John Du Toit is the Executive Chef at Granada Bar and Grill at Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort
Three top executive chefs and two senior culinary executive members from Crescent Hotels & Resorts have been selected to host an exclusive dinner at the renowned James Bear House located in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village. The Spring Jam Session which will occur on May 5, is a multi-course dinner and wine pairings event where chefs who are preparing the dinner share their favorite “play list” to cook to with attending dinner guests. The Spring Jam Sessions will benefit the James Beard Foundation, which strives to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s culinary heritage and protect the future through programs that educate and inspire.
Scottsdale.com was recently invited to take part in a media dinner that was designed to showcase some of culinary prowess if Chef John Du Toit. If our dinner was any indication, Chef Du Toit is going to knock it out of the park at the James Beard Dinner!
Our dinner took place at Du Toit’s home turf – Granada Bar and Grill at Embassy Suites by Hilton. Hidden away atop the hotel on the fourth floor, the restaurant surprised and delighted with both its décor and its inclusion of Du Toit as the executive chef. This beautiful gem-of-a-restaurant has been hiding in plain sight all along!
The first dish was an absolutely beautiful presentation of shellfish including Hollywood oysters, Manila clams and Blue Point oysters. I have to admit that I am simply not a huge fan of either clams or oysters. But, I dove into the plate and discovered that Chef Du Toit has a magical spell that defies any food stereotype. Both the clams and oysters were delectable. In fact, the Blue Point oysters had been harvested a mere 15 hours previously. I probably could have devoured 100 of these! The texture and flavor, especially of the Blue Point oysters was, well… On point.
Next up was one of the most creative dishes I’ve tried in a long time – the foie gras open-face DLT. The foie gras was set atop grilled pineapple, a confit of shallots and tomatoes, truffle mayo and arugula all piled on to a slightly crispy challa bread. This was an exquisite orchestration of taste, texture and unique ingredients that I simply loved. The challa bread was perfectly crisped, so as to balance out the creamier texture of the foie gras and confit. The inclusion of the pineapple gave the entire dish an unexpected tang that served the entree well.
Our next dish was an ahi tuna featuring ahi poke, a kings trumpet mushroom (harvested by Chef Du Toit less than 24 hours prior on the Mogollon Rim), radish, turnips and gooseberries. The ahi poke had a very unique slippery-yet-almost-creamy consistency. The mushroom was such a welcome surprise as both the taste and texture were so different from the typical mushroom varietals you find at local restaurants.
We then enjoyed another uniquely created dish – the open-face veal ravioli. The veal short rib included morel mushrooms, freshly picked peas (courtesy of Chef Du Toit), and a spicy tomato marinara sauce, all creatively arranged on a house made open-face ravioli. It was as visually stunning as it was delicious.
We were treated to a delightful raspberry black peppercorn sorbet. Meant to serve as a palate-cleanser, this tasty dish imparted just a kick of spice via the inclusion of the black peppercorn.
Our final entrée was the turbot fish. The pan-seared turbot was cleverly wrapped around a mushroom walnut mousse and included watercress and carnival cauliflower all set atop a sweet corn puree. Carnival cauliflower? Just take a look at it and you’ll know how this healthy vegetable got its cute moniker. All of us at Scottsdale.com wish Chef DuToit the absolute best in making his James Beard House debut!
About the James Beard Dinner
With more than 75 cumulative years of experience amount the five chefs, the culinary team will be led by Crescent Hotels & Resorts’ Chef Greg Griffie, senior vice president of food and beverage and Chef Richard Garcia, vice president of culinary. They will be supported by chefs from properties managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts and include Executive Chef John Du Toit from the Embassy Suites in Scottsdale, AZ, Executive Chef Jay Hunter from the Horseshoe Bay Resort in Horseshoe Bay, TX and Executive Chef Richard Falbo from Westin Reston in Reston, VA. The chefs were selected based on their national and regional reputation and use of seasonal and/or local ingredients.
The James Beard Foundation now provides livestream video from three separate angles in the kitchen. The livestream will be available the night of the events starting at 6:15 p.m. and continues until the dessert course. To view the livestream, visit www.jbfkitchencam.org or www.livestream.com under the James Beard Foundation account.
The Granada Bar and Grill is located at 5001 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale inside Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort. For additional information, visit here, or call 480-949-1414.