Chefs Collaborative 2018

It was another lovely evening spent eating like royalty. There on the banks of the pond at Schartner Farms, Portsmouth Abbey students kept company with many of the best chefs in Rhode Island, happily sampling their dishes and washing them down with Granny Squibbs Iced Tea–and they were thrilled to be treated to the drink by an Abbey alumna, Kelly McShane ’05!

Group Shot

It would be nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite dish from the Chefs Collaborative.Starting out with everyone slurping down an oyster seemed to be fitting for the event–trying out something together before embarking on our own personal food journeys. My food journey consisted of trying lots of things and finding three to four items that were mind-blowingly delicious. I actually had to look up a couple of words, which I love, because I wind up learning more about different foods.I looked up what Vermont Chevron, hubbard squash and chochoyote were. At first I thought that last one might have been a typo or something, but it is actually a small ball of corn dough, like a dumpling. The hubbard squashes looked very much like a cross between a melon and a squash, and a Vermont Chevron is a type of goat.

My favorite desserts were actually some of the first items I tried. One of them was the winter squash financier. There actually seemed to be a lot of dishes featuring squash, probably because the festival was focused on the fall harvest, which I enjoyed very much since I love squash. The winter squash financier   had some very subtle spices that gave it some warmth which was complemented well by the tangy, but sweet, cranberry and the crunchy pumpkin seeds on top. Then there was also a melon and sunflower seed macaron that was easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. In the past, I haven’t been much on a fan of macarons because of their chewy texture,but with these macarons, it fit well with the crunchy sunflower seeds. The macaron was sweet and fruity because of the melon, but had a little bit of a crunch and salty flavor from the sunflower seeds, which made them so tasty!!!

Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of croissants, so when I saw that there was a croissant sandwich, I was so excited. There were so many flavors and textures that all blended together so well. When I took a bite of it, I was surprised to taste warm spices along with a couple of other different flavors. Come to find out, there was a pumpkin butter on the sandwich that worked so well with the turkey breast and the crisp and refreshing celery root and apple salad. 

All in all, I was really excited to come to the Chef’s Collaborative, so it was really impressive that I got more excited after I started trying all the unique foods. My expectations were high to begin with, but this certainly surpassed them. I can’t wait to see what else we do during the school year for culinary arts club!—Sarah Costa ‘19

This past weekend Culinary Club traveled to Schartner’s Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island. They were hosting “The Chefs Collaborative” where various food and restaurant businesses came together o share their food, and drinks, with a vast group of people. The environment welcomed people from various backgrounds. I enjoyed how so many different people came together at Schartner’s Farm all due to their love for food. This experience allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try multiple food combinations that I would have never thought I would enjoy. My personal favorite was the Chez Pascal, a croissant sandwich consisting of pastured turkey breast, pumpkin butter, and celery root and apple salad. I finished the entire sandwich and even found myself licking the remaining remnants off my fingers. The Chez Pascal was the weirdest sandwich I had ever eaten, and yet it was one of the best I have ever had. This trip to Schartner’s Farm taught me to try new things, because surprisingly you end up liking most of the things you never believed you would. –Madison Burt ‘18

As soon as we passed the topiary arch, the energy of the event was evident. From the families playing field sports on the left to observers of the live band of the right, everyone seemed to be enjoying their time and at the centre of it all was the food. Set in the beautiful landscape of Schartner Farms, the Chef’s Collaborative was the opening event for the 2018-2019 Culinary Arts Club.Restaurants and chefs from all over Rhode Island gathered for this event, each offering an amazing dish. Every stand seemed to imbue their dishes own distinct taste and flavor: from classic to contemporary, everything at the event was meticulously prepared.

The event started with the initiating dish: the oyster. Greeting us at the entrance were two buckets teeming with raw oysters, the natural first dish people gravitated towards. Being an oyster lover myself, I found myself coming back for ‘just one more oyster’ several times throughout the night. Another standout was Durk’s BBQ Blackbird farm beef with smoked maitakes and onion top chimichurri over mashed potatoes. The charon the beef seemed to perfectly contrast the juicy inside and the classically done smooth mashed potatoes accompanied the meats perfectly. The maitakes also offered an extra texture the the overall dish and it was highly commendable how chef Jake Rojas was able to incorporate the mushroom into the dish so well.

Overall,the event seemed to foster an amazing sense of community over a shared love of food. From families, friends to even a bus full of school kids, the Chefs Collaborative created a truly special dining experience. –Jonathon  Susilo ‘18

For the three years that I have lived in Portsmouth, fall in New England has always passed quickly, but we always manage to bring extra festivity to the season of harvest. This year, we celebrated fall with the new Fall Fest at the Abbey, followed by a trip to Chef’sCollaborativ Harvest BBQ at the Schartner Family Farm.

