Norman Love, the acclaimed chocolatier, pastry chef and founder of Norman Love Confections, recently partnered with a team of Southwest Florida chefs to bring a meal of culinary excellence to the illustrious James Beard House in New York on Oct. 2. The all-star team of chefs presented a six-course meal to 83 food enthusiasts, of which nearly half were Southwest Florida residents.
Norman Love hand-selected a team of chefs to present a six-course meal, showcasing Southwest Florida native ingredients. The team of accomplished chefs consisted of Fabrizio Aielli, chef/owner of Sea Salt in Naples and St. Petersburg; Harold Balink, chef/owner of Cru in Fort Myers; George Fistrovich, executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples; Todd Johnson, chef/owner of Rumrunners in Cape Coral; and Ryan Love of Norman Love Confections.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to bring our unique tastes and talents together for a special evening of culinary distinction, and this experience was made all the better by working with a team of such phenomenal chefs and friends,” Norman Love said. “It is a privilege to serve the guests of the James Beard House, and we are especially honored to have so many Southwest Florida natives in attendance to enjoy our tribute to Florida.”
The exclusive evening of fine dining included hors d’oeuvres and six culinary courses that paid homage to the chefs’ hometown through the incorporation of Florida native produce and meats provided by Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm.
Balink kicked-off the evening with a Rosy Tomorrows chicken pâté and port gelée starter, followed by the first main plated course of pan-seared black grouper, flash-sautéed Rosy Tomorrows Everglades tomatoes, crispy oyster and buttery Florida orange sauce, served with a 2013 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc.
Aielli plated a savory Murray River Salt macaroon with Florida spiny lobster and foie gras as his hors d’oeuvre, followed by a second course of Pine Island octopus ink ravioli stuffed with free-range chicken, white truffles, homemade ricotta, Venus clam ragù and liquid egg yolk, paired with a 2012 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.
Johnson began with a savory sesame cone topped with red wattle pork rillettes and mascarpone mousse. He then prepared a succulent Rosy Tomorrows heritage pork belly, joined with mint marigold saltimbocca tenderloin and pig shoulder confit with butternut squash, paired with a 2011 Evenstad Reserve Domaine Serene Pinot Noir.
Fistrovich’s hors d’oeuvre was a spaghetti made from Gulf shrimp mousse, combined with cabbage Fistrovich grew himself, and topped with Sarasota Mote sturgeon caviar. The starter was followed by Jackman Ranch beef cheeks, barbecued hearts of palm, charred corn cloud in the flavors of esquite (a Northern Mexican dish), boniato and preserved chop box cabbage leaves, paired with a 2011 Cal White Toro Tempranillo.
Norman Love Confections’ father and son duo created a pre-dessert of chilled Florida strawberry consommé, crème fraiche panna cotta and lemon basil macaron glace, showcasing the fruits of Florida. The evening was concluded with a Bittersweet Chocolate and Tropical Experience, a collaboration between Norman and Ryan Love, served with an Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2012 Bolgheri.