Peanut butter and apple. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. Ozzie Osbourne and Miss Piggy (that was weird). And most newly in the world of unexpected collaborations, meet Grassroots Pantry x Amber x Linguini Fini.Vinny Lauria of Linguini Fini
You read that right. Grassroots Pantry presents The Collective's Table- challenging Chef Richard Ekkebus of the delicious but distinctly meat-based Amber, and Chef Vinny Lauria of the similarly hardly-described-as-vegetarian Linguini Fini, to join Grassroots Chef Peggy Chan in the kitchen. Together, the culinary heavyweights will devise two totally plant-based collaborative menus.Peggy Chan of Grassroots Pantry
While both menus are full of different options, here's a quick sampling of what to expect:
The Amber x Grassroots Pantry dinner will feature canapés such as avocado & wild flowers on gluten-free buckwheat toast from Amber, and green peas & mint mousse with fennel water gelée and pine nut custard from Grassroots. Starters will include Chef Ekkebus' iconic Delicatesse Potatoes- served as a salad with green olives, salicornia, sour cream and warm, slightly smoked dauphine potatoes- while Chef Peggy responds with Mushroom Marrow (using earthy Yunnan termite mushrooms and lemon-tarragon summer squash jam, served with teff melba toast). To main course, Amber brings white asparagus charred with white miso, a “mousseline” vinaigrette, salted Taiyouran egg yolk, black niçoise olives, and wild herbs. Grassroots Pantry harmonies the selection with buckwheat ravioli and local Chinese greens, zucchini cream, dehydrated heirloom cherry tomatoes, buckwheat-onion tuile, and walnut Parmesan. The meal is concluded with Amber’s heirloom varrots, a vibrant confit with orange blossom honey, carrot cake segments, zest and refreshing blood orange sorbet, followed by Grassroot Pantry's jackfruit posset with vanilla canelle cake, jackfruit posset, coconut kefir mascarpone ice cream, and vegan trademark Raiz-The-Bar raw chocolate cigars. This tasting menu is priced at $880 on event night, Monday, June 20th, and $680 during dinner service from the Tuesday to Friday after the event, with an optional wine pairing at $380 a head.
“The challenge with Chef Ekkebus is huge as I have always admired his incredible ability to create vegetarian food in a fine dining format that is unfailing in its creativity,” says Chef Peggy. “It was a lot of fun designing the menu as I enjoy bringing in the classics, such as smoked salmon blinis, and giving them a twist that resonates with our Grassroots Pantry ethos.”
Richard Ekkebus of Amber
Linguini Fini's collaboration will begin the following week with a Grassroots-inspired Antipasti Platter with pickled fennel & kohlrabi, beetroot salami, king eryngii prosciutto, tofu manchego, teﬀ crostini and zucchini sunﬂower seed crackers, followed by a burrata, tomato & avocado pizzetta with basil and summer truﬄe. Chef Lauria’s main course brings old-school charm with Eggplant bolognese adorned with homemade rigatoni and pecorino, while Chef Peggy counters with cacio e pepe risotto, a dish of yunnan cordycep mushrooms, Bhutanese dried chilli and mixed grain brown rice risotto. For dessert, they've prepared a gorgeous apple crostata with maple butter, vanilla and cinnamon zabaglione, concluded by the chefs' revamped take on tiramisu: macadamia-cashew mascarpone, vanilla sponge, raw cacao powder and almond-espresso graham.
“With Vinny, I cannot think of a better person to cook Italian with without talking about our mamas along the way,” says Peggy. “This is our second collaboration together. Along with Homegrown Foods, the Grassroots Pantry and Integrated Hospitality Management teams have been kicking it for over four years and I'm grateful our friendship has remained. Italian food is one of my favourites as it's simple, light and full of freshness. Vinny and his team already do incredible veg-friendly dishes, so I doubt this would be at all a challenge for them (unless we remove the dairy and eggs...).”
Who does the challenge benefit? According to Grassroots, everyone. Chef Peggy aims to develop her ability to adapt her cuisine to harmonise with the talents of chefs from other walks of life, while awarding a chance for Chef Ekkebus and Chef Lauria to emerge from their comfort zones of traditional French and New York-Italian dining.
For us, a great meal.