Nothing brings people together like good food. From seafood taverns to coffee roasters, food makers from all sorts of kitchens stand behind their table covered with red-checkered tablecloths. Food lovers stand on the other side of the table, marveling at the creative dishes and trying to stuff more samples in their stomach. Like many of my friends, I enjoyed Nicks on Broadway’s beef sample. The dish was almost a fancier pulled pork (beef) sandwich, perfectly bringing out the theme of BBQ.However, my favorite table was Ellie’s Bakery, a certain supporting role in the event. Their plum & husk cherry galette was a dessert with unpretentious elegance—it does not look as pretty as a macaron, but I discovered its inner beauty under its humble appearance and ate four of them. Best galette ever!

When I held a New Harvest Coffee in my hand, stood by the fire, which was roasting a lamb, and looked out towards the peaceful pond, I wished I could live in that moment forever. Food,fire, and friends together make the most memorable Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island.—Evelyn Long ‘19

This is my second year at the Chefs Collaborative. As always, the food does not disappoint. Just entering the venue, the hardest decision comes already: a whole roasted Vermont Chevronby Tallulah’s Taqueria sizzling with melted fat dripping from perfectly caramelized lamb meat on the left and a whole series of delicacies featuring wood grilled scallops, Blackbird farm beef patties, and Hopkins Southdown lamb meatball subs straight ahead. Not without hesitation, I choose to go straight for the varieties first. Chez Pascal’s turkey breast sandwich is the first thing I take because the line is closest to me, but the food is already worth  multiple times the terrible traffic on the way. I continue my streak with Pastrami cured bluefish fillet pizza, cold fried chicken with smoked apricot drenched in buttermilk, and maitake mushroom panini. By the time I return to the entrance and take the left side this time, I already begin to feel the burden in my stomach. Gracie’s then finishes me off with its spiced lamb kabobs.

The food is comparable to a five-course meal with its delicate decorations and savory taste. Going above and beyond, I grab ten courses, in fact. However, what surprises the most is the raw oyster that we took in the beginning. In China, oysters are usually served grilled with garlic, scallion and rice noodle, with soy sauce topping the dish. Raw oyster is usually stacked in the fridge. However, Rhode Island has the natural geographical advantage and there is no need to transport the oyster in fridge. When eaten raw, oyster gives off a fishy smell and salty taste, very different from the Chinese cooked oyster. It is certainly the interesting to try the raw oyster. –Peter Liu ‘19

I had been to Schartner Farms quite a few times as a kid. Then, I mostly went on hayrides, picked out a pumpkin and indulged in the best pies I’ve ever had. This experience was an entirely new one. The second the bus pulled up and the whole lot of us marched out, my nostrils were filled with a smoky, savory and unforgettable smell. But before I could truly enjoy all the delectable food being offered, I had to jump the hurdle and eat an oyster. So, I threw that back without giving my tongue any time to process what it was tasting and got on with my day. 

The menus were full of tender meats, savory spices, and hearty broths. The real show-stopper of the day: the lamb meatball sandwich. Tragically, this was one of the last dishes I found so I experienced real difficulty in even eating half, but it was so good!Other fantastic dishes I had the opportunity to try were braised beef that just melted in your mouth, and wonderfully garnished lamb skewers. And of course, I had dessert, even if it was the second thing I ate. My favorite: the macarons that I had to force myself to put down. In the midst of this food frenzy, we were even able to meet an Abbey Alum! She was running the Granny Squibbs Iced Tea stand, graduated class of’05, and gave each of us our own bottle to take home.

The amount of food there was almost overwhelming—just almost. I moved from table to table, picking up endless amounts of plates. Once I actually registered what I was doing, I took a breath and really tasted the food. The event was filled with a myriad of cooking styles, flavors and recipes. Watching these dishes being crafted behind the beautiful backdrop was an unforgettable spectacle. –Abigail Gibbons ‘18

Tasty, delicious,palatable—none of these adjectives can sufficiently describe my ecstatic feeling after the first Culinary Art Club trip. As a new member of the club, I hastily rushed back from the fall fest and sprinted to the bus, immediately overwhelmed by warm welcomes from Mr. Calisto and my friends on the bus. 

            After a twenty-minute-drive across the beautiful Newport Bridge, we arrived at a bucolic farm to attend “The Chefs Collaborative” event.The relaxing music and alluring scenery awakened my appetite, and I tried almost all of the dishes in less than twenty minutes. 

            My favorite plates would probably be the grilled scallop and the lamb sandwich. The scallop, lightly grilled, blended perfectly with the seasoning and the sauce. The moment I swallowed it, I tasted the wild saltiness of the ocean, yet in a fresh and conserved manner. The textile of the scallop was also just perfect, neither too loose nor too elastic. The lamb sandwich captured both the freshness of spinach and the unutterable juiciness of the meat, enclosed by incredibly well-baked bread. Both of these plates demonstrate coordination of different taste and materials, blended together by fascinating culinary skills.

