Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons recalls the upscale BBQ challenge. She also has some Ilan Hall updates.

on Jun 18, 2007

Micah also served us a regional take on upscale barbecue. Hailing from South Africa, she felt strongly that lamb on the "braai" was the way to go and cooked it to perfection, adding cool mint, chili and yogurt sauce, potato salad and a wonderful pomegranate glaze. It certainly was not the most elegant dish that day in terms of presentation. At first glance I remember thinking it would be clumsy and too large a portion to eat standing up -- one of my pet-peeves when at an event without formal seating. But the combination of well-grilled meat and the tang in that glaze converted me on the spot. It was unusual, creative and very satisfying.

But it was Brian's Chino-Latino Seafood Sausage with shrimp, fish and scallop in a Chili Glaze that stole the show. The complexity of his preparation, stylish presentation, and dead-on technique was impressive to say the least. He won the challenge because he managed to combine the essence of barbecue with ingredients that felt luxurious and intelligent. It was clear that he also gave a lot of thought to serving his food in a way that allowed him to interact calmly with the diners in attendance. Keeping cool under pressure in such a hot setting is no easy task and he pulled it off with ease.