Hit Makers & Rum Chasers: A hurricane relief concert for the children of the USVI

Nashville HM & RC flyer

Hello Nashville! Mark your calendars for January 30 because St. John Catering and Mathayom Private Chefs are coming to town for the Hit Makers & Rum Chasers hurricane relief concert. We are excited to be working on this event with the Charley Foundation, a non-profit organization in Nashville dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in need. Our own Mathayom Vacharat will be the guest chef at this night of food and music to benefit the children of the US Virgin Islands whose lives were adversely affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September 2017. We are forever grateful to organizations like the Charley Foundation for their continued support of St. John’s recovery, and we look forward to being a part of the Hit Makers & Rum Chasers hurricane relief concert.

Event information

  • Date & Time: Tuesday, January 30, 2018; 6:30pm dinner, 7:30pm concert
  • Location: City Winery Nashville
  • Ticket sales: charleyfoundation.org ($125 dinner & cocktails; $50 general admission)
Advertisements

Little Olive, our temporary home after the storms

b4 after collage with frame.jpg

Owner Mathayom Vacharat leaning out the back of the Little Olive Food Truck, a new venture for his business St. John Catering. Inset picture shows Windy Level Event Space, his old establishment that was leveled by Hurricane Irma in September.

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is over, but it will not soon be forgotten. It transformed St. John and the Virgin Islands as one of the most destructive seasons in the Greater Antilles with damages estimated to be in the billions across the Caribbean. The storms changed both the physical landscape of the region as well as the lives of everyone who has come to live on or love these tiny, emerald islands.

With a resilient island spirit, St. Johnians would not wallow but rather rallied and days after Hurricane Irma struck reconstruction efforts were already underway. However, we’ve found that rebuilding after the storms hasn’t simply been about recreating things exactly as they were before because St. John will never be exactly as it was before. Instead we’ve had to adapt to unexpected opportunities and changes that arose in the wake of the hurricanes.

One of the most exciting opportunities we’ve had is to temporarily take over the Little Olive Food Truck in Cruz Bay (DMV parking lot). With Chef Shelly McElligott making breakfast and lunch daily we’re able to continue producing delicious food reflective of our dedication to rich flavors and the utilization of changing local ingredients.

Open weekdays from 11-5. Follow our Facebook page for daily menu specials and any changes to normal operating hours.

LO food 1LO Mat sooncomeLO food 2Lo printed menubetter ahead sign

August 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Crucian Collaboration #1

FullSizeRender_5

When I went to St. Croix for their annual Taste of St. Croix this year, http://tasteofstcroix.com/ I was once again taken aback by the level of talent that the chefs there have on the regular, as well as the relationships that they cultivate with the local farmers. The agriculture community on Twin Cities is very in touch with the culinary world, and the final result is a food scene that is mature and robust.

While we do have our maintain our own garden next to the kitchen, have an organic farm in Coral Bay, and work with local fishing charters for product, the variety of locally sourced ingredients on St. Croix simply eclipses what we have on St. John.

As I was sitting at breakfast with other guest judges and one of the main organizers and producers of the event, Jane Watkins, and was expressing my jealousy of the chefs on our sister island having such abundant access to locally grown produce, she suggested that I try to find a way to collaborate with some of the passionate restaurateurs and chefs there. So I took her suggestion.

It has taken some time to organize, but this month, we welcomed our first guest chef of what we hope is many. Ryan Bennett is a former co-worker of one of our chefs, Vince Alterio, from back in their Chicago days, and has the culinary background to stand up with the best of them, including time working in some premier restaurants in Chicago, such as Gather and Graham Elliot before moving to St. Croix.

He is currently at Brew STX, an establishment not necessarily known for fine dining, but Ryan designed a menu that was both eclectic and familiar at the same time. We joined forces with Paul Kessock at Bellows International to pair a trio of Rose’s with the courses.

