This is going to become a tradition. Or a habit. Or an addiction. It’s that good. Gather the best chefs in Rhode Island at a terribly scenic spot during a colorful autumn day; have them cook up a favorite dish while offering generous samples; and then surround them with live music and a crackling fire pit –now there is a recipe for culinary magic. We experienced this for a second year at the Chef’s Collaborative Harvest BBQ held again at Schartner Farms, in Exeter, Rhode Island. Chefs Derek Wagner of Nicks on broadway in Providence and Jake Rojas of Tallulah on Thames in Newport teamed up with the following chefs, brewers, vintners & craftsmen:
- Matthew Gennuso of Chez Pascal
- Champe Speidel of Persimmon
- James Mark of north
- Matthew Varga & Melissa Denmark of Gracie’s
- Beau Vestal of New Rivers
- Chad Hoffer and Tyler Burnley of Thames Street Kitchen
- Chad Hart & Kevin Thiele of One Bellevue at Hotel Viking
- Eli Dunn of Eli’s Kitchen
- Jenn Cavallaro of The Beehive Cafe
- Rick Allaire of Metacom Kitchen
- Karsten Hart & Mathew Petersen of Newport Restaurant Group & 22 Bowen
- Sean Larkin of Revival Brewing
- David Gould of RISD dining
- Wine Wizards and Greenvale Vineyard
- Nick Garrison of Foolproof Brewing Company
- Susan Denice of Johnathan Edwards Winery
- J.R. of The Avery
- M.S. Walker with Newport Vineyards, Berkshire Moountain Distillers & Calledonia Spirits
- John at Yacht Club Soda
Nothing remedies a cold, windy day like hot, delicious food. Except, of course, enormous quantities of hot, delicious food. I speak, of course, of the Chef’s Collaborative.
Every booth on that grassy lakeside advertised unbelievable delicacies; it was hard to know where to start. From the piping hot, spicy pumpkin soup to the fried corn fritters, the variety was nearly overwhelming. However, once we got started at the front, it was simple enough to eat, move, check for utensils, repeat.
I’ve never had so much food that all tasted exactly like a New England fall. The black bean burger, smoky and salty, was hot off the skillet and complemented perfectly the smoky-sweet taste of a square of grilled butternut squash with crunchy sesame toppings. The desserts were equally sumptuous. My favorite was the banana layer cup with three sections of crumbs, banana slices, and thick banana pudding. But that doesn’t mean that the chocolate chip cookie, the huge molasses-ginger cookie, and the pumpkin macaroon weren’t excellent. Yacht Club sodas in varying flavors accompanied the whole meal(s).
The one thing that threw me was my first oyster experience. Admittedly, the whole thing was drowned in hot sauce, but I will never forget the novelty of a little sea creature sliding down my throat. It was not something I ever thought to try; but that’s not to say it won’t happen again. Max Bogan
The Chef’s Collaborative was an awesome experience. All of the food, from simple grilled cheese to elaborate smoked fish salads, was delicious. As we entered the event, an entire roasted pig took up a table to one side, and its pork was some of the best I’ve ever had. We were able to watch as Mr. Calisto tried his very first oyster, and had all kinds of dishes at the different tables. My favorite dish was an apple dessert, and after asking some questions I discovered how it is made: part of an apple is stewed in its own juices until it becomes dark, rich, and soft; the other part is compressed into tiny squares and adds a crisp, sweet crunch. Together with granola, caramel, and whipped cream, it was a great treat that I would like to try making on my own sometime. – Rosie Randoph
My personal favourite was the lamb tacos. There were sweet, savoury, and spicy foods. There were locally known beverages such as the Yacht Club sodas. It was my first time trying raw oysters and to my surprise, they were more slimy than I expected; however they were still delicious. A bowl of warm kimchi was served to me first. A spicy blend of herbs and spices filled my eager taste buds. The small area was packed, filled with people from all over RI. The campfire seemed to be the go-to spot to rest and eat the different foods. Everyone had an eventful, tasteful evening in Exeter. –Jade Asieu
On a crisp fall afternoon, the Abbey Culinary Arts Club went to the Rhode Island Chefs’ Collaborative Harvest BBQ. The BBQ was held at Schartner Farms, next to a gorgeous pond surrounded by trees displaying the best of their autumn colors. Many restaurants attended, offering widely varied but delicious cuisine. I especially enjoyed the lamb tacos from Besos which featured slow cooked pulled lamb, salsa verde and the perfect hint of pineapple; the taco was freshly made and still warm despite the chilly weather. Another of my favorites was a brown butter and pumpkin macaron with Aquidneck Island honey from Ellie’s Bakery in Providence. The macarons themselves looked like little orange pumpkins with a sunflower seed stem that were as tasty as they were adorable! The chefs at the BBQ focus on locally-sourced and sustainable food so regional seafood and produce were seen at many of the tables. I discovered many restaurants that I am excited to visit again so that I can try even more of their food!
