November 3rd, 2012 will probably be my favorite memory from 2012. Everything about the day was perfect. From getting ready with a good friend from high school, to hanging out with Leah and Jessica and other girlfriends throughout the night; I could not have asked for a better day to celebrate the Centennial of the West Side Market.
Leah and I made a fantastic decision in cabbing it over to the Market for the gala around 6:30. It was such a different experience going to the Market on a Saturday night, dressed up, in heels that were so not comfortable. Usually my trips to WSM are Saturday mornings, in comfy clothes ready to do grocery shopping. Our excitement level increased throughout the day and when we pulled up to check-in, it was at a high to say the least. Walking down the produce arcade and seeing some of my Cleveland favorites (Rocco…Chris…Brian…)behind the stands, preparing food for us, made me so proud of our Cleveland chefs. The time, energy and resources that they put into this event didn’t go unnoticed.
After Jess’s interview with TV20, we headed into the Market House to wander, try more food and while debating our next stop, looked to our left where Michael Symon and his wife Lizzie were serving up food, talking to guests and signing autographs. Michael was sweet (just like last week!), chatted with us, took pictures and signed our programs. Again – bucket list – check! Michael’s love for the city just warms my heart.
While heading over to the event tent for the program and more beverages, we ran into another favorite chef and the other co-chair along with Michael Symon, Jonathon Sawyer. Again – the love he has for Cleveland and the amount of time and energy he put into this event….well, it just makes me proud to know him and his wife.
The food we were served:
April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig) – chicken liver parfait with madiera jelly on toast
Britt-Marie Culey (Coquette Patisserie) – local rutabaga & carrot mousse with ohio maple and ligonberry gelee
Summer Genetti (Lola) – dark chocolate gluten free cupcake with salted caramel ganache and chocolate covered potato chip
Carla Hall (The Chew) – grilled gruyere cheese sandwich on raisin walnut toast with butternut squash soup
Chris Hodgson (Hodge’s) – miso glazed hanger steak (which I’ve had before and is one of my most favorite things ever….menu item soon Chris? Please?!)
Paul Kahan (The Publican) – pork loin with albacore, pickled baby peaches and greens
Jenn Louis (Lincoln Restaurant) – buckwheat gnocchi with jacobsen oregonian salt
Paul Minnillo and Matt Mytro (Flour) – tagliatelle ragu, alla bolognese
Michael Ruhlman and Brian Goodman – eastern caroline pork bbq (another top dish for me)
Jonathon Sawyer, Matt Danko, Brian Reilly (The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat) – rasted capon with foie gras and caviar steam bun
Michael Solomonov and Erin O’Shae (Percy Street Barbeque) – smoked brisket sandwich (as good as it sounds)
Michael Symon (Lola, Lolita) – root vegetable ravioli (in my top 3 for the night)
Marc Ventri and Jeff Michaud (Alla Spina) – mortadella hot dogs with spicy pickles
Rocco Whalen (Fahrenheit) – lobster tempura
Eric Williams and Tom Burke (Momocho) – crusted tuna toastada with candied jalapeno and blood orange marmalade
Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) – chinese braised spare ribs
Reaching the event tent, we headed right over for more signature drinks (which all were delicious) and prepared for the program, hosted by WKYC’s Kris Pickle and Russ Mitchell. Featuring speeches by Councilman Martin Sweeney and Matt Zone, and one of my favorites – Councilman Joe Cimperman. There were at least two times during his speech where I started to tear up.
My favorite quote from the night: “Food is Love. Tonight is Love. There are no hurdles to the next 100 years.” If you want to see a person passionate about Cleveland, Ohio City and the West Side Market – look no further than Councilman Cimperman.
The chefs from the evening gathered on stage, both local chefs and national chefs, to toast to the previous 100 years and the next 100 years. Chefs Symon and Sawyer were up next with their words. Chef Symon mentioned that while some of the chefs were unable to make it due to Hurricane Sandy, after making some calls, more chefs actually signed on to help out than originally were expected. The surprise chefs included Chef Waxman and Chef Carla Hall (The Chew!).
The quote of the night from Chef Symon: “The best thing about Cleveland is that almost everybody that lives here is from here”.
Billy Harris served as the auction emcee, raising an additional $50,000+ on some fantastic auction items (trust me, if I could have bid on some of these, I totally would have): an After-hours trip to the West Side Market, a Trip to Philadelphia including dinner at Alla Spina and lunch at Brauhaus, a Driftwood Private Party Package including dinner at all of the Driftwood Restaurants and a private party with chefs Chris Hodgson and Scott David Kuhn, a Cleveland Getaway with dinner at Lolita and suites at both a Cavs and Browns game, A Chew Up NYC package with Chef Symon, dinner at Chef Waxman’s Barbuto and a visit to The Chew. Billy made sure to get the most he could out of the audience.
Post-auction, Lounge Kitty was back up to provide more entertainment and plenty of music for dancing. Our group of girls were back on the floor, despite sore feet, dancing away and singing our hearts out with the lead singer. Looking over to our right we saw Carla Hall, who saw our circle of girls and came over and danced in the middle of all of us, making a memory that none of us will forget any time soon. Some of my favorite quotes that came out during dancing included “This feels like my birthday – except better!” “This is like the BEST wedding reception I’ve ever been to!”.
Of course, in between all the program, we had to hit up the Great Lake’s Brewing Company commemorative brew – The Butcher’s Brew. The lager was delicious and was also one of the gifts given to all of the attendees (though I won’t be drinking that one – the 20 oz. is too nice of a gift). We each also received a commemorative print that I cannot wait to frame and either place in my office or in my “wall of Cleveland” in my home.
Post-gala, we were invited to the after-party hosted by Noodlecat. It was a great after-party, allowing for more mingling with some of the chefs and allowing us to all catch up with one another some more. Chef Sawyer and his team provided awesome snacks and drinks (and jello shots…).
I can’t say thank you enough to all of the chefs, the vendors at the West Side Market, sponsors, city politicians, and so many donors that made this evening one that I will never forget.