            I also loved the coffee and the ice tea they offered,taking several bags of coffee back into my room. After all, my feelings and intuition have prompted me to make a simple conclusion—I am incredibly fortunate to have signed up for this club. Typing the last sentence of my write up on my computer, I can already hear my anticipatory heartbeat that eagerly awaits for the next trip. —David Sun ‘18

Each October, as the leaves start to turn and the summer warmth fades, chefs and culinary aficionados from across New England gather at Schartner Farms in Exeter, Rhode Island for the Annual Rhode Island Harvest BBQ to share food and recipes in celebration of the autumn harvest. Although markedonly by a small folding sign tucked away at the side of the road, after passing through a gate of shrubbery I was amazed by the plethora of tables lining a pond invisible from the street. A single oyster was the first rite of passage for the Culinary Arts Club, a food which I remembered from childhood in a vaguely negative light.

“Sort of,” I replied uneasily, thinking of how I could escape.

“Is this your first time?”, asked the man behind the counter.

“Don’t worry,” he replied, “it tastes like the beach” only adding to my unease.

I found to my amazement, after slurping down the cold,slimy mass, that it did indeed taste exactly like the beach, down to the sand and seaweed. However, the experience was not as wholly unpleasant as what I had braced for. This first appetizer characterized the entire festival for me, and I resolved to taste everything, including things that I would not have dared try a few years earlier. One of my favorite dishes was a cut of beef with smoked maitake mushrooms garnished with a red onion confit from Durk’s BBQ, two out of three components of which I had no idea that I liked. A surprise of a different nature came from Granny Squibb’s Iced Tea, familiar to me from my home supermarket but which I never guessed was based in Rhode Island. The woman at the iced tea booth was not only a Rhode Island native, but a Portsmouth Abbey alumna as well. After the oyster and the tea, a few other club members and myself gathered around the enormous open pit fire at the center of the event, over which some manner of animal was roasting and creating an enticing smell. We soon began a lively debate over the creature’s former identity.

 “Judging by size, I’d think it’s a goat,” I finally declared.

“It’s a goat alright,” a woman to our left said, “It should be good too, I raised it myself.”

This conversation put the idea of the event, and the organization that sponsors it, Chefs’ Collaborative, into focus. Chefs’ Collaborative aims to promote a better food system of local and responsibly grown ingredients by cultivating a dedicated community of chefs and food lovers. The Harvest BBQ captured this principle excellently, not only because of its setting, but through the experiences brought about by the diverse flavors of the local culinary community.—David Sozanski ‘18

The Chefs Collaborative event drew together a crowd of food savvy people, hungry for fine cuisine and quality entertainment. Around 15 different chefs and eateries set up camp on the premises, each delivering a sample of their menu in convenient portions. The food consisted primarily of local New England based ingredients, including avast selection of seafoods. One dish in particular caught my attention, that of chef Rich Silvia of White Horse Tavern. His pastrami cured bluefish on a grilled caraway flatbread with house quick kraut, Swiss fonduta, and his own creation: “Thousand Island Powder.” I have never been fond of bluefish, however my first taste of Chef Silvia’s flatbread changed my mind and then some. His perfectly cured bluefish fillet along with the innovative “Thousand Island Powder” made for an array of tangy and smoky flavors. 

The event had a great showing, and I surely appreciated the wonderful atmosphere provided by Schartner Family Farms.It was an autumn evening for the books, and I couldn’t thank the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Club enough.—Dan Teravainen ‘18

As I ducked slightly towalk through the bushy portal, a world of distinct scent, bustle, and an awesome whole-roast goat captured me. It was my first time at the Chefs Collaborative festival and I have never been to such a grand celebration of food and drink,but I immediately felt comfortable. Before I stood in line for the”mandatory” oyster initiation, I sauntered towards the Granny Squibb’s ice tea bar. With a cup of sweetened Mojito Lime on my hand, I began to explore the variety of New England’s best dishes.   

As a meat-lover, I loved the Durk’s BBQ. The texture of the beef aside, the flavor of smoked maitakes and chimichurri and the mashed potato made the dish perhaps the best. But as I was pondering a second (and probably third) plate, I reminded myself, “quality over quantity!” and forced myself away from Tallulah’s seductions.

Right next to Durk’s I saw White Horse Tavern’s Rich Silvia. I’ve been to White Horse Tavern with Sozanski and my parents before, so I was delighted to see an old friend– a very, very old friend (constructed in 1673). Maybe it was because of my high expectations,but I thought the fillet on flatbread that the house prepared was a little weaker than I expected. For me, the taste of fish was too strong, although the aftertaste of Thousand Island powder was delightful.

