Blog: Saveur BBQ at Boat Basin Cafe
Summer is officially here, and with it come the glorious spoils of outdoor cooking. The Fifth Annual “SAVEUR Summer BBQ” filled the Upper West Side’s Boat Basin Café on Tuesday evening with the sights and sounds of the season, and a little bit of grill smoke. While New York City was heavily represented in the lineup of chefs from across the country, the flavors celebrated global influences as chefs fired up fare in the categories of Surf, Turf, Veggies and Sweets.
Verterra was on site providing stylish sustainable plates and utensils made from fallen leaves, stacked high at each station. Guests were greeted upon entry by Saveur’s own Test Kitchen courtesy of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. Their “Iraqi Yellow Spice-Rubbed Chicken” was served up with a sweetly acidic hit from a side of onion pickles and paired with tabouleh loaded with fresh green herbs. They also hosted world renowned Pizza Chef Roberto Caporuscio, happily manning the oven and serving up slices of zesty “Margherita” and “Pepperoni” pies among a variety of others. Those of us with fast hands were lucky to grab a “White Slice with Lemon and Smoked Mozzarella,” an unexpected pairing that served to nicely balance one another.
Crowd favorites included the “Clam Bake” from Chef Joey Campanaro (Little Owl, NYC) and Mike Price (The Clam, NYC) and the little picnic box filled with “BBQ Chicken Wings and Potato Chips” from Marc Meyer (Cookshop, NYC). The Meat Hook also brought classic barbecue fare, with a spicy twist. Local favorites Brent Young and Sara Bigelow grilled up their delectable “Housemade Hot Dog” and stacked it high with a jalapeno slaw that served up a fiery punch at the first taste and kept on coming. Chef Justin Devillier (La Petite Grocery, New Orleans) meanwhile, had a busy night trying to keep his station full as plates of his “Chargrilled Pork Wrapped in Lettuce” with crunchy, sweet peanuts and bright herbs, all balanced with fish sauce, seemed to continually disappear just as they were put down. Fellow Top Chef alum Dale Talde (Talde, Brooklyn) served up a distinctive variation of similar ingredients with his “Lemongrass Pork Slippery Noodles” with a seasonally appropriate and inventive watermelon fish sauce.
Representing the Surf category were a few all-around favorites. Kerry Heffernan, a Top Chef Masters Finalist, saw to it that each patient patron received an artfully prepared plate of “Grilled Squid” accompanied by mint English pea coulis and a bed of scallions and spicy chili. We’d also be remiss not to mention Chef Chris Cipollone (Piora, NYC) masterfully wielded a pipette of basil oil over his “Barbecued Octopus,” grilled to tender perfection and served atop a bright fennel slaw. No less satisfying was the “Meatless Bruschetta” from Chef Jenn Louis (Lincoln Restaurant, Portland). Crispy grilled bread was the vehicle for all things tasty in her dish, featuring earthy and bright grilled asparagus on a layer of pimento cheese that added the perfect amount of zip.
As guests paraded around the open air, waterfront space, they washed down much of the hearty fare with signature cocktails, beginning with a “Sweet Strawberry Fields” courtesy of Pallini Limoncello and a refreshing “Mint Julep” made with Corsair Rye Whiskey. Concurrently, the men behind Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s station were busy slapping mint garnishes for their signature “Summertime Lemonade” and a drink called “The Go To,” both of which were dangerously refreshing after a few rounds of savory bites. The crowd finished the evening by making the rounds for entrants in the Sweets category. A dense “Chocolate Mousse” from Lindt and individual ice cream cups from Haagen-Dazs provided a cool break from their grilled counterparts, but Pastry Chef Dana Cree’s (Blackbird, Chicago) “Cinnamon Concha” embraced the theme. Topped with roasted strawberries and whipped goat cheese, the elevated play on a strawberry shortcake was a perfect end to an evening that displayed the best that summer has to offer from some of the country’s finest masters of the kitchen.
- Mallory Sullivan