wine vinegar, and a few other seasonings, this marinade / sauce on top of the grilled chicken was amazing – the crowd begged for seconds!Finally, Chef Billie and Chef Conner wrapped up the 2012 season with a fabulous jam tart – so quick and easy, and topped them with a fresh whipped cream. The perfect ending to a perfect season.
Chef's Circle fan favorite Jeff Bland returned to the kitchen on August 11 with a very familiar face in tow. Jay Webb, WDBJ-7 meteorologist and the host of “Weekend Diner,” helped whip up three dishes for boisterous crowd that had a great time interacting with the two personalities. Bland first put together a refreshing Watermelon Agua Fresca drink that went very well with the shrimp appetizer he surprised the audience with to get the presentation started.
The executive chef for US Foods then put together a tasty Crab and Corn Salad with Melon Vinaigrette. Cantaloupe fresh from the Salem Farmers Market was combined with honey, red wine vinegar, honeydew melon, olive oil, fresh mint and basil to provide a nice bonding agent for the fresh crab, roasted corn and heirloom tomatoes. The seafood dish was served with lettuce and tortilla chips.
Bland and Webb then literally threw everything but the kitchen sink into their “anything goes” pastry pudding. Oreos, apple pie, cupcakes, honey buns and a menagerie of ingredients made up what turned out to be a heavenly treat! Check out the recipes in our 2012 recipe section!
The executive chef for Kroger Mid-Atlantic opened up the month of August at the Chef's Circle with a highly entertaining and informative presentation. Steve Alls, a Glenvar native who has cooked everywhere from Salem to Hawaii, took advantage of the fresh fruit on the Salem Farmers Market to deliver two tasty treats for the audience.
Alls, who is the host of “Cookin' with Kroger” the program that airs on WSET every other Sunday morning, began the day with a very tasty non-alcoholic sangria. The peach and nectarine concoction also featured a little basil, lemon and lime juices, agave nectar and ginger ale.
Alls then continued the peach theme by making a delicious peach Melba dessert complete with vanilla ice cream and an awesome raspberry, lemon sauce that also featured a touch of red pepper flakes. He made sure everyone knew that “raspberries and peaches are home boys!”
Alls also answered a number of questions from the audience related to his favorite foods to knife selection to the proper way to prepare a steak. Check out his recipes in the 2012 recipe section.
The largest crowd of the season turned out at the Chef’s Circle on July 28 as Roanoke College chefs Bob Prophet and Matt Phillips turned back the clock with a 1970s staple that is still a crowd favorite today. The popular duo whipped up both a dinner and dessert crepe for each of the more than 120 members of the audience. As a healthy contingent of co-workers from the college looked on, the chefs used fresh ingredients supplied by more than 10 of the market’s vendors to produce a hot crepe loaded with chicken, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, and a menagerie of fresh herbs and spices. Each one was garnished with cherry tomatoes and a balsamic reduction drizzle.
The chefs then whipped up a cold crepe that featured a filling made of fresh peaches and blackberries. All of the crepes were made from scratch and each one was topped off with a small scoop of “Froyo” – a refreshing and surprisingly easy to make frozen yogurt. The chefs also took care of the young kids in attendance by providing them with the old fashioned “Push-Up” ice cream treats, which were a huge hit.
Bob and Matt also helped the adults in attendance beat the heat by providing three delicious beverages – a cantaloupe cooler, Arnold Palmer iced tea and an out-of-this-world iced coffee!
Chef Chris Parkhurst of Firefly Fare showed the crowd that you don’t need much time or elaborate planning to impress your friends and family. On short notice Chef Chris came prepared with a delicious and tart peach limeade that set the tone for a fun summer morning. He then sliced heirloom tomatoes and topped them with toasted walnuts and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes and the result is a tasty summer dish, which Chris had prepared ahead of time.
He then took colorful potatoes and sweet onions from Greenwood Farms and created a flavorful dressing using sour cream, mayonnaise and stone ground mustard. This warm salad was a crowd pleaser that had everyone requesting the recipe.
Firefly Fare is located in the Roanoke City Market Building in downtown Roanoke. They focus on fresh, locally sourced food that is healthy and affordable. Their farm-to-table mission is the perfect compliment to the Chef’s Circle and the Salem Farmers Market.
One of the Chef Circle’s most popular guests, Chef Michele Carder, took over the kitchen during week number three of the Chef’s Circle. The former owner of “Michele’s on Main” told those in attendance that she loves trying to guess the ingredients restaurants use in their recipes. To that end, she whipped up some palate pleasing Chicken Nuggets that she marinated in pickle juice…just like the big boys do! After dipping these in a light coating of Autry’s breading, she deep fried them in peanut oil and served them with sliced carrots, celery, squash and a splash of Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce. The Sweet Chili Chicken Salad was a big hit!
Michele, who is now the executive chef at Salem Terrace, then whipped up a seasonal “Berry Delicious” layer cake for dessert. After slicing a sheet cake in two, she spread a mixture of cake icing and whipped cream in between the layers along with fresh strawberries and blueberries. Once the top of the cake was put back in place, more icing and more berries completed the tasty treat.
Salem’s own Chef John McCrady proved that the summer heat was no match for what he cooked up in the kitchen. A great crowd came out to enjoy the Chef’s Circle, and Chef John did not disappoint. He started the demonstration with a delicious fresh raspberry lemonade beverage. While the samples were distributed, John moved right into a fantastic shrimp and cheesy grits medley. Using fresh mushrooms, herbs, and bacon, John created an aromatic rue that was the ideal base for the shrimp and grits.John wrapped up the event with a fresh and creative summer pasta salad. Using fresh broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spiral pasta, this cool salad was a meal in itself. Chef then whipped up a unique and flavorful vinaigrette dressing that complimented the vegetables and pasta perfectly.
Chef Jeff Bland of US Food brought his “A-game” to the table with an energetic presentation that had the crowd eager for samples. With a quick introduction to quinoa and couscous, Chef Jeff proceeded to demonstrate how to think outside of the box and utilize these items in both an entrée and dessert! Using fresh produce, along with local goat cheese from the Salem Farmers Market, a wonderful main course salad was created, perfect for a summer-time meal. By switching up the cooking process and including orange juice and coconut milk, the couscous blend was topped with vanilla custard and fresh peaches. The flavor and texture was perfect for a warm summer day.
The third item, risotto Milanese, introduced saffron to the Chef’s Circle. Chef Jeff created an aromatic dish that had the crowd salivating well before the samples were even ready. This item was really more of a base that could be enhanced in a variety of ways, including the addition of mushrooms, asparagus, or spinach. Chef Jeff Bland kicked off the 2012 season by setting bar high for our upcoming chefs!