Eat like the stars: Sundance chefs offer recipes for your own parties

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 27 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

"Sometimes you get all these well-known celebrities in one room, and the icebreaker is that the chef is the biggest celebrity there," Griswold said.

"People like Keanu Reeves, they can't say enough when the chef comes over to their table, they say that the dinner was remarkable, thank you very much."

The couple try to invite chefs who are well-known but also approachable and pleasant.

"This is the opposite of 'Hell's Kitchen.' We've all heard about chefs who are demanding and difficult."

Actor Bill Murray was among the dinner guests when Simon cooked Friday night. The chef owns Simon at Palms Place and Cathouse, both in Las Vegas, as well as Simon L.A.

This was Simon's third invitation to Chefdance, he said in a phone interview a few days beforehand.

"I have a lot of friends involved with Sundance, and I like the feel of the evening," he said. "It brings a lot of people together who can just cool out and enjoy themselves. It's a good vibe, and while I'm working, I get to observe all of it taking place."

But it's also a challenge to navigate the traffic and snow, and obtaining particular ingredients.

"But I've figured out some of the difficult parts of it," said Simon. "I bring a lot of my own products; we're driving it up actually."

His menu included seared diver scallop with antebellum grits, apple Riesling reduction and crispy bacon; roast heritage turkey and white bean chili with organic white cheddar and roasted poblano corn bread; beet and burrata salad with clementines and wild arugula; parmesan gnocchi, braised buffalo short rib and porcini mushrooms in broth; and warm chocolate pudding cake with caramelized banana, and crispy toffee.

Entree

For your entree, choose short ribs. In the past couple of years, they've become a Sundance staple. They were served at a half-dozen posh dinners hosted by both Chefdance and the Bon Appetit Supper Club.

This year four of the five Sundance chefs chose short ribs as part of the meal. One of those was Beau MacMillan, chef at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, and one of the "boot camp" instructors on the Food Network's "Worst Cook in America."

As far as short ribs' trendiness, "They're a little played out now, but the beauty with a group of this size is that you can braise them ahead of time and they hold well. You don't have to worry about cooking something to temperature or having it dry out, and they're a crowd-pleaser."

MacMillan braised the ribs beforehand and shipped them to Park City. When he and his assistant chefs arrived in Park City, they were assisted by culinary students from the Art Institute of Salt Lake City and Utah Valley University. Also helping out was Michael Nook, executive chef for Nicholas Foods, which donates the food for the Chefdance dinner series.

Adrian Grenier and other cast members from the HBO series "Entourage" were among the guests for MacMillan's dinner.

He made seared scallops with creamed Anson Mill grits, chorizo and tomato jam; chilled lump crab salad, passion fruit and avocado; braised short ribs with salsify fondue and garlic cherry glaze; and salted caramel panna cotta with caramel corn and chocolate peanuts.

MacMillan related some of his experiences on "Worst Cook" to the movie world.

"Just as actors have to rehearse lines, chefs have to rehearse recipes. I was shocked at how easily people give up on themselves, just because they made a dish one time and it was awful. Chefs fail and succeed every day in a kitchen environment."

Gulf Shrimp and Smoked Bacon with Passion Mustard

4 cups passion fruit puree (or pineapple juice)

1 green Thai chile, halved lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup honey

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