Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chef Jam Rocked My Night!

Sunday night was one of my favorite Cleveland food events - Chef Jam. Chef Jam features over 20 of our area's best chefs and restaurants, but with a twist. The event is hosted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, and each restaurant station is inspired by a musician/band and the dish, decor, and costumes reflect this. Wigs, bandannas, face paint, and ripped shirts/jeans are just a few of the things you'll see. Some of the chefs really go all out. One other unique highlight of the evening are the live bands, made up of restaurant crews and special guests. These guys not only have talent in the kitchen, but on stage as well.

At this year's event, there were some highlight dishes. In my opinion, Melange killed it with their pork belly (hmmm, maybe I really do like pork belly when it's done right) and BBQ beans. The flavors of both the meat and beans were spot on, and continued to dance on my tongue. I also really enjoyed the dishes from Pura Vida (Brandt Evans' new place), B-Spot, Blue Point Grille, Deagan's, Sweet Moses, and Pier W.

But what I really want to share with you today are some tips for navigating the event. Because this is one that you DON'T want to miss next year!

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Chef Jam:

1. They do not open the doors to the Rock Hall until 7PM, and the line gets very long. Don't panic, get grumpy, and annoy everyone around you by whining. The staff know what they are doing, and they quickly move you through the line once the doors open. I swear, you'll be in tasting food within minutes.

2. Food stations are located on the lower level and the third level only. Most of the restaurants are on the lower level, and can easily be seen from the entrance, so most of the guests head in that direction. Don't be tempted! Head directly to the third floor, where you can enjoy several stations and an empty bar before the crowd makes its way up there. (I almost didn't want to share this tip!)

3. The restaurants will run out of food if it is a popular item. So stratgeically plan out which stations you want to hit if you're really dying to try a certain restaurant or dish. You can always swing back through an area or station that you missed. There is no set traffic pattern.

4. Notice which musician/band the restaurant is portraying. Most of the chefs put a lot of thought into their dish to best reflect the artist or a specific song, and having that knowledge can sometimes enhance your experience when sampling the food. (I did not do a good job of that this year.)

5. Last, but not least, take the time to hang out on the first floor by the main stage and enjoy the live bands. These guys can seriously ROCK (see Steve Schimoler from Crop Bistro below), and their talents on the stage are just as impressive as the food they create. If you focus on the food and drink only, you may lose some of what makes this event so special.
Well, I hope that this is helpful when you are planning your night at Chef Jam 2012, because this is one Cleveland food event that you shouldn't miss!


Alana said...

i was hoping to make it to this event...sounds like i missed an awesome night!

Unknown said...

It was so much fun! Cannot wait for next year and I do agree...plan which stations you want to hit first

Amanda @ Clue Into CLE said...

Agreed - especially on the first tip! I should have followed some of the other tips better this year.

Bite Buff said...

HIC and Amanda - glad to hear that you enjoyed it too! It was one of my favorite events that I attended in 2010, so I couldn't wait for 2011 and it didn't disappoint.

Alana- Get your butt there next year!