Group effort: Assembled Waldorf Astoria chefs plating Michel Pieton’s (The Boulders) molasses/honey beef tenderloin with smoked bacon compote, wild mushrooms, glazed sweet potatoes, and pecans.
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Menu of the Moment

Beverly Stephen / November 2012

Visiting guest chefs from geographically diverse Waldorf Astoria properties joined together for a honey themed benefit dinner.

The Waldorf Astoria has a long and rich history as a New York City icon, but it’s still a fledgling—although rapidly expanding—brand. Hilton took it on as their luxury brand five years ago, and there are currently 23 properties from Chicago to China. While they do share the Waldorf name, each property projects its own unique sense of place. It’s still such a new collection that most of the general managers and chefs don’t know each other.

Michael Hoffman, managing director of The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in the Sonoran Desert outside Scottsdale, Arizona, decided an event to boost team spirit was needed. And so he created the Arizona Honey Festival 2012, celebrating The Boulders’ new hives and resident beekeeper by inviting f&b teams from sister properties. There were musicians, cooking demos, arts and crafts projects, honey vendors, wine tastings, and more. The confab culminated in a gala dinner to benefit The Desert Foothills Land Trust, cooked by chefs from five Waldorf Astoria properties. The challenge: every course had to contain honey. “I use honey regularly,” says Stephen Strickland, executive chef of La Quinta Resort & Club in California. “It’s healthier and more flavorful than regular sugar. Especially in raw applications, such as vinaigrettes and spreads, you’re able to pick up distinct floral traits that each variety represents.”

Jimmy Schmidt, executive chef of Morgan’s in the Dessert at La Quinta, concurs. “Honey has exceptional emulsion prop­er­ties that add texture with little or no perceived sweetness. It also has enzymes that break down or soften proteins.”

This event marked the first gathering of Waldorf Astoria general managers and chefs, who bonded on the golf course, in the pools, and behind the stoves.

The Honey Festival Dinner Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hors d’oeuvres
Stefan Kauth, executive chef, The Roosevelt New Orleans
• Honey/mango crabmeat salad in a curry waffle cone Make crab salad with onions, mango, mayo, and honey. Serve in miniature curry waffle cones.
• Honey compressed watermelon with crispy pancetta Cut watermelon in one inch cubes and vacuum-seal along with mint, honey, and simple syrup; let rest overnight. Serve each cube topped with oven-baked pancetta.
• Honey-smoked bacon oyster brochette (a twist on angels on horseback) Deep-fry honey-cured bacon–wrapped oysters on skewers. Serve with cilantro aïoli.
• Honey braised veal short rib panini Sear veal short ribs; deglaze pan with red wine, honey, thyme, and bay leaf. Braise ribs in beef stock and deglazing liquid. Pick meat from bones and shred. Place one-half ounce shredded veal between two small squares of grilled sourdough bread. Top with cherry tomato and skewer.

First course
Clément Galas, executive chef, Waldorf Astoria Park City
Hazelnut roasted scallops with olive oil potato puree, honey/corn pudding, and house-made honey vinegar Sear scallops in grapeseed oil. Finish in oven with olive oil, butter, thyme, shallots, garlic, and chopped hazelnuts. Make a corn pudding batter sweetened with honey. Make honey vinegar by mixing two parts white wine vinegar with one part honey and reducing by half. Add maltodextrin. To serve, place potato puree in center of plate and position scallops on top. Place corn pudding on the side. Dot plate with honey vinegar reduction. Garnish with hazelnuts.

Second course
Jimmy Schmidt, executive chef, Morgan’s in the Desert
Gingered honey crisp apple salad with apple “ravioli,” pan–roasted honey and long pepper cured duck breast, and Pinot Noir/apple blossom honey emulsion Combine apple cider, honey, sea salt, and long pepper. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cool in ice bath. Cure duck in brine for 12 hours. Remove from brine, pat dry, and render fat from skin. Make the ravioli with thinly sliced caramelized apples. Make the filling with coarsely chopped cooked apples, shallots, and chanterelles. Bring Pinot Noir and apple blossom honey to a simmer; reduce to sauce consistency. Drizzle into blender with pureed raw and cooked apples and porcini oil until emulsified. Place ravioli on plates. Top with sliced roasted duck breast. Make a salad of raw julienned apples, sliced mushrooms, and arugula. Dress with the emulsion. Position salad atop duck.

Entrée
Michel Pieton, executive chef, The Boulders
Molasses/honey beef tenderloin with smoked bacon compote, wild mushrooms, glazed sweet potatoes, and pecans Marinate beef in molasses, honey, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, garlic, shallots, ginger, thyme, and red pepper flakes for 24 hours. Reserve marinade. Brown marinated medallions in a cast-iron skillet. Just before removing from heat, add four tablespoons reserved marinade to deglaze pan and to glaze medallions. Render diced smoked bacon and reserve. Sauté mushrooms and reserve. Sauté cubed sweet potatoes and pearl onions in butter, add cider vinegar and brown sugar, and continue cooking until tender. Add remaining marinade, bacon, mushrooms, and glazed pecans. Tile two medallions on a plate and spoon compote around.

Dessert
Shane Ward, executive pastry chef, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix
Frangipane torte with orange blossom/white chocolate honey mousse and honey/almond ice cream Make a torte with frangipane; layer with orange blossom/white chocolate honey mousse. Make vanilla ice cream with honey and crushed almonds. To serve, dust slice of torte with confectioners’ sugar and top with a small honeycomb wedge. Accompany with a lace tuile and a quenelle of honey/almond ice cream sprinkled with house-made granola.