Photo courtesy of Angie Salame
I write this while in a full blown food coma (#foodieproblems) with a delightful pain and taste bud/sensory overload, but more over, faced with writer’s dilemma, trying to find a way to describe the past four hours of absolute mastery that just went down at Rogue 24. Long -24 course and 8 drinks- story short, Spike Gjerde had me at hog jowl. Rogue 24 had me upon entrance. What the hell does that mean you ask. Well, in case you have been living under a rock, RJ Cooper’s illustrious Rogue 24 has been debuting Rogue Sessions, a ten week pop-up celebrating some of the nation’s finest chefs as RJ Cooper recovers from heart surgery, with ticket sales benefiting Share Our Strength. It is all a wonderful affair of chef love, community giving, and culinary creativity.
Straight off the press, I was interested in seeing Chef Spike Gjerde go Rogue. His farm-to-table concept in Baltimore, Woodberry Kitchen, is one of my favorite restaurants around, but not the kind of place you find Rogue-esque molecular gastronomy. At Woodberry Kitchen, Chef Spike works closely with farmers and growers throughout the Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic regions to supply the restaurant with the freshest ingredients available, and brought that local fever to the Rogue Session. Throughout the meal, Chef Spike proved over and over that he could break barriers and remain true to seasonal and local flavors, delivering amazing dishes that were packed with a subtle elegance and charm you would have thought he was working in that space for years.
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Courtesy Angie Salame
It is an unfortunate circumstance that will bring together some of the most talented chefs from the nation for a culinary showdown of epic proportions. Chef RJ Cooper, the mastermind behind Rogue 24, will undergo open heart surgery this month to correct a genetic heart defect which could be life-threatening if not treated.
In his place, ten of Cooper’s closest friends – who also happen to be some of the most talented chefs in the nation – will each take over the kitchen at Rogue 24 for a week. The impressive roster includes José Andrés, 2011 James Beard Outstanding Chef, David Posey from Chicago’s 4-star restaurant Blackbird and formerly of Alinea, Spike Gjerde, chef/owner of Woodberry Kitchen, Nancy Oakes, James Beard Best Chef California and chef/owner of Boulevard, and Top Chef contestant Jennifer Caroll, who worked with Eric Ripert at 10 Arts in Philadelphia and Le Bernadin in New York. And that’s just the half of them.
Each Rogue Session will cost $185 per person, and includes a 24-course dinner which will feature twelve dishes prepared by that week’s visiting chef and twelve Rogue 24 favorites, and wine and cocktail pairings by celebrity bartender Derek Brown and Beverage Director JP Fetherston. Tickets to these coveted sessions will be sold one week in advance exclusively through Gilt City. The first session kicks-off January 10th and will be lead by Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to Share Our Strength.
Now, if this isn’t the definition of chef love I don’t know what is.