All Hail Caesar Salad!
Ah, the Caesar salad, a delicious staple ever since 1924 when Caesar Cardini, an Italian native living in Tijuana, had a rush of aviators for lunch one day and tossed together those now classic ingredients: romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper.
The 25th Annual Caesar Salad Competition, held last Friday at the Doubletree Allen Center, raises money for culinary scholarships and pays homage to Cardini while challenging Houston's chefs to build on the dish or reinterpret it creatively. Sponsored by the Food & Beverage Managers Association and My Table magazine, the Caesar creations ran the gamut from the traditional Caesar salad to Caesar empanadas, Caesar panna cotta, powdered Caesar salad, and duck fat-fried roasted garlic gnocchi with Caesar fondue.
Best Creative Caesar Salad went to Beaver's Sous Chef Russell Kirkham for his Texas Caesar Salad with romaine hearts, chipotle-Caesar dressing, Texas caviar and smoked parmesan foam. Mockingbird Bistro executive chef John Sheely won for Best Classic Caesar Salad, and Quattro won Best Presentation for their parmesan-anchovy cheesecake with romaine and garlic confit gelee and anchovy-truffle vinaigrette. The 400 attendees voted the white anchovy & garlic profiterole with crabmeat Caesar salad by Spencer's for Steaks & Chops as the People's Choice winner.