5 course demo

Joined Oct 18, 2007
I am pursuing a much coveted job in the area, Chef at the Ingomar Club.
The last Chef was there 17 years and is now retired.
I am doing a demo next Tuesday and think I have a good start to my menu but am coming up short for dessert ideas.
I need to prepare a demo plate as well as 20-30 tasting samples for the board.
Here is what I have so far:

Curry Peanut Prawns in Filo
Prosciutto and Roasted Mango Bruschetta
Basil-Orange Scallops on the half shell

Silky Corn Chowder with Smoked Salmon
Creamy Carrot with Dill

Grilled Salmon with Cilantro Pesto and a Stone Fruit Compote

Chevre Crusted Rack of Lamb with Port Reduction (using Cypress Grove's "Humboldt Fog" goat cheese, yum).


1. ?
2. ?

I could use some ideas for dessert as well as input on the menu.
I realize that I have salmon twice and a lot of seafood, but this is the Pacific Northwest, and I need to feature local items, which is why I chose the Cypress Grove cheese.
My other option for meat would be a Horseradish Crusted Filet Mignon, again with a reduction.
I do hate to add sauces to a nice steak, but whatever.

I am trying to bridge the gap between the old guard and the new....the old are meat & potatoes, a nice steak and a baker makes them happy...the new want smaller, more elegant portions.

For dessert, I was thinking either a nice chocolate moussecake, or a fresh berry tart, but to be honest, desserts aren't my specialty.

I look forward to any input you all can offer.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
chocolate moussecake reads like something out of a wholesale freezer case.

Something chocolate, something not.

Poached pears with caramel.....easy, light, hits the diet conscience and gives you local product

Dark Chocolate tart (?) works for the chocolohics on the list.
Joined Oct 18, 2007
I guess that does sound generic.
It's just that I have a great recipe for chocolate mousse....maybe I can use it in a tart.
I like the poached pear idea.

We have local apple growers.....maybe a baked apple, wrapped in puff pastry and the core filled with cinnamon, sugar and pecans?
Joined Feb 13, 2008

Conventional wisdom when confronted with two desserts is one chocolate and one fruit.

If you can handle it, and it's iffy for what's essentially a catered rather than chef's meal, I'd go retro on the chocolate with chocolate souffle with a creme anglaise sauce. Another possibility, much easier for multiple servings, is a mousse au chocolate made with a Mexican chocolate like Abuelita or Ibarra plus a healthy dose of a California pot still brandy. I've had good success with the mousse and feel pretty good about recommending it -- but want to let you know up front that the additions that make Mexican chocolates so wonderful also make it grainy.

On the fruit -- I'd might go with a tart, either tatin or lemon. More likely lemon because it's springish. Or, if you want to show some rustic chops, a good idea considering the rest of your menu -- a gallette with local fruit like the apples you mention. Your apple dumpling thing is pretty inspired and may be best of all.

A few comments on the rest of your menu -- which by the way I think is great. I really like the way you mix levels of sophistication. Anyway, what follows are thoughts more than oughttas or criticisms:

If you didn't feel iffy on two salmons, I don't think you would have mentioned it. IMO, it's a risk. Also, you have four fish and no poultry in an area with exceptional local poultry. Duck, especially. Got any duck starters in your repertoire? Pull the shrimp for a petit timbale of (Thai) green curry duck, perhaps? How 'bout a duck taco amuse bouche? I'd do one of these. Also, I notice the absence of anything intensely chili. Whuffo you do dat?

Scallops are wonderful, but might be at the end of their popularity for an audience as sophisticated as yours. Like risotto, they're kind of chef-school 101. Also, I wasn't aware of scallop banks around there. What about Humboldt or Bodega Bay oysters? You can get them fresh out of the water on the day of your dinner. They're still well in season.

