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Monday
Oct262009

SHARE Benefit at Chelsea Piers

What: Benefit for SHARE, an organization to support women who are survivors of breast and ovarian cancer
Where: Chelsea Piers, NYC, Pier Sixty

Me with Chef Sue Torres of Suenos in NYC. She taught the very first cooking class I ever took.This Search took me to an incredible benefit at the grand Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers. The benefit was for a wonderful organization, SHARE.

The fundraiser was all about...food! In the gigantic Pier 60, dozens of great female chefs offered delectable tastings of amazing food. There was booth after booth of tasting plates, as well as an endless selection of wine, liquor, and fancy cocktails (mojitos with aged rum, ginger martini, wine, wine, wine).

A Whole Lotta People at Pier 60 for the SHARE benefitThe food was fabulous! Some highlights included a mini, super buttery and fresh Lobster Roll from Pearl Oyster Bar (served by Sara Moulton), an Heirloom Tomato salad with mild and creamy house made ricotta (from Alex Guarnaschelli from Butter restaurant), and fatty sinful chopped porchetta on crostini from Porchetta restaurant in NYC. The best thing we had was an unbelievable walnut and raisin (at least I think it was walnut and raisin--perhaps one too many ginger martinis?) breadsticks from Amy's Bread, served by Amy herself. Most delicious breadstick on the planet.

Alex Guarnaschelli's Heirloom Tomatoes with House Made RicottaHappy Mess of Chopped Porchetta from Porchetta Restaurant in NYCI got to take some pictures with these fabulous chefs. It was really exciting to get a photo taken with Chef Sue Torres, of Suenos Restaurant in NYC. About 6 years ago, before I went to culinary school, or had even thought of becoming a professional caterer, I took a cooking class with this talented Chef. I can't remember what we made (and she asked me when I met her, which was a bit embarrassing), but it sort of got my whole culinary career started. So it was very meaningful for me to get this photo, at this stage of my life.

A wonderful event, and some fabulous female chefs. Maybe I will be there cooking next year...         

Miss E with Amy, of Amy's Bread 

Miss E with Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Sara Moulton 

 

 

 




Tuesday
Sep222009

Elisa Strauss' Incredible Lobster Cake

What: Birthday Lunch Buffet for 50 Guests
Where: Saltaire, Fire Island

Handmade Sugar Shells and Brown Sugar Sand. Brilliant.This Search takes me back to Fire Island, where I was catering a 50 person lunch buffet. I was very excited to work with my new client, a really sweet and unbelievably talented woman named Elisa Strauss. Elisa owns a bakery in NYC called Confetti Cakes. Her cakes are absolutely ridiculously amazing.

When she was younger, Elisa was interested in textiles and oil paints. She soon turned to designing and sculpting cakes. While working as a Fashion Designer for Ralph Lauren, Elisa was asked to design a cake in the shape of Mr. Lauren's favorite sports car (Bugatti). One thing led to another and Confetti Cakes was born.

Elisa has been written up in a million magazines and has appeared on the Food Network several times. She designs grand, glorious wedding cakes and cakes with themes. Check out the Wine Bottle Cake on the website. She has two really great cookbooks (AMAZON LINK: Confetti Cakes Cookbook, AMAZON LINK: Confetti Cakes Cookbook for Kids) In fact, after the party, she sent me the "Confetti Cakes for Kids" book, which features her recipe for buttercream. Elisa made cupcakes for the party I catered, and the buttercream was the most delightfully fluffy and perfectly buttery buttercream I had ever had. Thanks Elisa!

My food was tasty and the party was a success. You can see the menu and some pictures of the buffet spread at the end of this post. But really, this is not about the lunch I catered. The real highlight of this party was Elisa's cake. This woman is a true artist. The cake was about 2 feet high, a beach pail with a lobster coming out of it. Everything was crafted from sugar, from the tiny shells adorning the base of the pail, to the sand dollars on top of the cupcakes, to the beady black eyes of the lobster. It all looked so REAL. It was flawlessly constructed and airbrushed, a perfect representation. At the base of the pail, dozens of cupcakes sat on top of brown sugar sand littered with beautiful sugar shells. Sugar sand dollars and starfish garnished some of the cupcakes (there were three cupcake flavors: vanilla, chocolate and coconut). The cupcakes in the center spelled out "Happy Birthday Karen" in sugar Scrabble letters, cause Karen loves Scrabble. Can you believe this?

Elisa Strauss' Glorious Lobster Cake Masterpiece. Woah.

Before the party, Elisa stood over the cake, scrutinzing every detail to make sure the cake was absolutely perfect. She was upset because it was hot outside and the sun was melting the sugar. Honestly, it all looked pretty awesome to me, but Elisa carefully, lovingly, moved the lobster's antennae a centimeter to the left, brushed a grain of brown sugar sand from the lobster's sugary back, made sure the sugar starfish was centered just so atop the coconut cupcake.

 

During the party people kept coming into the kitchen and staring at this masterpiece in total awe. Elisa politely accepted their gushing praise, saying modestly "it's what I do!" Maybe it is what she does and it's not such a big deal to her. But for those of us, and by us, I mean myself (and as I write this, I hang my head in shame) who cannot even cut a cake into straight, even layers, or successfully crack an egg without getting a bit of shell in the bowl (yes, yes, it's true! I admit it!), this was really a mind blowing achievement. I was so thrilled to be able to do this party for such an amazing artist. Check out Elisa's own Blog post about the Lobster Cake.

Seems funny to show you pictures of my little heirloom tomato salad after showing you Elisa's creation, but here you go, some catering photos to finish off the post:

 

Buffet Menu

  • Skirt steak with caramelized shallots and Creamed Spinach
  • Shrimp Cocktail with Homemade Cocktail Sauce--CHECK OUT THE RECIPE
  • Mini Traditional Lobster Rolls
  • Heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella Cheese, basil, Arugula extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar
  • Grilled corn with cilantro lime butter
  • Israeli couscous salad with spinach, artichokes, kalamata olives, Sun Dried tomatoes and Grilled Chicken Breast
  • Potato Salad

Close Up of Some Yummy Little Lobster RollsHeirloom Tomato Salad, Always a Winner

 Lunch Buffet Spread.