Supper Club: The Grey Plume
by Jason Volkmer and Natalie Ones
Publisher’s Note: Omega Omega Omega (Tri Omega), the culinary fraternity at the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College, strives to provide students with opportunities to apply and develop their skills through unique experiences. One of these experiences is the Supper Club. The Supper Club selects a restaurant once a quarter and works with the chef of the restaurant to provide a unique dining experience to challenge the palate and minds of the students with the unique ingredients and techniques found in that chef’s kitchen.
During the summer quarter, Tri Omega visited The Grey Plume located in Midtown Crossing. The atmosphere of the Plume is contemporary with hints of traditional décor. The ambiance allows guests to feel relaxed in their fine dining experience, without sacrificing any of the elegance that the Plume has to offer. A window behind the bar provides a peek of the chef’s hustling in the kitchen to create the evening’s delectable courses. Being able to observe the chef’s grace and quick hands in the kitchen adds to the magic of the Plume’s cuisine.
On this night, the students of Tri Omega would be enjoying a seven-course menu featuring some items from the menu, and some crated specifically for Tri Omega.
The first course was the charcuterie board, which is offered on their regular menu. The charcuterie board consisted of artisan cheeses, housemade whole grain mustard, housemade rabbit prosciutto, and fresh fruit. The board was served on a unique, intriguing piece of china that resembled a wooden board. The rabbit prosciutto and whole grain mustard were the favorites among the students.
The next course was a potato soup featuring flavors of leek, truffle, arugula, and navel orange. The soup was served with the flavors delicately placed in the bowl and the potato soup poured into the bowl table side. The flavors were wonderfully fresh and sparked new levels of interest with students. Many of the diners especially loved the presence of supreme citrus, which added a delicacy to the dish that they would not soon forget. Initially, the flavor of truffle disappeared, only later to emerge and complete the effect of the dish on the palate. The students discovered that the most critical part of the dish was the temperature that it was served at. The soup was served chilled to the surprise of some students. However, the soup wasn’t served so cold that it would not numb the palate and hide flavors.
With two exquisite courses now come and gone, the members of Supper Club were anxious to see what else Chapman had in store for them. The chef did not disappoint with a course featuring wagyu beef tartare. The beef is sourced from Majinola Meats in Iowa. The presentation of the dish excited as it came with an array of sauces and purées beautifully arranged with colors of yellow, green fuchsia and orange. The wagyu beef was ground to give a smooth texture and was perfectly seasoned. Served with seasonal vegetables to help lighten the heaviness of the beef, the dish was well-balanced and a superb example to show students how to serve tartare on fine dining level.
The students did not have much time to mentally digest the flavors, technique and complexity of the waygu beef, as the next course arrived and showed how delightful a vegetarian course can be. This course was a vegetarian ragout that showcased fresh and pickled vegetables consisting of radish, beet, snap peas and baby squash with a carrot puree. The dish was wonderfully light and satisfying to the palate. The carrot puree was bright and vibrant on the palate and brought together the other flavors of the dish seamlessly.
Following this captivating concoction of vegetarian cuisine was a seafood course. The star of the dish was a Seldovia Point Sockeye Salmon, complemented by farro, breakfast radish, kale and snap peas. The portion of salmon was perfect for the course and was plated in a clean and simple manner that made it almost too beautiful to eat. The seasoning on the salmon was spot on, making the flavors dance across the palate charmingly. With the gentle press of the sleek and striking cutlery, the salmon flaked apart while resting on a bed of farro. The fresh snap peas were crisp and added a pleasant texture to the mouth feel of the dish.
The last of the savory courses was heritage pork form TD Niche Farm, potato, maitake mushrooms, and heirloom squash. The dish featured pork belly and loin that showcased different textures that complemented one another. The sauce that accompanied the pork elevated the dish to a level that the students had not expected and began to inspire the students’ thinking of sauces that they would try to create for their own dishes.
After completing the savory portion of their culinary journey, the members of Tri Omega began to wonder what Chapman still had up his sleeve to show them for dessert. The final course came in the form of Chapman’s take on a classic dessert that brought back childhood memories for everyone at the table: a s’more. Ice cream rested in a bed of graham cracker crumbles accompanied with chocolate mousse and a lightly toasted marshmallow. The dessert was very light, delicate and decadent. The mousse had the precise amount of sweetness to compliment the ice cream and marshmallow. The ice cream was silky and the graham cracker crumble gave it a delightful crunch.
As the Supper Club came to a conclusion and members slowly left their stimulating culinary adventure of what can be done with food, they were thanked with a house baked cookie for them to enjoy the next morning. The members of this Supper Club were amazed at the level of flavor that Chef Chapman and his staff were able to achieve alongside the level of comfort and elegance provided by the wait staff. For the members of the club that had yet to experience a fine dining level of food and service, new goals and aspirations were made that night. New possibilities were made evident and perhaps a few career paths had been altered.
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