“Tastemaker”: Beyond the Shaker Wins Food Competition
Posted March 28th, 2010 by Chris
Filed under: Fumee de Sel, Garlic Shallot, news
If you follow this blog or live in the Chicago-area, you may be familiar with an incredible food competition that Beyond the Shaker participated in on March 26, 2010 called “Odd Pairs“. We previously wrote about our culinary entry into Odd Pairs, but as a short recap, the event is sponsored by two local food companies, Bean & Body and Crop to Cup with the intent to match small midwest food companies (restaurants, suppliers, caterers, etc.) with each other to create a signature odd pair dish. Past combinations included Pre-Season Croatian Olive Oil from our friends at Fino Products paired with rich handmade vanilla ice cream from Nice Cream in Chicago. Sounds odd, eh? Well it tasted unbelievably great. This is the type of pairs that are unexpected and yet yield a delicious result, and it is exactly what the Odd Pairs evening is all about (ok, there is usually music and other stuff too, but the primary purpose is food).
The competition in the latest iteration of Odd Pairs this Spring 2010 was crazy-good (and I am not just saying that because we won – nice try though!). The participants included Ineeka Tea (Dearest Ineeka, love your tea. And your new tea beer product. Sincerely, Beyond the Shaker. PS, also dig your website), Glazed Donuts Chicago (name says it all – in Homer Simpson voice, “mmmm…donuts”), Swim Cafe (wonderfully original food), Das Foods (caramels and some stellar suckers), Great Taste Cafe (socially conscious and inventive – Beyond the Shaker is doing a salt tasting with them in April, so look out for it), Ginger Bliss (amazing ginger sodas), Goose Island (internationally known, Chicago-based brewery) and L2O Restaurant (nationally acclaimed, cutting-edge food featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”
See?! I wasn’t virtually (metaphorically) pulling your leg when I said there were some heavy hitters of the Chicago culinary scene at this event. And Beyond the Shaker was fortunate enough to be paired with FIG Catering, a Chicago-area caterer that I really cannot say enough about….our contact at FIG was Molly, and her creativity and ability to build flavor seems almost limitless. She is the brilliantly deranged inventor of our Odd Pairs entry- Beyond the Shaker salt infused, savory marshmallow croutons to be floated in a silky spring time carrot soup.
The trio of marshmallows included roasted garlic shallot (with Beyond the Shaker Garlic Shallot blend), ginger wasabi lemongrass (with our floral Everest Wet Salt), and bacon fumee de sel (with our Fumee De Sel)…uh, yeah, bacon marshmallows. In my informal observations, I think the bacon infused with smoked salt was the most popular marshmallow for people to try, but the Everest Wet marshmallow was the crowd favorite. People seemed to be drawn to it because the salty ginger and lemongrass paired so well with the springtime carrot soup.
Anyway, at the end of the night, after probably dishing out 100+ servings of this creation, Beyond the Shaker and FIG were announced as the favorite and awarded the highly coveted “Tastemaker” award. The judge was a personal favorite of mine, Cleetus Friedman from City Provisions in Chicago (and a former Odd Pairs Tastemaker). Yes, Beyond the Shaker is a Tastemaker and that is why I have that goofy smile in the picture above (goofier than normal at least). Fun evening and of course we thank everyone that screamed their hearts out for our Odd Pair. If you can get an invite to the next iteration of this event, you should beg and plead, as it is truly one not to be missed.
As a final note, to top it ALL off, we heard an amazing Russian folk choir (Golosa) at Odd Pairs, which just fit in perfectly with the night. These guys and gals are sure into their art, and it shows with incredible vocal expression. Great stuff.