Last week , we teamed up with our fabulous, generous friends at Poste Moderne Brasserie for a unique new fundraiser event: the Sugar Showdown. The event featured some of DC’s top pastry talent getting together for a friendly competition and guests enjoying an evening of sweets and bubbly on the patio, all to benefit Brainfood. These amazing chefs whipped up imaginative, seasonal desserts for judges and guests to sample, and we all got to cast our votes for the winner. Guests enjoyed champagne and small savory bites by Poste chef Kyoo Eom, along with the phenomenal treats featured in the competition, and a wonderful time was had by all.
Of course, these chefs couldn’t make just anything! We all know a cooking competition is no fun without a limiting parameter or challenge of some kind. The theme for the Sugar Showdown was both literal and conceptual in nature, and it’s a concept that I found extremely compelling: roots. The chefs interpreted this to mean culinary roots, family roots, community roots and actual roots -- as in, root vegetables. So what’s a dessert chef to do with the theme of roots? Well, these contestants had some pretty creative solutions:
Poste Moderne's Casto Unson, served a purple yam éclair with candied kumquat and rosemary oolong tuile, which he explained that his dish was inspired by his Filipino heritage and the flavors profiles of the cuisine he grew up with. Trummer's On Main's Deborah Brown served a carrot pecan cake with a citrus glaze and a cream cheese parfait (plus a salted beet chip as a garnish!) and her display table included an old heirloom cookbook, yellowed and frayed, opened to the page of the cake she featured. Chef Caitlin Dysart of the restaurant 2941 served a ginger root budino on a carrot walnut cake with carrot confit, which was the crowd favorite, winning the “people’s choice” award of the evening. Meredith Tomason of Rare Sweets spoke about the Italian side of her family using pistachio in many desserts, which she featured as a garnish on her chilled rhubarb soup with vanilla bean and licorice root semifreddo, the dish that won the “judges choice” award in the competition.