Last night, Seven Days and Vermont Federal Credit Union kicked of Vermont Restaurant Week with the Sweet Start Smackdown at Higher Ground. The event sold out quickly and benefited the Vermont Foodbank.
Ten chefs were invited to create their finest sweet treats for an audience of 500 hungry Vermonters. The results were amazing! Cherry-almond brownies, five-spice carrot cake roulade, Vermont chevre panna cotta, maple cheesecake, deconstructed cannolis, cakepops, strawberry shortcake, cookie dough brownies, dark chocolate raspberry lemon delights, and pecan blondie and maple parfait–WOW.
Every chef had a story to tell, their desserts, labors of love and care. I spoke with Chef Mike McCarthy from the Cosmic Bakery & Cafe in St. Albans about his Maple Cheesecake with a gluten-free nut crust. The dessert, he said, took time to perfect but he knew it was right when friends and cafe goers were rendered speechless at first bite.
All event participants were given the opportunity to vote for their 3 favorite treats. My votes went to Chef Papi Gluten Free and Chef Miguel Bernard-Rivera who created a dark chocolate, gluten-free brownie and flourless cake with a raspberry-lemon mouse; to The Nomadic Oven and Chef jen Smith who created a deconstructed cannoli with honey-ricotta mousse, candied kumquat, bittersweet chocolate ganache and cannoli shards; and to The Pitcher Inn and Chef James Gioia who created a pecan blondie and maple parfait with caramel-whipped cream and bacon brittle.
From there 3 Vermont celebs took to the judges table to deliberate the winner…and taking home top prize was Trapp Family Lodge and Chef Robert Alger who created a strawberry shortcake with layers of sponge cake, chantilly cream, fresh strawberries, apricot jam, and almond paste, wrapped in white chocolate and accompanied by strawberry compote and raspberry sauce.
Big BIG thanks to Seven Days for putting on such a great event. Money raised from the event will be put to work ensuring that no one in Vermont goes hungry.