There are other smoked fish besides salmon. If I were married to every other seafood in your menu, that's the one I'd change first. Keep the chowder, but lose the salmon. Haddock, halibut, cod, bass, trout, sturgeon -- all would be more interesting than salmon. And less duplicative at that. The one thing to watch out for is the differing salt levels different fish absorb during their pre-smoke brining. Whether it's higher or lower than salmon, you'll have to adjust.

Anyway, on the smoked fish and the scallops I'd definitely have a heart to heart with the fish dude or dudette.

If you were almost anywhere else, I'd ask, why grilled salmon? Eureka Steelhead, you'd say. Steelhead, I'd say. Yeah, and Chinook too, you'd say. Am I invited?

For most groups beef is safer than lamb, but probably not yours. I think the lamb choice is great. That having been said, if I were to go beef, I'd stay away from filet mignon unless I were doing something absolutely classic, Escoffier-esque and Pelliprat-ish calling for filet. Tournedos Rossini, for instance. A classic might not be a bad choice. Otherwise, for your horseradish crusting there are sexier cuts.

Buena suerte,
Joined Oct 18, 2007
Thank you for your input, all very good points.

That's what I was thinking about duplicate salmon.
As far as duck, that was my first choice, but during the interview process, when I asked about the format of the demo, he laid it out as appetizers, 2-3, soup course, 2 options, a fish course and a meat course, beef or lamb, as well as a couple of desserts.

I have heard what the two previous demo menus have consisted of, and one did feature lamb, but I was expecting mine to be better received.
I wanted to do duck after the fish, a breast with herbed wheatberries, but I'll see if I can incorporate it into the starters, instead of the scallops.
You're right, no local scallops, but I was shying away from the oysters because some people are just turned off by the mere thought of them, while scallops are usually better received.

As far as dessert I was thinking like everyone else, chocolate and fruit.
I do have a nice souffle recipe that I'm comfortable with, with the molten center.
Joined Feb 13, 2008

I edited my previous post -- I don't know that I made different points, just cleaned them up a bit.

The souffle is, I think, a winner if you throw in a creme anglaise. And the creme will work with your apple dumpling (or a tarte tatin) as well. Nice contrast.

If it wasn't following a grilled salmon, I'd suggest a "Santa Maria" style top sirloin (not tri-tip!) for mains. You know, big hunks slow grilled over live oak. Is there anything more California? But it's one grill on top of another. Too much grill. Any room to make the salmon a little more urbane and complex? That way you'd have a simple red meat -- something everyone likes. California coastal valley barbecue is mother's milk to me, but may not be your thing.

I feel you on the scallop/oyster thing, but we're talking appetizers of which there will be several options. One thing that used to be done around Bodega Bay was grill oysters until their shells just opened then serve on the shell with a mignonette. Good stuff.



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Since you are in Washington, how about fruit with Hogue Cellars Late Harvest Reisling Sabayon? :D
Joined Oct 18, 2007
Thanks again Chef.
I reread your original post as well as your followup.

I think I will go with the oysters with the mignonette instead of the scallops it's simple yet very good.

The creme anglaise will add a nice contrast to the souffle, and I'll throw in a few fresh berries, the blackberries are looking pretty good lately.

I think I'm going to stay with the lamb, but am rethinking the salmon a bit.
I am contemplating going with a Tazmanian Salmon from the Honolulu Fish Company.
Why not local you ask?
Well, as fate would have it, the local early salmon season was cancelled.
Also, I have a source who told me that at least one board member and his wife are really high on the Tazmanian Salmon, so there would be a couple of positive votes at the tasting right off the bat.
My other option would still be with that company, but get a combo box of 4 types of fish, including the Taz Salmon of course, and doing a mixed grill for the seafood course.
I think the mixed grill could still work with the stone fruit/cilantro pesto, but I might switch that to serving it with a mesclun mix and a fruit vinaigrette. Not sure though, this is definitely a work in progress.
Joined Feb 13, 2008

This whole thing is sounding seriously good.

