Some chefs hint at what’s in store for A La Mode

QUICKREAD

If you go

WHAT: A La Mode, A Sweet and Savory Experience.

WHERE: DoubleTree Hotel, 743 Horizon Drive.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7.

COST: $25 per person.

CONTACT: http://www.alamodegj.com.



Top this.

A mascarpone cheesecake with almond crust and chocolate hazelnut sauce.

Or, top this.

A chocolate caramel pretzel pie with honey vanilla ice cream.

These are a couple of the desserts you might encounter at the Rotary Club-sponsored A La Mode event, where it’s all about one-upping the competition.

Twelve of Grand Junction’s top restaurant chefs will vie for the people’s choice awards to benefit a variety of medical, legal and educational charities supported by the Horizon Sunrise Rotary Club.

New this year to the April 7 event is a challenge to the chefs to incorporate savory items in the menu. In past years, the event has concentrated on sweets.

I called around to see what the chefs might bring to the table and some were willing to share.

Several were cagey, wanting to keep the surprise element. It is a competition after all.

Others, used to the turn-on-a-dime pace of the restaurant kitchen, haven’t yet settled on a creation.

Enzo’s co-owner Kelly Favale is banking on their homemade Italian-style cheesecake, including the aforementioned mascarpone cake and a red velvet cheesecake with chocolate almond crust, both favorites at the north Grand Junction restaurant.

Mandy Gabelson of Ava’s Sweet Cakes is keeping the aura of mystery, revealing only that she’ll be serving cakes of the sweet and savory variety.

Winner of the best presentation award in last year’s competition, 626 on Rood, will prepare something with a 1970s theme, according to pastry chef Krysten Helgeland. Could that include disco doughnuts, tequila sunrise pie and a Marsha, Marsha, Marsha marshmallow something? I don’t know.

Bin 707 Food Bar plans to bring its chocolate caramel pretzel pie, a little bit sweet and a little bit salty, and maybe a chocolate torte mousse. Owner Josh Nierenberg’s plans aren’t firm, yet, but a chocolate pot de crème and strawberry-rhubarb crème brulee could still make the cut.

Dolce Vita will bring strawberry tiramisu and two edible centerpieces, one for auction. The restaurant last year had the highest bid for the centerpiece, said executive chef Natasha Simmons.

The grand dame of the competition so far is Brunella Gualerzi of Il Bistro Italiano, who has won the best dessert honors at A La Mode for the past two years. She has yet to put together a menu but predicts a chocolate mousse with goat cheese caramel might be a contender.

Her winner last year included a sampler platter of saffron pavlova with basil, mango and moscato wine topped with Florentine and truffle tart of passion fruit.

Top that a la mode.

CLOSE TO THE SOD: It’s getting close. It’s almost time to dig your hands into the soil and smell the loam.

Grow Another Row is entering it’s third season in the Grand Valley and encourages gardeners to donate their extra bounty to the organization.

Vegetables and fruit collected by volunteers are donated to area food banks. Last year, nearly 7,000 pounds of homegrown food reached needy families in the area through eight food banks.

The variety was amazing: Asian pears, tomatillos (I can attest that these are insanely prolific), okra and celery. A single volunteer produced 1,093 pounds of food.

No word on whether they decline baseball bat-sized zucchini.

QUOTE: “As is common knowledge, most of your death row executions come from Texas and Oklahoma, the nation’s leaders in the field. Therefore, most last meals are fried chicken, pork rinds, chili fries and an occasional macaroni and cheese. No self-respecting Italian would go to meet his maker on such crap. Me, I’d let my mother prepare the meal.” — Silvo Dante, “The Sopranos Cookbook,” speculating what his last meal request on death row would be.

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