Submitted by Wenk Wink, member of Culinary Arts Fellowship Group
What is to “discover” when science, beauty, sustainability, innovation, fellowship, and a measure of magic mingle on a snowy evening? Why, the Rotary Culinary Arts Fellowship Group at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery’s Steenbock’s on Orchard, of course!
Thanks to the insight and hard work of Phil Levy, the foresight of Greg Frank and Steve Mixtacki (and Carl Gulbrandsen), and the magic of Steenbock’s Chef Michael Pruett, his back-house chef crew and the terrific front-of-the-house staff, our evening was more than a “discovery,” it was a magical gastronomical wonder.
From the warm welcome on a cold night, through the cooking demonstration of a dessert (yes, first eat dessert) of a smoky pot of frozen chocolate mousse strewn over a table with chocolate syrup, home-made marshmallow, berries, and glace sugar. Rotarians looked like wolves tasting this treat. On to the dining room to savor: amuse bouche of creamy broccoli you could lick with your tongue; roasted baby beets from the chef’s garden; fluke sashimi (remarkably tender from lemon garlic oil); seared scallop with an ASTOUNDING parsnip puree, roasted brussels sprouts, pancetta, with a citrus beuree blanc; pistachio-crusted lamb rib eye, potato gratin so thinly sliced it was ethereal in its port wine reduction sauce; then (and there was a then) chocolate truffle cake, cherries, and vanilla iced cream. All could be paired with wines selected for their sustainability.
Laughter, conversation and enjoyment of exceptional companionship accompanied Chef Pruett’s and his staff’s answers to our questions: how did you slice that potato gratin (by hand, of course, using a mandolin); what’s in the ASTOUNDING parsnip puree (salt, cream, parsnips – geez, who knew); and, “will you come home with me” (silence, then, “the guest is always right” [Cathy Durham’s husband seemed unconcerned with her question and the Chef’s response])? Once again, the Culinary Arts Fellowship group “discovered” one another on a truly magical evening.