2011 Chicago Rising Stars Gala

Last night was probably one of the best food events of the year. Starchefs.com hosted its Rising Stars event at the Fairmont Hotel and it was an industry packed event. The honored chefs fed the crowd well, very well! Most events like this there are one or two bites you think - what was that? Not here, most had people coming back for more. The other great part was that it wasn't so packed that you could get a second plate or maybe a third!

It seemed everywhere you turned you saw industry icons of Chicago's restaurant scene. In a relaxed fun atmosphere it was a chance to catch up, reminisce and enjoy some good natured teasing! I had to laugh to myself a few times when people looked at me and said, "Don't write this..."

The awards presentation was fun and Paul Kahan provided the comedy proclaiming his fatherhood of many of the chef's he'd mentored. Was it me or did he have some Belushi like qualities on stage? Each chef was honored in a very gracious and humble way with each of their mentors providing a bit of insight. Star Chefs also honored sommeliers, mixologists and restauratuers. For the complete list of those honored check out their site.

The second best dish of the night went to Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia. He served Pheasant Agnolotti, Morel Mushrooms, Albufera Sauce, and Grana Padano Cheese and took home $5,000 for his efforts. As he described his dish, I teased him, "So just a few things you had lying about the kitchen?" He joked back, "Ya, this is just something I threw together like I do at home!" If that's the case, I'll accept an invite to his dinner parties anytime.  Shin Thompson, Bonsoiree, won a Jade Plancha for the best dish of the night for his Scallop-Crab Motoyaki: Diver Sea Scallop, Crab, and Ponzu Aïoli.

The event benefitted Common Threads. If you plan on getting to only a few "food" events in the future, make sure Star Chefs Rising Star Gala is on your list!

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at chicagofoodsnob@hotmail.com. Joe is retained as a compensated blogger by Pei Wei Asian Diner.

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