August’s menu was 90-95% locally-sourced and featured Caribbean-inspired flavors.  Here’s what our guests had to look forward to:

Sofrito Shellfish Consommé: Butter Sauce Conch / Avocado Puree / Salt Fish Lavash / Pickled Green Papaya / Fresh Racao

Pairing: Miraval Rose’

Roast Goat Roti: Crispy Roti /Tender Goat / Sweet Potato Puree & Chip / Mint / Turmeric / Coconut Rice

Pairing: Montes Cherub Rose’

Fruit: Mango ice cream / Pineapple Johnny Cake / Coconut Crunch / Lemongrass Gastrique / Basil / Crispy Plantain

Pairing: Josh Cellars Rose’

In addition, Chef Ryan and Chef Vince treated our patrons to some “one-bite” amuse bouche style plates.  This was the first time I got to attend as a guest, and although I won’t divulge what those one-bites were, I can tell you they were delicious!  OK, I may have had some wine and can’t remember properly at this time, so instead I will distract you with pictures of food.

The soup course was meticulously plated prior to being dropped in front of the customers.  The broth was a concoction of Thai Basil Tea and Habanera Peppers, and was poured table side from French presses after the bowls were set down.

Chef Ryan sourced out locally made roti shells on St. Croix, and chose to plate with braised local goat, sweet potato (two ways: chip and puree), mint, turmeric, and coconut rice.  All of the guests completed decimated their plates.

 

“Fruit” dessert: As promised, a combination of tropical flavors that seemed to explode on the plate, as well as on the palate.

We look forward to welcoming Chef Frank Robinson, a St. Croix native, in November for the second in our Collaboration Series.

Special thanks to St. John Inn for housing our guest chefs and providing a special rate for anyone wishing to stay the night and attend one of our dinners.  Check them out here: http://www.stjohninn.com/?gclid=CKO144bo8NUCFUxahgod9ckDAA

September’s dinner will be around the Harvest Moon and feature foods from the Great Midwest.  Friday, September 8th, so call us to reserve early!  340-777-5464.

 

 

July 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Thai One On

Sorry for the late post!  We have been working very hard in what is the busiest July I can remember, which is great, of course, but also comes at a cost: less time for the beach, friends, music, exercise, and obviously, blog posts.

We did still have time enough to throw together a Full Moon Dinner, and it was our most popular ever, with 70 guests.  Since I had just gone to Thailand and Vietnam to visit some family and had brought back authentic spices and ingredients, it seemed fitting to share that with our guests, especially since there are no real Thai or Vietnamese restaurants in the Virgin Islands, at least that I know of.  To keep the experience even more authentic, and to make it (a little) easier on ourselves, we decided to make the dinner family-style, since most meals in Thailand and Vietnam are served this way.  I guess that’s why I always want my girlfriend to split entrees with me when we go out.  I like variety.

Courses came out one after the other, and since we were in the kitchen getting things out in a hurry, I completely forgot to take any pictures of anything.  So, to fill whatever visual cravings you might have, I am going to post some pictures from my trip instead.  The trip inspired me to connect with more of my roots and family, and was an opportunity to show my son another side of the world.

We paired up with Southern Glazer’s and brought in a few different Sierra Nevada Beers as well as some Suntory Whiskey for the event.

Here is the menu we designed for July 10th, 2017:

In addition to the Curry Trio (Massaman, Panang, and Green), Green Papaya Salad with fresh, local Papaya, Spicy Beef Salad, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Fish Cakes, Son-in-Law Eggs, Sticky Rice, Jasmine Rice, and Teas, we also had some some Bun (Rice Noodles), Tom Ka Soup, and array of sauces and pickled vegetables.  We also finished with a Thai Iced Tea Popsicle.

All of the food was born of the idea that we wanted to treat folks to an experience as close to what they would get in Southeast Asia as possible.  The extremely hot weather certainly helped us achieve our goal!

Here are some of the places, faces, and flavors that helped this idea come to fruition…

FullSizeRender_8

‘Pon de River!

IMG_3984

The mountains above Chiang Mai

IMG_3861

Chatuchak Market

FullSizeRender

Reclining Buddha

FullSizeRender_1

Heart to the sky

 

Our journey to us first to Bangkok, where my son and I met up with many members of our family.  It was his first time meeting my father’s side, since we live so far away.  From there, we headed to Chiang Mai to spend some time connecting with even more family (28 members in all made it to this part of the visit).