I really like your fish mixed grill. The stone fruit thing was excellent, so is the mesculun thing, but why choose when you don't hafta? The mixed grill gives you an opportunity to showcase several sauces and presentations. Why limit your bad self? Perhaps a derivative based on a mere veloute or hollandaise in there to show your classic chops? We had a thread going on that included some rumination on allemandes. Who knows? Maybe sauce blond and Parisienne are ready for comebacks. But that would be seriously pushing it. Even for Eureka. :smokin

Anyway, I'm getting the blind munchies. Must be a contact high.

Wish I could be there to dice the mirepoix,
Joined Aug 11, 2000
one of the better desserts I've had was a 3 layer chocolate mousse....white, milk, dark with mexican/booze flavorings in each....served with a warm charisso (sp?)

Cookies, coming back strong around here.....
last night I served a bosc pear poached in Gervertztiminer (ugh sp?)
with caramel and amarettis (plain simple almond paste, egg whites, sugar topped with pinenuts).

This may be a stupid question but are you preparing this tasting solo or do you have a team? Are you bringing in dishes prepped or cooking all on site?
That's a lot of plating.
Joined Oct 18, 2007
I believe I get the assistance of their cooks, but they will also be serving lunch, so I don't know how much help I'll actually receive.
I figure it's an all day affair.
At this time I'm planning on doing all of the work on site.
Yep, lots of plating.
One demo plate with 20-30 tasters, and things like the dessert might as well be full plates, I really don't want to make little tasters for those.
Maybe it's just me, but I want the tasting plates to look almost as good as the actual demos.

They do have 4 ice cream makers on site, so I may incorporate the use of them into the dessert.
Rosepetal and honey sounds kind of spring-y, doesn't it?


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Uhm, BDL pointed out to me that Eureka was in California. I knew that. Really. :)
Joined Dec 8, 2003
try making dessert tapas even a few petit fours

using a sponge cake you could make a few variations

tiramisu, layered with citrus butter cream, choco mouse

maybe a few mini strudels, nice when they see you can work with puff

or filo dough,

a few dessert wontons or empanadas with cream cheese mousse (peanut butter, banana, ect) or fruit

creme brulee spoons mini chocolate mousse spoons or ramekins

even a frozen souffle in a ramekin


desserts shots are huge now

IM me if you need more ideas
Joined Aug 11, 2000
kinda a reality check....you are walking into a working kitchen with your products to make multiple dishes/desserts within a work day. So, assuming you are solo in a busy space, using equipment in use. Baking time, cooling time for desserts.

Personally I'd treat it like an event. Bring everything prepped ready to finish and plate. Desserts done as far as possible with backup just in case.
Garnish, even some presentation smallwares.....

A busy working kitchen where you don't know where things are, nor who has time to assist you. Nope, too much riding on an unknown environment.

*Learned the hardway, was promised support staff for an out of state event and gee, they just were not there for the length of time necessary......I could have very easily brought someone with me. Just keeps coming back if you don't learn it the first time....or the second time.....or......

May not be a bad idea to spring for a couple of guys to help you.
Joined Oct 18, 2007
Well. I'm sure everyone is wondering how it went.
First off, it was postponed until today, and I got home about 1/2 hour ago.

My appetizers were a hit, the Curry Peanut Prawns in Filo with a honey soy glaze wa the favorite.
They liked the Prosciutto and Roasted Mango Bruschetta.
I went with a duck taco to round it out, a little tex-mex seasoning on the duck breast ( I didn't have time for confit), similar seasoning in the vinaigrette that I tossed the mesclun in, on a mini corn tortilla shell, topped with dried cherries and pine nut.
I really wanted pomeganate seeds, but, well, it's not the season.
But they liked that as well.

I did the Silky Corn Chowder, but without the Smoked Salmon.
Rave reviews.
Creamy Carrot with Dill, again, everyone loved it.

