I was lucky enough to be invited to the recent Omni Originals Showcase which was a grand display of the best fare Omni Hotel chefs from all around North America have to offer. The sit-down dinner took place at the acclaimed Chefs Club at 275 Mulberry Street (just south of Houston) and as the old pop culture saying goes, the hits just kept on comin’! Omni Hotels chefs flew into NYC just for the event–so if you saw a bunch of guys milling about in the lobby of the Omni Berkshire hotel last week, it was the chefs having a tete-a-tete! This showcase not only featured great tastes but included some of the most artistic presentations ever!
The Ahi Tuna Pops were one of the killer appetizers were handled by Chef David Harker from the Omni Nashville along with some of his support staff–you can see how gorgeous they were and how they had built in “handles”! They were washed down with assorted pre-dinner drinks including a Morel Smash made of Cruzan Rum, strawberries, rhubarb and house morel-infused honey syrup.
The King’s Neoclassic Beef Wellington was the app that knocked everyone off their feet and onto the floor. The grassfed prime filet mignon was cut thick and placed on a biscuit with a classic Bernaise sauce and assorted grilled mushrooms. Portions were so generous–each app had two ounces of beef. They had meat cooked to different temps–I personally like my meat medium rare and I confess that I ate five pieces of the Beef Wellington! It made my week! Chef Harker and Chef Daniel Schick from Prince Edward Island worked on this delightful classic together! Guests heard remarks from Omni Hotels director of Food & Beverage Director Devin Burns as they imbibed cocktails and chowed down on the appetizers!
Chef Daven Wardynski’s of the Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s palm entree blew my mind as well. The dish looked like a tropical island with different plants and trees on it! It actually contained a vertically placed piece of palm about five inches tall with scattered almonds, pieces of fresh ginger and Scotch baked sweet potato chunks.
Chef Harker’s Lobster Waldorf also rocked everyone’s world. Beautiful large chunks of poached lobster were scattered among pieces of celery, apples, walnuts and grapes. Wild greens were also on the plate and they were spritzed with a champagne viniagrette. All the “vegetation” tasted and looked like it had just been picked in a local garden a few minutes before serving!
I have eaten venison on a few occasions but Chef Harker’s Ash Crusted Venison is in a league by itself–and a staple on his hotel’s list of entrees. The affable chef serves it with remarkable black pepper homemade spatzle mixed with brown butter, baked squash, mole and pablanos. This dish was a delightful mixture of nearly every savory texture and taste! I could probably live on the black pepper spatzle topped with brown butter for the rest of my life (I am dead serious, LOL)!
Chef Schick’s Morels And Peas were served with a sunnyside up quail egg in the center of the plate; the quail egg was surrounded by the largest, brightest green peas that I have ever seen with smoky tasting homemade gnocchi on the outer part of the pate. The large green orbs actually looked more like edamame than peas!
The Omni Originals Showcase Dinner ended on a very sweet note. Chef Wardynski used honey raised in hives on the property of his hotel and simply called his dessert Our Honey. (There are also hives on top of the Omni in midtown Manhattan, by the way!) The honey was served on a piece of “cake” that was actually more like a firm and thick Belgian waffle. The cake was topped with the Omni honey, an edible yellow bloom, green blueberries, pollen (in the shape of a stick) and green blueberries. This might just be the most unusual dessert that I have ever had. The honey was remarkable and I was thrilled that all the dinner guests got some to take home.
This was possibly the most “gourmand” dinner that I have had so far in 2018! The Omni chefs are super creative and stretch the boundaries of mixing and matching both unusual and common farm to table ingredients. They truly set the standards for luxury dining at five star hotels–and that is not an easy task! It was so nice that the food and travel press got an up close look on how these remarkable chefs operate in the kitchen before the food actually got plated and served, too! Special kudos to the Chefs Club for creating the gorgeous handwritten menu on the blackboard! For more info on Omni Hotels and their great hotel restaurants, go to www.omnihotels.com.