FullSizeRender_15

Lyric, Hua, and Nick enjoying lunch

 

A quick few days in Vietnam took us from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi to Halong Bay, and back to Ho Chi Minh.

With markets all over the place, it was hard to resist filling our suitcases with fantastic flavors.  We definitely did not bring back any fresh fruits or vegetables, as per the USDA regulations.  Wouldn’t want to risk losing our Global Entry statuses, after all.

 

Throughout, it was an amazing trip filled with new experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  Dreaming about going back as soon as possible and spending even more time there.

I hope that our guests enjoyed the evening and got the feeling that they were transported to another locale for just a few hours.

August’s Full Moon Dinner was another amazing time.  Stay tuned for the next update, soon come.

 

May 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Kickin’ Ash: Smoked and Grilled

The May Full Moon represents, in many ways, a fresh start.  It’s called the “Flower Moon”, “Milk Moon”, or “Planting Moon”.  For those of us in the service industry on St. John, it usually marks a period when High Season comes to a close, and we are finally slow enough to take a rare break before Wedding Season and Carnival start kicking in.  For many people in the States, it constitutes the end of the school year, the approach of Memorial Day and summer, and weekends outdoors with the family.

To that end, we wanted to do a dinner that was a tribute to the beginning of BBQ Season.  What better way than to build our own Grill Pit for the occasion?  The talented Chef Ben Lewis spearheaded our project from head to toe, with the assistance of Chefs Vince Alterio and Pat Ryan, and got the entire thing sketched, sourced, and built in less than a week’s time!  Our space just got a Redneck Upgrade in a very cool way.

 

We collaborated with Glazer’s Premier, who hooked us up with Hess Wines for this event.  Take a look at the menu and pairings:

Folks were actually texting us about how excited they were for this dinner, especially the meat portions!  Let’s take a look at the courses in detail.

Course 1: Full Nest Syndrome


Grilled Quail / Chorizo-Date Stuffing / Sweet Potato / Smoked Pepper Sauce

We decided to build this plate like the bird was sitting in an actual nest, so we threaded and fried the Sweet Potato, perched it on a plate that was dusted with Moringa Powder, and accented it with our Smoked Pepper Sauce.  The Quail was par-grilled on our new toy and finished in the oven prior to plating.  Sekhem, Mathew’s son, was thrilled to help stoke the fires!

 

 

Course 2: Day and Night


Day: Morbier / Quail Egg / Lardon / Grilled Brioche

Night: Morbier Fondue / Short Rib Skewer

Here, the goal was to create a dish that used the same ingredient in two different ways.  We chose Morbier because of it’s duality.

From Wikipedia: “Traditionally, the cheese consists of a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. When making Comté (cheese), cheesemakers would end the day with leftover curd that was not enough for an entire cheese. Thus, they would press the remaining evening curd into a mold, and spread ash over it to protect it overnight. The following morning, the cheese would be topped up with morning milk.”

The Quail Egg was a simple sunny side execution, and the Lardon was Apple Wood Smoked Bacon that was grilled and then thick cut.  The Fondue was actually more of a Mornay, but we weren’t splitting hairs that day.  We did a 13 hour Sous Vide on the Short Rib prior to slicing and skewering, and dusted it with Smoked Paprika.

 

Course 3: Dust in the Wind


Smoked Wahoo / Lime Ash / Windy Level Greens

Fairly straight-forward and clean flavors dominated this plate.  Even though the Wahoo was smoked, we brightened it up and made it into a salad with Radish and Preserved Lemon, then stuffed it into Baby Romaine from our garden, tied with Lemongrass.

There were two types of Lime Ash on the plate.  One was rich and dark, made from the rinds, with almost a roasted coffee feel.  The other was dehydrated Lime Juice, which added the tart, citrus notes.

We finished the plate with Charred Tomato, Preserved Lemon, Green Goddess Dressing, and Nasturtium Petals.

