Back in May, Rob and I were at a charity silent auction and successfully bid on a dinner for four from Valerie. We invited our friends Jeff and Sara to join us because the four of us watched nearly every episode of Top Chef 4 together. We ended up picking July 21 as the date for the dinner to suit all of our schedules. The fact that it was also my birthday was an awesome bonus.
Valerie arrived at Jeff and Sara's (we picked their place instead of ours because they have an amazing kitchen) around 6pm. Rob and I showed up shortly after. As Valerie cooked, she shared with us lots of thoughts about Top Chef. We asked her lots of questions about the show and her fellow contestants. She was very open about her unique experience. Although what's talked about at Top Chef dinners, stays at Top Chef dinners!!
Our first course was a fish course -- halibut with sweet potato puree, sweet peas, bok choy, and a miso glaze. I'm not sure you could have designed a better dish for me. It was delicious.
Then we moved on to the main course -- pork loin over Asian noodles with asparagus and plums in a light, spicy plum glaze. Again, it was a total wow. Perfectly cooked pork. Perfect sweet-spiciness. The plums were phenomenal. Easily the best pork dish I've ever had.
Course 2 -- Pork.
Then came dessert. I'd told Valerie in advance she could go with a creamy dessert, despite Rob's preferences to the contrary, because creamy desserts are my absolute favorite and Valerie was dutifully avoiding creamy foods for the rest of the meal. I'm so glad I did because I have never had better cheesecake in my life. The dessert was topped with fresh whipped cream and fresh cherries in a cherry sauce.
All in all, it was an amazing meal. It was very fun getting to know Valerie in person. She has a lot more personality than we'd seen on the show. It was truly the audience's (and Bravo's!) loss that she didn't stick around longer on Top Chef 4. And we got a second starstruck moment when Top Chef 4 winner Stephanie called Valerie as Valerie was getting ready to leave. Too crazy.
If any of you are looking for a fantastic privately cooked meal, let me know. I will happily pass along Valerie's contact info with our highest recommendations!!!
Rob, Valerie and me post-dinner. (Yup, I am actually taller than her!)
The whole dinner party -- Sara, Jeff, Valerie, me and Rob.
* If you catch the title reference, then hopefully you agree that Autumn totally should have won!