When you think of convention food, it’s safe to say that a fine-dining-quality meal is not what comes to mind. And rightfully so. Imagine catering a large event with hundreds of attendees to serve. Sure, the food may be fitting but certainly not memorable or even remotely impressive.
Well, it’s time to change the perception of convention center food. Enter Chef Nick Walker, the culinary genius at Cobb Galleria Centre who’s raising the bar on convention center fare by re-imagining dishes with 5-star renditions inspired by his Georgia roots.
And luckily for me, I was invited back to Chef Nick’s kitchen for an exclusive Chef’s Table event. Sitting amongst other Atlanta-area influencers, I waited patiently for my palate to be endlessly surprised—I can always count on Chef Nick to introduce me to new flavors and pairings, two things I was immensely looking forward to this time around.
Craft-y Brews & Fine Food
This year’s Chef’s Table was a flavor-packed 6-course meal paired with beers from Monday Night Brewing. I never really thought you could pair brews with food, but Chef Nick definitely proved it’s possible to make an amazing meal even better with the perfect pairing. Who knew!
The first course was an Amuse Bouche: a tasty ginger crab fritter (you guys know how much I love seafood) topped with an unexpected but delicious spicy banana puree. The beer paired with this course was a Belgian Style Wit called Fu Manbrew… Lol, such a punny name!
Second in the lineup was a Duck and Blood Orange Salad, a mix of frisée, spent grain cracker, and fennel, topped with a blood orange vinaigrette. Take a guess at what the beer pairing was… O.K. I’ll tell you! It was none other than a Blood Orange IPA named Blind Pirate. Bet you didn’t see that one coming! 😉 (I’ll show myself out…) 😀
Since I love seafood so much, I got super excited when I saw the third course on the menu: a fish stew. The Serrano Eye Patch Bouillabaisse featured monkfish, clams, snapper, and fresh rock shrimp, seasoned wonderfully with pineapple, saffron, and serrano aioli. The matching beer, of course, was Monday Night Brewing’s Serrano Eye Patch Ale (an Indian Pale Ale).
The fourth course a was sweet palate cleanser of sorts, switching gears to a Borsch Pear Sorbet with dried lemon and a honey kissed pear, washed down with the Gun Show, a Belgian-Style Golden Ale.
Challenging flavor profiles yet again, Chef Nick served up some amazing Vanilla Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks—a dish that makes you feel like a high-profile food critic. Completing this plate were trumpets, Carolina rice grits, heirloom carrot, wilted greens, and cocoa. This dish was certainly a funky Southern twist on the traditional Japanese beef, and I loved every bite of it! We had a Scotch Ale called Drafty Kilt with this one.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end… And when our final dish eventually arrived, I was not disappointed! My sweet tooth had a treat with the Hazelnut Cigar featuring smoked dark chocolate, malted sweet cream, caramel, and hazelnut powder. YUM. And the beer pairing couldn’t have been more perfect: the Toasted Hazelnut Imperial Stout.
I was beyond satisfied with this generous and innovative 6-course meal prepared by Chef Nick and his team. I absolutely love getting to experience freshly imagined flavors and learn how to better pair alcohols with meals. It’s truly the 5-star treatment! I want to send the most sincere thanks to Chef Nick and Cobb Galleria Centre for making my belly happy as well as a thank you to the Atlanta Food & Lifestyle Bloggers Society for the invite.