 

Course 4: Table Top Luau


Al Pastor Roast Pork / Taro / Charred Pineapple

Chef Ben Lewis really wanted to take charge of this main dish, so we gave him free reign to cook the pork as he envisioned.  Marinated slices of Pork Shoulder were layered and skewered, wrapped, then set in a water bath for 18 hours.  After chilling it to retain it’s shape, they were then wedged in between Pineapple tops and bottoms, brushed with a spicy balsamic reduction, charred, and roasted to bring back to temperature.  We served these standing up, surrounded by a nest of Grilled Pineapple, Fresh Thyme, and Chicharrones.

Side dishes to complete the Luau feel were Taro for Caribbean Poi, Forbidden Black Rice, a Jalapeno Bread Panzanella, and a Roasted Beet “Poke”.  We gave each communal table a knife and designated one of the patrons to be the carver.  I think having guests participate in the action gave every table more of a family feel and some easy talking points.

 

Course 5: Go Nuts, Go Bananas


Grilled Banana Bread Tamale / Cinnamon Ice Cream / Smoked Pecans

Usually by the time dessert comes around at our dinners, our guests are full and happy.  So we have gotten into the habit of reducing our portion sizes a bit with the hope that no one leaves overstuffed.  We purposefully made our sweet treats more lightweight this time, especially considering that some of our dishes were on the heavier side of the palate.

Taking Banana Leaves from our garden, we softened them in hot water and rolled cigar-sized tamales.  After baking them, we set aside and grilled them to bring them back up to a nice, warm temperature, as well as add that light smokiness we were using as our central theme.  After pairing it with a small scoop of Cinnamon Ice Cream, Smoked Pecans, and Smoked Maple Syrup, we sent it out into the dining areas.

 

Overall, guests seemed to be pretty thrilled with everything.  Our front of house team crushed it (AGAIN), and in the kitchen, we had a ton of fun.  So much so that we forgot to take a group photo!  C’est la vie, no?

Join us on Friday, June 9th for the next exciting edition of the Full Moon Dinner!  I Bahn Heh: Local Flavors and Ingredients (5 courses).  Call us at 340-777-5464 to reserve your space, or just say hi.  It can get lonely behind a computer screen all day…

After that, we are planning some really special treats for the 2017-2018 Full Moon program, including possible collaborations from some guest chefs!  Keep an eye out for the schedule of concepts, and we hope you’ll be able to experience one for yourself sometime soon.

June 2017 Full Moon Dinner – I Bahn Heh

Chefs: Mathayom Vacharat, Vincent Alterio, Patrick Ryan

Gardner: Mathew Gibney

The Crucian Dictionary defines the term ‘Bahn Heh’ or ‘Baan Ya’ as, “Born here. Native. Belonger. This expression, part of the vernacular since time immemorial, is increasingly heard as immigrant islanders assert themselves in the community. This is indeed unfortunate as one realizes that the most defiant shouters of ‘Baan ya’ are themselves children of an earlier wave of immigrants. [First seen in print in the St. Croix Avis, 18 Feb. 1868.]”

To that end, with St. John Carnival in full swing, we wanted the June Full Moon menu to celebrate what we felt was an amalgam of many of the different flavors that were brought to the Virgin Islands, added to the culinary melting pot, and presented as what are now considered local dishes.  We also wanted to use what is sourced locally, as is custom practice for our kitchen.

Of course, we had to put our own twist on things as well, so non-traditional was the norm.  We linked up with Bellows and West Indies to pick a variety of wine selections.

In keeping with our commitment to give back to the world community, we decided to match any contributions to our beloved Pan Dragons steel pan orchestra.  Our patrons generously donated at total of $325, for a grand total of $650 donated!  Thank you to everyone who gave.  Feel free to continue showing the music program some love here: https://www.gofundme.com/st-john-love-city-pan-dragon-steel

Without further ado, here is the menu:

SLOW SEASON: Windy Level Baby Romaine / Smoked Eggplant / Stuffed Crouton / Coconut Hot Pepper Sauce
Pairing: Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc

Flavor Injectors!

