Creating a Chef's Table
Coming up with an exceptional menu for each Chef's Table event here at Country Club of Boyne is no easy feat. For Chef Dean Grill, it all starts with an inspiration. And, for this coming weekend's event that inspiration was waking up New Year's Day, to 6" of fresh powder and a picture sent to him of snow angels. His mind immediately went to his childhood, and all he loved about winter and voila: Northern Michigan Nostalgia and A Winter Wonderland.
Being a chef committed to sourcing the majority of his foodstuffs from local and regional producers can be a real challenge, especially in the winter. So with this theme on his mind, he contacted all his sources to see what they have available, and made a list of those items that have potential to fit into the experience he is trying to create. List in hand, Chef Dean went to his board to start to layout his master plan, something he does religiously for every event, to ensure that no detail is forgotten.
Before actually solidifying the menu, Chef Dean really takes into account that his guests are not coming just for a quick meal and sustenance, but for a memorable dining experience. He carefully processes through not only the ingredients, but also how he wants to present and serve each dish. Being such an intimate setting (each event is limited to 14) getting the guests to not only interact with him, but with each other is critical. Special care is taken when developing each course, to encourage this, it may be served family style, on small plates or be some outrageously creative platings, which are sure to get the guest talking. As the meal begins to take shape and the board begins to fill up, he also reflects upon his inspiration and really tries to pay homage to old school cuisine, those winter comfort foods we all loved, but with new techniques, and unique twists.
As if you couldn't imagine more thought going into one meal, he doesn't stop there. He wants to make sure the dining experience touches on all 5 senses. He wants his guests to taste an unforgettable meal; to smell the meats in the smoker; to hear the flambé in the sauté pans; to touch the food and help in finishing the dishes as they come to the table; and of course, unique to this event, to see first-hand the meal being created in the kitchen or with some dishes table side, since guests to the Chef's Table get the best seat in the house, in a private room right off the kitchen.
And finally, near and dear to his heart, Chef Dean wants to make sure that he has something for everyone, that even the most finicky palette leaves satisfied and that all the guests were made to feel as if they just had a wonderful meal at home with friends.