About Last Night: Booze, Lentils, Booze and Booze

The title may be misleading—last night’s event wasn’t all about booze. It was, as always, an impressive showdown between two extremely talented chefs. They came prepared, for sure; they came excited, no doubt; they cooked us a phenomenal meal. But while they were doing their thing behind the line, the alcohol was working its magic on the guests–mostly in the form of wine, tequila and an icy bottle of Grey Goose which (mysteriously…) didn’t last the night.

In the end and to say the least, we had a great time at Open Stove XXVII. But behind the line, one team had a better time than the other, so let’s recap and see how it all went down.

The Teams

Team R2L: John Calvert and his sous.

Team Treemont: John Dilliplane and his sous.

The night was kicked off by two very pretty, very intricate, colorful amuse bouches. While Team R2L stuck with a two ingredient bubble, Team Treemont went in a more complex direction. Both great, but extremely different.

Team R2L’s Watercress-Foie Gras Custard, with paddlefish roe, a light drizzle of olive oil, and finished with crushed maldon salt.

Team Treemont’s Hand-Torn Diver Scallop, swimming in a dashi vinaigrette with fermented tomato, nori “chicharrone”, and wakame seaweed.

First Course Secret Ingredient

Pickled Labneh: something John C. was barely familiar with, and something John D. was all too familiar with (an ingredient in the dipping sauce for the chickpea fritters at The Treemont).

Even though Team R2L wasn’t used to cooking with it, they used it beautifully in a delightful pearl barley risotto, topped with an heirloom tomato salad and a labneh vinaigrette.

Team Treemont got fancy with mushrooms and tweezers. A mushroom plate of smoked maitakes, trumpets, in a corn mousse, with wheat berries, pickled radishes, and broken labneh.

Second Course Secret Ingredients

This part was fun: both teams got red lentils. Then, there were four different ingredients in the mystery baskets. Each team got two. Team R2L got to go first, so John C. picked a number between 1-4 (each ingredient was marked 1-4). After his pick, he got to decide whether or not to keep the ingredient or give it away to Team Treemont. 

First Pick:

Tamarind Syrup!

Second pick:

Middle Eastern Hot Pepper Sauce

Team R2L, satisfied with their picks, kept both ingredients, and left the remaining two for Team Treemont.

Fig marmalade

Soom Tahini

After a lot of this:

This is what the chefs came up with:

Team R2L’s Roasted Ahi Tuna Loin, over tuna confit, a summer succotash, and a tamarind-chile beurre blanc.

Team Treemont’s Slow-rendered Duck Breast over whipped, Moruno-spiced, red lentil risotto (done with Soom tahini), heirloom cherry tomatos, in a duck-fig consomme.


Team R2L gave us some marinated watermelon, toasted almonds, whipped fromage blanc, and a drizzle of herb syrup.

Team Treemont went with chocolate: Chocolate entremet, pistachio puree, chocolate mousse, chocolate tuile, and dried cherry.

And after a long night of drinking shots and shots and shots of vodka, after eating slow-rendered duck and roasted ahi tuna,  after all the Middle Eastern secret ingredients, the guests got to vote.

Team R2L were the victors of Open Stove XXVII, and it was another one for the books. Congratulations to both teams, and to a wonderful competition.

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