Chef’s Collaborative is a great opportunity to experience numerous cuisines from varying chefs. What I loved about this year’s event was the creativity involved in some of the dishes. For example, there was a patty made out of black beans instead of the traditional beef patty. However, my favorite dish was the kimchi stew. It was a surprising twist from the kimchi stew I use to have back home. The broth was much clearer and the addition of unorthodox ingredients such as pear elevated the dish. The sweetness from the pear counterbalanced the spiciness from the kimchi extremely well. I believe creativity and technique are the two key elements in cooking, and Chef’s Collaborative was an excellent display of both. It was extremely enjoyable in my last year at the Abbey!! Seha Choi
After that I tried a pumpkin macaroon and peanut butter cookie. Lastly, I had a layered banana pudding that was topped with a crumble. All of the food this year was absolutely delicious, and I had the chance to learn about many local restaurants. –Grace Gibbons
The brutal coldness of New England did not obstruct me from enjoying the diversified cuisines at the Chefs Collaborative Harvest BBQ the past Sunday. Over twenty restaurants and their chefs gathered together and hosted an extraordinary food festival near Exeter. Mrs. Bonin, Mr. Kerr and Mr. Calisto saved us, 14 desperate, tired and hungry kids, from strenuous school to a food paradise. Forgetting the pressure from work, from parents, from everything, we were finally truly living again, enjoying the warmth from the glowing sunshine, enduring the pain from the cold wind while appreciating the varied taste of nature.
With growling stomach, I hastily started my food adventure with Cassie and Lucy. Squeezing through crowds and grabbing one plate after another, we ravenously and eagerly searched for food, trying to experience the most primitive form of happiness and satisfaction. The magic of nature’s boundless resources and talented cooking skills of the chefs truly astonished me. Together, we tasted everything we could lay our hands on (except the champagne). As a professional carnivore, I tried dipped steak, roasted pork, chopped lamb, fried chicken, fresh oyster and curry salmon. Lucy, in an effort and struggle to stay healthy, attempted hot Kim chi soup, creamy clam chowder with crab cake, smashed squash topped with sesame, vegetable salad decorated with garlic and black bean burger while Cassie, an innate fan of desserts, tasted the meticulously layered banana cake, Napoleon cake dipped with hot apple sauce, homemade cookie, delicately arranged rose flavor macaroon, s’more and vanilla mousse.
The sweetness from the deserts, especially the crispy Napoleon cake and the resilient s’more, mingled with the sour and salty aftertaste from the appetizer, especially the spicy Kim chi soup (I even cried a bit because of the soup), creating a temperate combination of flavors and a silky smoothness along my throat. Meanwhile, the roughness of the meat, including the chopped lamb, and the softness of vegetable, like the smashed squash, complemented each other, forming a fusion of texture. Overwhelmed with inexplicable joy and filled with satisfaction, we immediately fell and lay on the blanket after our last bite. — Kevin Jiang
The Chef’s Collaborative served up yet another great experience for the Culinary Arts Club. Although the frigid wind coming off the pond pushed us towards the fire, the creatively simple dishes colored in the pale October afternoon. As a man of simple tastes, my stomach yanked me to the black bean slider burgers time after time. It may not have been the most electrifying dish at the site, but its reliability to warm and its ability to be carried around without utensils gave the stand infinite return ability. I have never been one to put much effort into my eating, so being able to grab a small burger and go was huge. – David Ingraham