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{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Hors d&amp;rsquo;oeuvres&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;From Cress:&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Mini vegetable b&amp;rsquo;steeya with salsa verde, and duck confit egg roll with peanut chutney&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;From 1921:&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Smoked fish mousse with trout roe and dill on a saltine, and kielbasa on rye toast with braised red cabbage and grain mustard&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Paired with: gin cocktail&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;First course by Cress&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Root-vegetable vichyssoise with smoked-cauliflower chaat and micro herbs&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Paired with a vintage Cava: Gramona &amp;ldquo;La Cuvee,&amp;rdquo; Gran Reserva 13, Spain&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Second course by 1921&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Cobia Crudo with avocado, watermelon, blood orange, basil and sweet drop peppers&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Paired with a Manzanilla sherry: La Guita, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Third course by Cress&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Herb-crusted snapper with Cress grits, fresh-citrus beurre blanc, roasted broccoli, and house chips&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Paired with a pinot noir: Forge Cellars &amp;ldquo;Classique&amp;rdquo; &amp;lsquo;17, Finger Lakes, New York&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Fourth course by 1921&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Sausage-stuffed quail with sunchoke puree and beet-pecan relish&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Paired with a valdigui&amp;eacute; blend: Cruse Wine Co. &amp;ldquo;Monkey Jacket,&amp;rdquo; North Coast of California&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Dessert by 1921&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Caramel Banana Rum Torte with chocolate mousse, rum-roasted bananas, fudge cake, pecan confection and a caramel ganache&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Paired with an Italian passito: Donnafugata &amp;ldquo;Ben Rye&amp;rdquo; &amp;lsquo;16, Sicily&lt;/p&gt;” id=”a90f9d52-0f45-4d09-a90c-34b053e7ecd1″ style-type=”info” title=”ON THE MENU” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Earlier this year, Josh Oakley, a talented and passionate chef, took the reins at 1921, an art-accentuated restaurant in downtown Mount Dora.

Not long after, Oakley invited his friend Hari Pulapaka, another acclaimed chef and owner of Cress Restaurant in DeLand, to help produce a five-course dinner for patrons from both communities.

The event took place May 9 at 1921.

“This event was a cross-pollination of followings; no theme, just two chefs delivering our passion and styles of culinary expertise,” Oakley said.

The collaboration didn’t include only the chefs. 1921’s wine director, Adam Crane, and Cress’ wine director, Hari’s wife, Jenneffer Pulapaka, united to pair the wines with the courses created by both chefs.

Oakley is a native of upstate New York, and was raised in true Polish tradition. He’s an experienced veteran on the Central Florida food scene, whose last venture before 1921 was at The Smiling Bison in Sanford, where he was executive chef. Oakley is known for his impressive menus, house-made charcuterie, and locally sourced ingredients.

Pulapaka, in addition to earning acclaim and many awards as a chef, is also an author and associate professor of mathematics at Stetson University. Chef Hari is in his 11th year of delivering statistically perfected, locally sourced and sustainable dishes to the community of DeLand.

The two chefs have worked together before.

“I was invited by Chef Hari to cook at a Cress anniversary dinner a few years back, as he told me I had soul and sustainability, and then invited me to cook with him a year ago in Chicago at the James Beard Awards, an experience I’ll never forget,” Oakley said.

When the day of the dinner arrived, rearranging the dining room for more than 30 guests who would eat in unison was the first step. The team intricately arranged stemware, silverware and menus.

The back-of-house culinary teams had been prepping vigorously for the courses, days in advance, to ensure smooth and timely delivery.

The wine directors had finalized their selections, and arranged the correct number of bottles, making sure each wine was at the perfect temperature for service, while tasting small amounts to make sure there were no deficiencies.

The guests began to arrive, and they were led to the dining room, where hors d’oeuvres and a welcome cocktail were delivered as the attendees mingled.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Deglaze:&lt;/strong&gt; to remove and dissolve browned food residue, or &amp;ldquo;glaze,&amp;rdquo; from a pan to flavor sauces, soups and gravies.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Infused:&lt;/strong&gt; the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from a vegetable, oil, or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the liquid over time.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Macerated:&lt;/strong&gt; often used with fruit or vegetables, the process of softening or breaking food into pieces using liquid, to absorb the flavor of the liquid.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Chaat:&lt;/strong&gt; a savory snack that originated in India, typically served as an appetizer at roadside from stalls or food carts across the Indian subcontinent.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Crudo:&lt;/strong&gt; means &amp;ldquo;raw&amp;rdquo; in Italian.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;B&amp;rsquo;steeya:&lt;/strong&gt; a sweet and savory pie common in Moroccan cuisine, made with an outer layer of phyllo dough around a filling.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Ganache:&lt;/strong&gt; a whipped filling of chocolate and cream.&lt;/p&gt;” id=”f65e6933-39ee-4217-a59f-0b3702225924″ style-type=”refer” title=”KITCHEN GLOSSARY” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Chelsea Harkness, bar manager at 1921, created a gin cocktail consisting of Waterloo Youpon Gin, China-China, and yerba maté tea and lemon, and garnished with a sage leaf, to accompany the small bites.

The servers passed around the hors d’oeuvres, featuring two creations from each chef, with exciting flavor combinations to get patrons’ palates ready for dinner.

Next, guests took their seats at the perfectly set, vertically symmetrical tables, as Chef Josh and Chef Hari, along with the wine directors, welcomed them.

Servers started pouring the first wine, as the chefs and back-of-house teams began plating the first course, and then synchronized delivery ensued.

After each course, all plates and silverware were cleared, and replaced with the appropriate silverware and stemware for the next course.

The pouring-and-plating choreography continued until all five courses and wines were devoured, and the culinary teams came into the dining room to a standing ovation by the impressed guests.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”&lt;p&gt;I&amp;rsquo;ve been honored, privileged and grateful to be writing food articles for The West Volusia Beacon and the community for two years. Time flies and life changes, but eating and drinking are always there to give us a feeling of warmth.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;To celebrate, I decided to write about a collaboration event featuring chefs, mentors and restaurants that have infused, deglazed and macerated me (see glossary) into the hospitality-industry professional I have become.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;The sentimental value of this event pulled my foodie heartstrings, because Cress Restaurant was the first place I worked in the fine-dining industry, five years back. There, I worked under four-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef-South, Hari Pulapaka, and his wife and Cress&amp;rsquo; wine director, Jenneffer Pulapaka.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Currently, I&amp;rsquo;m a hybrid employee at 1921 Mount Dora, working as a server, bartender and key manager. For the chef-collaboration event, I worked as a server.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style=&quot;text-align: right;&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;&lt;em&gt;&amp;mdash; Ryan Rougeux&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;” id=”dafcf8f0-c90a-40cd-bbe4-bcfd010a6ca5″ style-type=”info” title=”Happy anniversary, Ryan!” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Cress Restaurant has been a public-event, ticket-based business for the past couple of years, but is in the process of readying to open for lunch and dinner several nights a week this summer, which is sure to bring excitement to DeLand.

1921 Mount Dora continues to offer a creative, locally sourced menu in an artistic ambience, highlighted by Oakley’s mastery of charcuterie. 1921 offers one of the most extensive and diverse wine lists in Central Florida, with more than 450 wines of the world to choose from.

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