Great Tennis, Great Food At Sony Ericsson Open
by Dana Hatic|
Sunday’s stadium spectators in suite 208 at the Sony Ericsson Open received a treat—a specially designed menu from the James Beard Award chefs, whose recipes are featured at the Collector’s Club restaurant throughout the tournament. The spread included select items from the five chefs, including Sam Gorenstein, Michelle Bernstein and Hedy Goldsmith, who were on site for the afternoon. Items from Kris Wessel and Norman Van Aken were also featured.
Great Performances, the New-York-based company that has worked with the Sony Ericsson Open since 2003, organized the suite presentation, which is the first special culinary showcase for the Miami tournament. Liz Neumark, the founder of Great Performances, also visited the suite in honor of the special presentation.
“We come down from New York once a year, and this year we looked at how to expand the culinary experience beyond traditional stadium food,” Neumark said. She noted that the inclusion of the James Beard chefs enabled Great Performances to enhance the dining experience for the tournament, to combine “fine dining with fine tennis.”
“Life happens around food,” Neumark said. “What happens here is the combined passion for food and sports.”
The featured chefs drew upon the Miami atmosphere and added personal touches they include in their work outside of this event.
Hedy Goldsmith, a pastry chef at Miami’s own Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, presented her dish, a basil-infused panna cotta topped with a strawberry consommé, candied lemon zest and fresh berries. Goldsmith explained that Michael’s uses a great deal of local produce, and her inspiration for the dessert evolved from the quality strawberries grown in south Florida this time of year.
“We really embrace a lot of local farmers,” said Goldsmith, so the fruit combined locally-grown basil were the ideal ingredients for the panna cotta. “This dessert is perfect for hot weather and perfect for tennis fans with discerning taste,” Goldsmith. She described the lightness of the dish, and said how well it complemented Miami and the heat of this spring month.
Chef Norman Van Aken, who was not on site, also took advantage of local fruit, and featured a guava cheesecake with ginger crust, strawberries and local honey compote.
Michelle Bernstein, a self-described “Miami girl,” featured a white gazpacho with a Spanish influence. The tomato-based dish features pureed Spanish almonds, cucumbers and grapes, with a touch of sherry. “It’s refreshing on a hot day like today,” said Bernstein. The special gazpacho will be presented as a first course on Bernstein’s pre-fixed, four-day menu at the Collector’s Club from March 29-April 1. Bernstein said she felt “excited to be in sort of an elite, beautiful club, [preparing dishes] a little more of a fancy way than just putting out food as fast as possible.”
Sam Gorenstein, of BLT Steak in Miami, featured a butter lettuce salad with sugar snap peas, cucumber, watercress and a grapefruit dressing. He took into account the season and heat of the day to produce a “springy and citrusy” dish to cool off tennis spectators. Chuckling, he added his inspiration to make a healthy dish, “because it’s a sports tournament, right?”
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