Local and regional chefs to be honored at StarChefs.com "Rising Stars" gala

Regional Chefs to Shine Bright with Culinary Promise at Tasting Gala on February 25, 2014

StarChefs.com the award-winning online magazine for culinary insiders, announces its 2014 Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Stars Awards, honoring up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals.

The gala benefits the Food Literacy Project, which exposes children to farms and fresh foods. Their executive director, Carol Gunderson, joins Proof on Main Chef Levon Wallace to talk about the event. And he is sharing a recipe for a Kentucky Bison Carpaccio.

The winners will be showcased at the StarChefs.comRising Stars Gala on Tuesday, February 25, at the Muhammad Ali Center, beginning with an awards ceremony at 6:30pm and followed by a tasting gala from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The walk-around tasting gala will give attendees the opportunity to experience 15 of Kentucky and Tennessee's top chefs and restaurants with beverage pairings and cocktails by the winning sommelier and mixologists, in one location for one night only. General Admission is $85 per person. VIP tickets are $115 and include a private VIP reception with Champagne and Petrossian caviar, beginning at 5:45pm.

A portion of the evening's proceeds will go to Louisville's Food Literacy Project, a nonprofit that provides farm-based education and entrepreneurial youth programs that bring the field-to-fork experience to life. Tickets can be purchased at www.starchefs.com/risingstars  

KY Bison Carpaccio, oyster mushrooms, squash pickles and seeds, horseradish, ranch

Levon Wallace, Proof on Main, Louisville, Ky.

1 pound bison striploin, trimmed of fat cap and silver skin

1 Tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cast iron skillet

Pickled squash

1 cup champagne vinegar

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups butternut squash dice

1 cup toasted pepitas

Oyster mushrooms

1 # fresh oyster mushrooms

3 Tbs. olive oil

2 sprigs thyme

2 fresh bay leaves

2 Tbs. softened butter

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


1 small garlic clove

1 egg yolk

Juice of ½ a lemon

1/2 tsp Dijon

¾ cup salad oil

¼ buttermilk

Kosher salt to taste

Generous amount of cracked black pepper

For garnish

Nasturtium leaves and flowers

Really good, buttery olive oil (like 100% aberquina)

Crunchy sea salt (like Xroads Philippine sugpo asin)

For the Carpaccio

Rub the bison strip lion with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and cracked pepper.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until very, very hot and quickly sear striploin on all sides. About 30-45 seconds per side. Remove from heat and place on a baking sheet that has been fitted with a rack. Place in the freezer for one hour until firm but not frozen.

For the Squash pickles

Combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt until dissolved. Place squash dice in a cryo-vac bag and add vinegar brine. Vacuum seal on high and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour prior to use.

For the oyster mushrooms

Trim oyster mushrooms of woody stems. Carefully tear larger pieces in half, keeping a natural appearance.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add mushrooms in a single layer and allow them to caramelize. Avoid moving, shaking, stirring for at least one minute.

Give the mushrooms one good stir then add butter and herbs and cook until mushrooms are golden and butter is fragrant and frothy. Remove from heat and drain over paper towels. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Reserve warm.

For the 'Ranch'

Place garlic clove, egg yolk, Dijon and lemon juice in a vita-prep blender. Puree on high until yolk are pale. Reduce speed to medium and slowly drizzle in salad oil to make a tight emulsion. Once emulsified, reduce speed to lowest setting and add buttermilk. Season to taste but make sure to be generous with the cracked pepper.

To assemble

Remove strip loin from freezer and slice thinly using a very sharp knife. Arrange slices on a chilled plate or serving board.

Scatter some roasted oyster mushrooms on the bison, followed by some pickled squash and then toasted pepitas that have been lightly crushed. Spoon a few teaspoons of 'ranch' on and around Carpaccio. Finish with nasturtium leaves, flowers, really good olive oil and some crunchy salt.

The 2014 StarChefs.com Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Stars Award winners are:


Chef Matt Gallaher of Knox Mason (Knoxville, TN)

Featured Dish: Potato Gnocchi, Mushrooms, Sea Island Red Peas, Arugula, and Cruze Crème Fraîche

Chefs Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer of Hog & Hominy (Memphis, TN)

Featured Dish: Collard Greens, 'Nduja, Pork Belly Ends, Hominy, and Pepper Vinegar

Chef Philip Krajeck of Rolf and Daughters (Nashville, TN)

Chef Keri Moser of IvyWild (Sewanee, TN)

Featured Dish: Smoked Salmon, Cracked Wheat, Black Barley, Elberton Blue Cheese, Tomatillos, Romanesco, and Chamomile-Lemon Aïoli

Annie Pettry of Decca (Louisville, KY)

Featured Dish: Grilled Carrots, Carrot Purée, Pickled Carrots, Carrot Top Oil, Buttermilk Ricotta, Brown Butter Egg Yolk, and Kale Furikake

Levon Wallace of Proof on Main (Louisville, KY)

Featured Dish: Australian Wagyu Carpaccio, Horseradish, Oyster Mushrooms, Squash Pickles and Seeds, Nasturtiums, and Ranch Dressing

Pastry Chef

Kayla Swartout of Capitol Grille (Nashville, TN)

Featured Dish: Chocolate Root Beer Cake, Boylan's Red Birch Beer Sorbet, Ginger Marshmallow, Cherry Sphere, and Cherry Pearls


Ham Maker Jay Denham of Curehouse (Louisville, KY)

Featured Dish: Mountain Ham

Roaster James Tooill of Argo Sons (Louisville, KY)

Featured Coffee: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Gelana Abaya, Natural Process

Chocolate Maker Scott Witherow of Olive and Sinclair (Nashville, TN)

Featured Dish: Smoked Nib Brittle and Assorted Chocolates


Julie DeFriend of Oak Room at The Seelbach Hilton (Louisville, KY)

Beverage Pairings with Winners' Dishes


Doug Monroe of Patterson House (Nashville, TN)

Featured Drink: Lazy Maisie: Zwack, Crème de Cacao, Cinnamon Syrup, Lillet Rouge, Louisianne-infused Gordon's Gin, Lemon Bitters, and Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters

Susie Hoyt of The Silver Dollar (Louisville, KY)

Featured Drink: Autumn Leaves: Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Ramazzotti, Antica Formula 1786, and Lime Juice


Sam Cruz and Jerry Gnagy of Against the Grain Brewery (Louisville, KY)

Featured Beer: Wrath of Krauth of Khan, Smoked Bockbier


Benjamin and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality (Nashville, TN)


David Mitchell of Mitchell Deli (Nashville, TN)

Featured Dish: Reuben: Australian Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Russian Dressing, Swiss, and Silkes Light Rye


Matt Lackey of Flyte World Dining and Wine (Nashville, TN)

Featured Dish: Trio of Beets: Cured, Forgotten, and Pickled Beets with House Ham and Dill Sauce

VIP Host Chef

Patrick Roney of Oak Room at The Seelbach Hilton (Louisville, KY)

Smoked Australian Lamb Rack and Grenache-braised Shank, Winter Mushrooms, and Oregon Truffles

About StarChefs.com:

StarChefs.com, the magazine for culinary insiders, has been serving the restaurant industry since 1995. Its mission is to catalyze culinary professionals' success and give them the tools they need to overcome their specific professional challenges.  www.StarChefs.com