For the fish course I made the Grilled Salmon with Cilantro Pesto and a Stone Fruit Compote.
However, since there is no current salmon season due to low runs, I went with Tazmanian salmon, and when I introduced it and explained what it was, everyone got a case of big eyes.
Of course they loved it.

Meat course was the Chevre Crusted Rack of Lamb with Port Reduction Another hit.

Here's where things took a slight turn for the worse.
My first dessert offering, the chocolate souffle, fell.
Also, the sugar never cooked out, so it was gritty.
I'll have to think about what I did wrong, as I was very comfortable with this recipe and have had no problems in the past.

The final dessert, the fresh fruit tart, was enjoyed, and allowed me to finish on a positive note (I'm sure glad I didn't finish with the souffle).
I blind baked the tartlet shells, painted the inside with semi-dark chocolate, half filled with creme anglaise, arranged a nice assortment of fruits and berries, and glazed with a thinned apricot jam.

When I went out at the end, I received a round of applause as I arrived, and as I left, and everyone was all smiles.

All in all, I am happy, but to tell the truth, the souffle will always bug me.

On a side note: Shroomgirl, your points were valid, and had it been possible, I would've attempted any or all of your suggestions.
I knew all to well the negative possibilities, but just didn't have any extra time.
I didn't help that my graveyard cook walked out the night before, causing me to go in and cover until the am cook arrived.

I was told that I could arrive as early as 8am and get into the kitchen.
I arrived at that time and had to wait until 8:15.
Not that long, but for this type of event, every minute can count.
I received a little help throughout the day, but the original Chef had put in his two weeks notice the day I was interviewed and they let him go immediately, and the interim Chef borrowed from another restaurant had more things to worry about than just me, as he was running this place and his own place as well.
But what he did was a help.
I had the help of one cook between 5pm and 9pm, which was great.
Dinner started at 7, so she helped me fine tune everything prior to the start.
So yeah, while it went pretty well, I did think I'd get more help.
I didn't stop all day, didn't eat except to taste what I was preparing, and was cramping up by mid-day.

We'll see what happens from here.
Thanks again for everyone's input.
Joined Feb 13, 2008

Zee souffle she went pouffle. Ow you zay in zee ahnglaish, merde? Pinche mierda?

It was probably the weather, or the oven. Anyway, it showed a set of stones to even try a souffle. Considering how well the remainder of the meal went, I'm sure the hiring committee will hold you in the highest regards. Your meal sounded delicious, and it's preparation herculean. Congratulations on both of those.

Fingers crossed for you,
Joined Oct 18, 2007
That cracked me up.
Merde is right.

I'm my own worst critic, so any mistakes bother me.
I'm not egotistical, just have a strong desire for perfection.
Joined Oct 18, 2007
I know everyone has been spending sleepless nights wondering how this all turned out.
Well, it looks like I didn't get the job.
No official word, but they did bring in a Chef on a trial basis, and now have hired an Executive Chef to work over him.
I'm pretty good at reading between the lines, so I think the fact that they haven't called and have also hired 2 Chefs means I'm out of the running.
See how intuitive I am?

The trial Chef is a younger guy who has been a private Chef, and is a family friend of the previous president.
He was the first one to demo, and I believe he was in line for the position the whole time.
Once being brought in he flailed, not knowing simple things, like whether or not Sysco carries chicken.
The new Exec. has been in the area awhile and has a good rep, so he was probably a good choice.

All the while, they have been having other restaraunts cater their events, including Easter and Mother's day, but I assume that will change now that they have their Chef.

It was a good experience for me, and maybe next time I won't be so ambitious with the dessert.
Maybe creme brulee or a Napolean of some sort, something I can do in my sleep.

Again, thank you all for you input, comments, and overall support.
Joined Nov 22, 2007
Yum, indeed. I love that stuff!:lips:
If you got a minute, I'd like to here your procedure for preparing that dish.


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