brock, mendes, boulud

© Courtesy of Aldea
Sean Brock, George Mendes and Daniel Boulud.

I’m a huge fan of George Mendes, the extraordinarily talented chef at NYC’s Aldea restaurant, not only for his fantastically delicious food (like his awesome duck rice) but also for the true camaraderie he shares with his fellow chefs. Mendes has recently been inviting chefs from around the country to take over his kitchen and cook insanely good dinners. It's a wonderful way to exchange ideas and innovations, and a way for diners to experience some seriously good food without having to hop a plane. Sunday night, I was lucky enough to score a seat for a dinner prepared by Southern talent Sean Brock of McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina. The scene was like a supercool Sunday supper with guests that included chefs Daniel Boulud, Nate Appleman and Paul Liebrandt, alongside other food-obsessed New Yorkers.

Highlights included Brock’s molecular take on classic shrimp-and-grits, studded with Benton’s sausage; a ridiculously flavorful 18-month country ham (made from pigs raised on Brock’s farm) wrapped around goat’s-milk cheese and pimento and paired with a shot of bourbon; and the most divine, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly (supplied by Bev Eggleston) served with heirloom beans.