The people who were serving or running the festival were also enjoying the whole event, which made the festival far more interesting. The lady who was operating the ice tea bar turned out to be an alumna from the Abbey, and as we discussed the most memorable teachers at the Abbey like Mr. Hobbins and Mr. Chenoweth, I felt a bond, a feeling that could only be universal to Abbey students. Although I’ve never known her, it was like the Abbey experience had serendipitously united the past and future students together. Is this how it feels like to be an alumnus? Also, that she gave each of us a bottle of ice tea as we left was another perk of knowing people.—Jason Lim ‘18

As I crossed the threshold of the small opening between hedges, I was not sure what to expect of my first Chef’s  Collaborative experience. I was greeted with the wafting smoke of an entire goat being roasted on a spit over a fire of charcoal and sweet potatoes, the sizzle of truffle oil and butter being tossed together in a pan, and to my horror, the sound of the blade on an oyster shell as they were being shucked apart. In all of my seventeen years, I had never once so much as touched the rigged shells flecked with particles of silt, let alone prodded the gelatinous contents inside. My jaw dropped as Mr. Calisto and Mrs. Bonin announced our entry to delve deeper into the Collaborative all relied on whether or not we would throw one down the hatch. My palms began to sweat, and my heart pounded against my ribcage as I reached my hands into the ice to grasp the halved shell. I had confirmed my commitment to the Culinary Club and to myself on the 40-minute ride to Exeter, and there was no way I was getting back on that minibus before the time was due.

It took a bit of jumping up and down, and a quick pep talk from the other members of Culinary Arts before I placed a dollop of cocktail sauce upon the oyster meat and squeezed a cold lemon over top. As the oyster slid into my mouth and down into my stomach I had wondered what had taken me so long. The oyster wassalty, and the chilled briny and brackish water dripped down my chin. Combining the salty of the mollusk with the sweet and spicy from the horseradish based cocktail sauce, and the drops of acidic lemon, together all in one delicious bite, I was in heaven. That had been my first oyster, but it certainly would not be my last. I returned to the table a handful of times, and now I can confirm I am no longer a picky eater.– Tatum Bach-Sorensen ‘19

The smoked beef pork biscuit was my favorite at “The Chef’s Collaborative.” The chili vinaigrette sauce moderated the rich taste of the beef. The biscuits were perfect in between crispy and chewy. It contained different flavors, but they all combined really well. I recommend this because it fits most people’s tastes and cannot go wrong.

Durk’s BBQ was my second favorite. The meat was not overcooked at all and was really tender. The sauce was a little bit too rich and too salty. I finished all the mashed potato with half of the meat patty. The mashed potato was smooth and creamy and it complemented the meat very well.

The wood grilled Bomster scallops Hubbard squash, lamb pancetta with sliced apple was the most creative dish by Newport Vineyards. I was surprised the fishy taste and the taste of mutton did not contradict with each other and actually brought a magical chemistry effect. The sweet squash  made spices on the scallop milder while the apple slice (tasted a little sour) made the lamb less flavored. Although the unique taste was really creative, I am not sure if I want to order a whole dish of this. –Sylvie Qiu ‘19

Upon entering the farm, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful views of the pond and the smell of the nearby food cooking. We were greeted by warm conversation and a local band playing nearby.After we all lined up and inhaled a delicious oyster each, I bee-lined for the first table near me. I was incredibly hungry and the smell of the beef and pork fat-chili was calling my name. The little biscuit sandwich was topped with a chili vinaigrette that cut through the fat and added another depth of flavor. 

I was about to continue on eating my dinner until Ellie’s Bakery’s dessert table caught my eye.  I enjoyed the winter squash financier that had little cranberries, autumn olives, and pepitas on top. But I kept going back to their table for their sunflower seed and melon macarons. Not only were their macarons cold and slightly sweet, the shapes were perfect. That is something that I can appreciate because I have tried making macarons more than several times myself and have always made some small mistake with the finicky egg white and almond flour batter. 

While the White Horse Tavern made a unique dish–their pastrami cured bluefish and house quick kraut–others like Metacom Kitchen made dishes that seemed to lack the same amount of effort, which was a single cube of cold fried chicken on a plate.Another dish that made my night was the lamb meatball sub from The East End.The thick Parker house rolls were perfectly toasted and the cranberry chili added an interesting sweetness. On our way out of the farm, I spotted an unmanned stand that sold both hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms, which I later found out supposedly taste like chicken! I wish I had bought some so I could have tried it myself. Overall, the Chef’s Collaborative brought me new ideas and passion for creating something different in the kitchen, and I was also served the best meal of my life.  —India Roemlein ‘19

Chefs Collaborative 2018