We're bummed Top Chef Charleston is over, but all that chefestant love isn't going away anytime soon. Silvia Barban and Sheldon Simeon recently reunited at Silvia's restaurant LaRina in Brooklyn, NY, for a special one-night-only pop-up dinner.
Silvia's restaurant, LaRina, had a full house.
The six-course menu was a mashup of their two signature cuisines, Italian and Hawaiian. Highlights from the dinner included an ahi poke in coconut broth with shaved fennel and toasted farro; adobo beef cheeks with kimchi peanuts and purple potato gnocchi; and a giant ravioli filled with shrimp and egg yolk in a rich, intense hen broth.
Ahi Poke With Fennel, Coconut, Farro, and Arugula
"Everybody told me they were not sure how [the menu] was going to be; Hawaiian and Italian together sounds weird," Silvia said in an interview with The Feast. "But then everybody was so surprised…they were super happy about it."
Silvia said it was "amazing" working with Sheldon in the kitchen. "It was actually the first time Sheldon and I worked side-by-side," she said, explaining that they were never on the same team during Top Chef. "We had such a blast, both of us."
Sheldon adds the final garnish to the stracciatella course.
Sheldon was in his element during the dinner, chatting with fans and goofing off with the line cooks in the kitchen. "It's been rad. Just the whole time I've been here, everyone's been super nice and supportive and had really nice things to say," he said.
Sheldon moves so fast in the kitchen, he's just a blur.
The two collaborated on the menu remotely using Google Drive and didn't get to test out their dishes until the morning of the event. They met up at 8:30 a.m. and cooked until 2 p.m., when Sheldon had to leave for another commitment. "We started preparing all the dishes and…Sheldon was like, 'This is like a Quickfire challenge right now,'" Silvia said.
Even the cocktails had Hawaiian flair: The Jungle Bird, with rum and pineapple-infused Campari
Amazingly, each dish they tested was successful on the very first try. "For real, it was like a Quickfire challenge," she laughed. "We would make it, and we were like, OK, this is awesome. Fantastic. It was very surprising, because besides [merging] the different cultures, even making [a dish] for the first time and everything is perfect, it's great."
Raviolone With Shrimp & Yolk, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sesame, and Hen Broth
Every dish that evening was a knockout, and the one that sounded the least harmonious—the stracciatella di burrata, an ultra-creamy cheese, with broccolini, seaweed, and chopped macadamia nuts—was the hit of the night. "I think the most successful was the stracciatella. Everybody said that to me," she said.
Stracciatella di Burrata With Wakame, Broccolini, Konbu, Macadamia Nut, Kale, and Shiso
And two surprise guests showed up late to dinner: Brooke Williamson and Shirley Chung, who were in town for the Top Chef finale. Silvia, who has described herself as Top Chef's "number one fan" before she appeared on the show, says she still can't believe she's now part of the family. "I'm still the little one," she said, noting that at 27, she's much younger than most of the other cheftestants. "I'm the kid of the group. This season was great, and we're actually all friends."
A mini Top Chef reunion: Brooke, Silvia, Shirley, and Sheldon
Silvia said she would love to compete on Top Chef again. "It was awesome," she said in an earlier interview. "I think I have a lot more to show."
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