The Celebrity Chef Tour took Eggleston, VA by storm once again this year.
Nick and I were fortunate enough to attend once again, and I have to say – this year’s event (and meal!) surpassed last year’s, which I thought was an impossible feat.
This year, I had to opportunity to be there both nights of the dinner to take pictures for the owner of The Palisades, where the event was taking place.
Having the chance to see everyone getting the restaurant prepped and the food ready for two back-to-back nights of insanity was so fun! It was awesome to see that side of an event like this. Last year, when we just showed up for the meal, all the prep work was done and I had no idea just how much work and coordination and dedication it took to pull this off.
And – to make it even more crazy – they did 2 nights this year! Same meal, same set up, different crowd, and tons of food.
I’m happy I was able to capture everyone working together and to see things fall in place both nights.
But the best part about these events?
If you didn’t know, Eggleston is a small town. And the surrounding towns are all small towns. So just about everyone knows everyone else and their families and friends.
It is always fun for me to see that sense of community here, especially at events like this. People are genuinely happy to see each other and catch up, even though they may have just seen the person the day before.
Chef Walter Scheib, The American Chef, was the guest chef for this year’s meal. I was excited to see him back this year, not only because the meal was fantastic, but because I couldn’t wait to hear more stories about working at The White House!
He was just as friendly as I remember, taking time to talk with the attendees, tell stories, and sign books.
After last year’s event, I was informed that the meal was a collaboration between host chef and guest chef, and I want to make sure I name everyone listed on the menu because this meal was, in every sense, incredible.
Along with Chef Scheib, Host Chefs Shaena Muldoon (owner of The Palisades), Shaun Phillips, and Kevin White worked together and with other staff and volunteers to put together a delicious evening from start to finish.
As guests came in, they were greeted with passed appetizers – 4 varieties – and had a choice of a sparkling wine (Gruet Blanc de Noir), a white wine (Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc 2009), or beer (Stella Artois).
The first appetizer we sampled was a Confit Duck Won Ton with Orange Soy BBQ and Sesame Slaw.
I loved all of the appetizers, all for different reasons. This duck appetizer had such a great balance of flavors! I loved the crispy won ton under the tender duck, and the orange soy sauce and little bit of slaw had the perfect amount of sour + sweet.
The second appetizer was Stuffed Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Olive Oil.
One of the guys at the restaurant let me behind the counter to get a picture of these artichokes in their brick oven – I love that they were using this oven to get these guys piping hot!
I’m not exactly sure what all was in the stuffing, but Nick and I both loved them.
They were especially delicious with the Ken Forrester Sauv Blanc. The only thing – for me – was that these were a bit hard to eat while standing, holding a drink, and holding my camera. But they were definitely worth the mess I made.
This one was our favorite, hands down.
It looks so unassuming compared to that fancy won ton and the stuffed artichoke, but this appetizer won both of us over as soon as we tasted it.
The third appetizer was Smoked Wilson Mills (local!) Trout with some sort of lemon sauce.
It was perfect. I could have eaten a dozen of these!
The fourth appetizer was great, too. I really did enjoy all of them and I tried my best to not eat too many since I knew the meal was coming up soon.
This was a Queso de Valdeon Blue Cheese and Pear Tartlet with caramelized onions. It was so much sweeter than I thought it would be, but I loved it. The crust was great, and the blue cheese wasn’t overpowering.
The trays of appetizers didn’t last long, as you can see.
Around 7 pm, Jeff Black from the Celebrity Chef Tour, Chef Scheib, and Shaena all spoke about the event to get the crowd ready for the meal.
And this is where the real fun began!
Since I was there to get other pictures (especially prep and behind the scenes), I was able to sneak in and see them getting the dishes ready to serve.
They had a great system and a good rhythm going for each course – it was pretty impressive. I can’t imagine how hard it is to get that many meals out to the tables while they’re still warm and get everyone served in just a few minutes time.
The first course of the evening was a Maryland Blue Crab Cake and Corn Soup paired with Kendall-Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2009.
Chef Scheib told us that he would serve thousands of these crab cakes at Camp David. Thousands! Can you imagine?
And those little yellow things on the crab cake? They’re corn sprouts – the very first shoots that come up. They are sweet and taste just like summer fresh corn off the cob.
I loved everything about this dish. The crab cake was sweet and full of crab and not much else. The soup was sweet and a little spicy. It was a great way to start the meal.
The best thing about these meals is that Chef Scheib really enjoys them, as well. He tells stories about the dishes and comes around to all the tables to meet everyone and answer questions. While the food itself is worth attending, the meal is made even better because the guest Chef is an active part of the evening.
The second course was a Smoked Beef Tenderloin with a Firecracker Sauce, Green Chili and Hominy Casserole and Red Bean and Chorizo Ragout paired with the Byron Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2009.
Can I introduce you to Nick’s dream plate? Smoked beef. Beans. Sausage. Fried tortilla strips.
Chef Scheib served some smoked tenderloin last year, too, but we both liked this version even better! I loved the hominy casserole and bean ragout, and every few bites would have a spicy kick from the firecracker sauce.
The Chef shared a story about this dish and how President Bush’s birthday was just a few days after July 4th so they would always have his birthday party on July 4th to celebrate. Since President Bush was a Texas man, Chef Scheib and the staff at the White House would do, what he called, a tour de force of Texas food favorites of the first family, and this was a mix of some of those dishes.
The third course, and the salad course, was a Red and Gold Beet Carpaccio with Fennel and Citrus Salad and Herbed Goat Cheese paired with the Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.
Would you believe this was my first time to ever have beets?
I’m glad I waited because this salad was so delicious! And now I’m no longer scared of beets.
I loved the tang of the goat cheese with the sweet citrus, licorice-y fennel, and earthy beets. It also went really well with the wine, and I probably wouldn’t have thought to have that salad with a red. But I will definitely try my own version of this salad in the future.
Nick liked it, too (you can see his empty plate in the background) and he always says that he doesn’t like beets.
This salad convinced us both that beets are delicious. I can’t wait to get some at the farmer’s market this year.
And finally. The moment I was waiting for since Friday when I first took pictures of the dessert.
Oh, the dessert.
I think this may have tied with last year’s dessert because I really loved both, but you know me – I’m a coffee fanatic and will love just about anything with that flavor.
This year’s dessert was a Chocolate Mocha Torte with Espresso “Jolt” Ice Cream and Kahlua Sauce paired with the Broadbent Porto Auction Reserve port.
By this point in the meal, I was getting pleasantly full. Even with the appetizers, first 3 courses, and wine pairings, I wasn’t stuffed but I knew I was getting close to that point. Thankfully, all of the courses are realistic portions, but I still wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat more than a bite of the dessert when it was set down at my chair.
That didn’t last long.
It didn’t stand a chance.
The mousse was so light and fluffy and that ice cream was full of coffee flavor and coffee beans, and the entire thing went down a little too easy with the port. But I enjoyed every bite and was still pleasantly full at the end of the meal.
After the meal was over and the plates were cleared away, the entire staff and all the people that helped pull this meal together (both nights) were given a very well-deserved round of applause.
It was a fantastic weekend, not only for this community and what this event means to everyone here, but it was also just a fun time to celebrate with friends, meet new people, and enjoy a great meal.
Special thanks to Jeff Black and the Celebrity Chef Tour for coming back here this year, and a big thanks to Chef Scheib for returning, as well.
The biggest thanks goes to Shaena Muldoon for hosting the event at The Palisades, for all her hard work, and for her amazing staff and volunteers that helped make this event possible.
I’m already looking forward to next year!