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RapidBlog: Chef Olympics, by Laurel DeRuda




Laurel DeRuda is the Executive Chef at Honey Creek Inn.

"Holy guacamole, Batman, it’s Restaurant Week again!" is what I said in May, when Restaurant Week Grand Rapids requested our menus for 2012. We start very early to hammer out those recipes that will set us apart from the variety of choices one is facing when deciding where to dine during what I think of as Chef Olympics (cue theme song).
 
I should say that menu development started with Restaurant Week last year, as one of the finalists for my menu didn’t make it in and was promised a spot in this year’s ‘routine.' The theme of our menu this year is ‘Around the World through the Fruits of our Neighbors,' emphasizing the truly local nature of our creations spun into a World Cuisine fusion. Last year, Lambsagna was overtaken by Magumbo (Cajun gumbo over mashed potatoes) as my team -- Don, Honey Creek’s owner, Kevin, my sous chef and Rob, my lead line cook -- unanimously chose it for its performance as a Weekend Special.
 
After the routine was ironed out, I contacted my purveyors to be sure that I could execute the moves I had choreographed. I talked to Farmer Dave at Ingraberg Farms about what he could assure me would be harvestable from August 15 through 25. I made arrangements with my fish guy at Superior to be sure I would have local steelhead. I met with my Sysco rep to see that quail eggs would be available. And the lady around the corner from The Honey Creek Inn who has the giant black walnut tree. And the 4H member growing his lamb for us. Well, you get the picture… It was an Olympic Village for sure!
 
Like the Olympics, Restaurant Week is a grueling period of competition. The test is not just performing well, but performing well in front of a bigger crowd.
 
 
And so we train, practicing the recipes, the presentations, teaching the staff how to perform each move, all in preparation for the Big Week. Restaurant Week Grand Rapids lasts 11 days--- a marathon of artistry and perfection.  
 
As much as we are on stage for this event, my team performs as if it were Restaurant Week every day, treating every plate as their chance for gold in the daily competition that is the restaurant biz.
 
Honey Creek Inn’s Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2012 Menu:
1 person / $25
 
1st Course
Gazpacho (Vegan, Gluten Free)
Andalusian Chilled Tomato Soup
Ingraberg Farm’s Heirloom Tomatoes, Heirloom Garlic, Backyard Herbs
 
Scotch Quail Eggs
Breaded Deep Fried Quail Egg
Cannonsburg Farm Fresh Quail Eggs. Grist Mill Honey Garlic Sausage, Ingraberg Farm’s Heirloom Garlic Aioli with Backyard Herbs
 
Gravlax Quesadilla
Cured Salmon in Grilled Flour Tortilla with Onion Dill Relish
House Cured Salmon With Tru North Potato Vodka, Backyard Herbed Mascarpone Cheese
 
2nd  Course
 
Lambsagna
Lasagna with Lamb and the flavors of Greece
Lowel HS 4H Lamb, Ingraberg Farm’s Heirloom Tomatoes, Backyard Herbs, Fresh Pasta, and Sauce Bechamel
 
Vegetable Sushi (Vegan, Gluten Free)
Baby Summer Vegetables rolled with Sushi Rice in Nori
House made Ingraberg Farm Napa Cabbage, Kim Chee and Wakame Salad
 
Steelhead Osso Buco
Braised Steelhead Steak with Ingraberg Farm’s Heirloom Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery and Lemon. Sauce Gremolata and Saffron Risotto Cake.
 
3rd Course
Banna Pot de Crème (Gluten Free)
Creamy Banana Custard with Caramel, Cannonsburg Black Walnuts and Banana Chips
 
Frozen Lemon Soufflé
Delicate Lemon Soufflé on Kristie’s Homemade Lemon Cookie Crust
 
Award Winning Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
Double Chocolate Raspberry Swirl, White and Milk Chocolate Ganaches
Michigan Raspberries
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