I’ve had the tremendous fortune of meeting a lot of really great people through this blog and on eGullet. While most of my “friendships” operate at a distance, I’ve also had the great opportunity of meeting a few in person. Joe West is one of them. (Visit his blog, giuseppe wong).
Joe is a culinary student at the Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado. He grew up in Kansas City where he began training and learning his craft at a very young age. In high school, his creativity and skill won him two full Associate degree scholarships to J&W (I’m sure he can tell you exactly what feats of envy he performed) where he has been studying for the past year and a half.
Joe’s a patient, humble and hard-working kid. At 20, he’s already had some pretty amazing training in top-flight kitchens. In Denver, he worked at Adega (I think their website’s under construction right now). He also staged briefly at Alinea, which was recently ranked the number 1 “Best Restaurant” by Gourmet Magazine. And now, he’s had the good sense to move back to Kansas City and work at bluestem, where I’m sure he’s learning a lot under the guidance of chefs-owners Colby and Megan Garrelts and the chef de cuisine, Dave Crum. For those who know bluestem’s cuisine, you can see the influence from their style in some of Joe’s creations.
A couple of months ago, Joe had been asked to cater a private dinner party. I had the fortune of being asked to tag along as the photographer. But really, I was the lucky observer – and scavenger.
In the weeks leading up to the dinner, Joe would tease me with mark-ups of his menu. I got to see it througout the many stages of development. By the time the dinner rolled around, I was excited to see the results.
The dinner started oustide where a fire had been lighted in the patio fire-side. The warm glow welcomed guests to a cornucopia of cheeses, crackers and hors d’oeuvres. A number of bottles of wine were opened.
Cheered by good company, appetites whetted by wine and morsels of food, the party moved into the dining room. Back in the kitchen, the servers and I were hard at work – not the least of whom was Joe – making sure everything was picture perfect.
Instead of going through each dish in the dinner tasting, I’ll simply list the menu:
“Peach Soup on the Rocks”
“Tomato ‘Sno Cone'”
Hostess’s home-made Sour Cream Apple Pie
You can read more about Joe’s process and design for the evening’s tasting on his blog. I’ve also released most of the photos taken that night on my flickr account in the Joe West Tasting set. The wine pairings were provided by the host and hostess. I’ve included some photos of the wine bottle and labels.
Keep up the good work, giuseppe wong!! I look forward to watching you achieve many more successes!!