Smoked Eggplant, Stuffed Crouton, Hot Sauce, and Baby Romaine

The greens, including baby romaine and Swiss chard, were picked from our garden and shocked in ice water.  The eggplant came from the lovely ladies who have their produce stand in Cruz Bay Park, and we smoked it for about 2 hours.  The crouton was seared and then stuffed with a Buttermilk-Herb dressing.  The hot sauce was inserted into flavor injectors and positioned into the crouton.  Voila!

CARNIVAL TIME: Wahoo Kallaloo / Lobster Dumpling / Saltfish Escabeche
Pairing: William Hill Central Coast Chardonnay

Salt fish with a smoky essence, lobster dumpling in kallalo

I see food and I eat it!

A semi-traditional Kallaloo was made with Okra from Ridge to Reef Farm in St. Croix, celery, onions, flavor peppers, malabar spinach, lobster stock, and lots of love!  A dumpling with chunks of Rock Lobster tail was added at the end, and on the side, we served an escabeche of salt fish, topped with passion fruit from our vine, and placed under a glass dish filled with apple wood smoke.  Oregano was chosen for the garnish.

CORAL BAY MASSIVE: Salt Pond Salt-Crusted Pork / Pumpkin Johnny Cake / Jerk Mushroom Sauce
Pairing: Domaine Carneros Avante Garde Pinot Noir

Salt Pond is a treasure trove for harvesting our local salt supply, and our crew brought back about a year’s worth last month.  We decided to crust and roast a pork loin, then add a whole bunch of pumpkin flavor by way of pumpkin spice Johnny Cakes, pumpkin slaw, and pumpkin puree.  We finished the plate off with a Jerk-seasoned mushroom sauce, the ribs that were trimmed from the loin, and fresh scallion.

DRUNKEN GOAT: Mango Beer-Braised Goat / Green Pea Pastry / Oxtail Demi / Spicy Tomato Jam
Pairing: Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec

We ended up using mutton instead of goat as our main protein, but then after making the oxtail demi, decided to mix the oxtail meat in with the mutton to create a delicious partnership of flavors.  Planning for something like a deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, Chef Vinny took our peas and made a crispy flatbread from them.  The spicy tomato jam cut through the richness of the dish with spice and acidity, while hints of mango perfumed the meat.  A pistachio crust was then applied to brighten the plate and add a bit of crunchy texture.

RECOVERY AND THERAPY: Sweet Plantain Monfongo Napoleon / Champagne-Sorrel Sabayon / Chocolate
Pairing: Batsiolo Moscato Bosc D’La Rey

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have had an abundant fruit season this year, and so plantains also made the menu.  Yes, it’s true that Mofongo is orginially from Puerto Rico, but since they are so very close and we are told to, “Love thy neighbor”, we figured why not incorporate the dish somehow.  Ripe plantains were cooked, mashed, and seasoned with a bit of chili, then formed into cakes seared.  Spiced Tuille Cookies were par-baked, cut, and finished off.  The Champagne Sabayon was infused with Sorrel Liqueur from St. John’s very own Sharelle Francis.  Plating involved Chocolate Ganache, and torching the Sabayon to create a burnt marshmallow flavor.  Eating it was like taking a weekend trip to visit Boricua.

Next month, for July, we will be exploring the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine, and serving a fantastic family-style menu with beers and Suntori Whiskey.  Come Thai One On with us on Monday, July 10th.  Call our office during business hours to reserve a seat for only $55pp   340-777-5464

We are also SUPER excited at the prospect of having our first guest chef appearance in August by way of Digby Stridiron of Balter in St. Croix!  http://www.balterstx.com/ Saturday, August 5th is the date.   Mark it in your calendars now; it’s going to be epic.  We hope to have a guest chef about every three months.

We will be posting our upcoming concepts for the year very soon, so keep an eye on our homepage and our Facebook page for details.

Until next time, enjoy Carnival and the Holiday week!

