Chef Louie Night at Jerry Remy’s

Chef who what at where?

Yeah, I hadn’t heard of Chef Louie Night either. And while I remember reading about Jerry Remy’s opening in 2010, I had never been there. Winning two tickets to the event (thanks BostonChefs!) proved to be just the excuse to fix both of these oversights.

So good news, part one: According to a diner I chatted up who knows Louie there have been ‘three or four’ of these nights. You’re still ahead of the curve! You can still be the hip, in-the-know person in your group next time one of these comes around.

Good news, part two: Jerry Remy’s has a wonderful airy lay out with views of Fenway. If you can’t get in the ballpark this really might be the next best thing. If you are sitting anywhere in the restaurant -except at the bar- the television presence is not oppressive, yet your sports-obsessed dinner companion(s) can always get a glance at the score. Perhaps most importantly, Jacqui Kennedy is running the kitchen and, based on the Chef Louie hors d’oeuvres, she knows what she’s doing. I would definitely go again some night to eat and soak in the energy of Boston sports fans.

My key point about Chef Louie Night is that the food was good. ALL of the food was good, from the three on-point apps (J. Kennedy) all the way to the wee cupcakes (Cakes by Erin). The food was much better than the last one-off event I went to, Eat Boston‘s British Consulate Dinner. While I won’t judge any organization by one food event, I will attend another Chef Louie Night with eager anticipation. I will attend another Eat Boston event with a little wariness.

In theory, Chef Louie Night combines a pop-up restaurant mentality with competitive cooking. Two teams, each helmed by a ‘rising-star’ chef, must plan and execute two courses to be served, family style, to 100+ diners. The ingredients are voted on by those who will be attending and are not revealed to the chefs until the day of the event. There is an official judging panel, but the winner seems to be decided primarily by diner ballot. Supposedly all in two hours.

I don’t know how much ingredient voting actually transpired. Seconds on the courses were supposedly available, but never materialized. The judges’ commentary seemed superfluous, I would have preferred to hear from other diners. The event ran three hours and the candy-striped beets were AWOL. However, the only slip that mattered was the beets. And that is more an expression of disappointment than a criticism. The food was good and the company fun.

The four courses were:

  1. Striploin w/ chimichurri, king oyster mushrooms and fresh corn puree
  2. Roasted Quail w/candy striped beets, farro, and chamomile jus
  3. Grilled Pork Tenderloin w/summer ragout, bacon and squash blossoms
  4. Beef Sliders w/caramelized onions, arugula and foie cognac mayo

I may have missed something. The menu was also the ballot and I did not think to snare an extra on the way out. Ultimately Jason Cheek’s team -responsible for courses 1 & 3- won. However, Brandon Arms’ sliders got more votes than any other course and I think the roasted quail was the best executed and most exciting course on the menu. The quail was cooked perfectly, the farro added great texture and the chamomile jus, which made me a little skeptical at first turned out to be a wonderful complement to the slight gamey-ness of the quail. Good lesson here about innovation vs. familiarity.

Dessert was cupcakes from Cakes by Erin. I was also impressed by these. Cupcakes are VERY easy to do badly. In spite of being frozen or at least refrigerated for a while the cake was tender. The colors and flavors were vibrant. And while I’m product placing, I will point out that the meat was donated by Pineland Farms of Maine; diners were entitled to a complimentary glass of wine from 90+ Cellars; and each ticket included a $5 donation to Lovin’ Spoonfuls food rescue.

What Chef Louie Night lacked in elegant execution it more than made up for with great food. I hope there are many more.