 

 

April 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Raw Deal: Uncooked and Cured

April’s Full Moon is sometimes called the Pink Moon, and when I think of pink food, visions of rare or raw meat come to mind.  This was the premise for the FMD menu in April, and our chefs Vince Alterio, Ben Lewis, and Pat Ryan took the idea and ran full steam ahead with it!  This menu didn’t have as many items from our garden as last month, but Mathew Gibney has begun the replanting process.  We are also planning some changes for the garden space (more on that next month).

We don’t usually delve into the world of raw foods too deeply, but it’s so much fun to experiment and try new things.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  Check out the bill of fare we put out:

 

  • Beet-Cured Salmon / Cold-Smoked Salmon Roe / Shaved Egg Yolk / Green Goddess / Beet Chips
  • Chilled Raw Tom Ka Soup / Fresh Local Catch Ceviche / Coconut / Lime / Hot Pepper / Nori
  • Duck Breast “Bacon” / Iberico Jamon / Beef Carpaccio / Spicy Mustard / Pressure-Pickled Vegetables / Dehydrated Vegetable Crackers / Lettuce / Sundried Tomato
  • Compressed Fruit / Almond Milk Glace / Local Fruit Granita

 

I read somewhere that, technically, you aren’t supposed to heat any food over 108 degrees Fahrenheit.  We used a good amount of raw fruits, vegetables, and grains, with the idea is that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes, which is bad because enzymes boost digestion and fight chronic disease. In short: When you cook it, you kill it. Some fans of raw food diets believe cooking makes food toxic.

We also wanted to keep things interesting and so employed a variety of techniques that allowed us to use the foods in different ways.  Dehydration, curing, compression, and acidity were all weapons of the team’s arsenal this month.

And lucky us, we had the inimitable Holly Chipman along for the ride to help us out with some fantabulous mocktail concoctions.  However, it was reinforced and made apparent once again that St. John is far from a dry town, and most guests asked to have their mocktails “upgraded” to a full on adult beverage.  Holly incorporated the Raw concept into her drinks, and paired the flavors beautifully with the dishes.  She named them after restaurants she admires.

  • Russ and Daughters:  Cucumber Water / Dill / Local Grapefruit / Lemon
  • Tram’s Kitchen:  Lychee / Thai Basil / Ginger Limeade
  • Dish Osteria:  Black Tea “Sangria” / Cinnamon / Cloves / Allspice / Star Anise / Angostura / Pomegranate

Without further ado, here is the food porn, sans drinks (because all of us were too busy to remember to takes pictures of them).  But trust me, the drinks were BEAUTIFUL!

FullSizeRender

The color on the Beet-Cured Salmon just pops so well.  We topped it with the dehydrated beet and cured egg yolk, and finished the plate with avocado, cold smoked salmon roe, and local greens with green goddess dressing.

FullSizeRender_1

The Raw Chilled Tom Ka Soup, accented with Mahi Ceviche, Chili Dust, Cilantro and Thai Basil Flowers, Coconut, and Lime.  We realized at the last minute that Nori is actually toasted, so we chose to omit that piece in order to keep the dish truly raw.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the protein plate, we cured duck breast for nearly three weeks, pressed it, then added a cold smoke to it to give it a bit of extra flavor.  We sliced the Iberico Ham razor thin and instead of the beef carpaccio, decided to do a beef tartare.  For the pickled vegetables, we put them inside a chamber vacuum sealer to force the pickling liquid into the produce rather than cooking them.  The dish was accented with truffle aioli, spicy whole grain mustard, sun dried tomato salsa, and moringa powder.

 

 

Dessert was kept simple.  Again using our vacuum chamber, we compressed fresh fruit to give it a different texture and paired it with Passion Fruit Granita (garnished with fresh Soursop), as well as an Vanilla-Almond Milk Shooter.

All in all, another phenomenal dinner by our team of talent.  We also got to celebrate a birthday with one of the guests!  Next month, we will be Kickin’ Ash: Smoked and Grilled.  Pretty much the exact opposite of this month…

Thanks to all who participated and worked this event, and see ya next time!

Group Shot!

It’s Jill’s birthday!