For the next chapter in our ongoing series of tastemaker events aimed at introducing ZENB to foodies nationwide, on Thursday, February 18, award winning Iron Chef and Top Chef Stephanie Izard drew us back to Chicago for a delectable plant-fueled feast with her unique culinary spin.
Chef Izard took attendees on a palate-pleasing journey inspired by the dishes she serves at her own restaurants, like Girl & the Goat and Cabra. She allowed a month-long exploration of the ZENB products to inspire her VIPea menu, explaining how eating and experimenting with the ingredients, and sharing them with her son, made her a believer in the product line.
The first course was a Tahini ZENB Pasta Agile Dip served with crudité and house-made pita, along with a Hot & Sour Mushroom Soup with ZENB Elbows Pasta. The deep, rich umami flavor of the broth felt extra cozy after braving a cold and blustery Chicago winter snow storm that rolled through that evening.
Dinner continued with a Tuna & ZENB Rotini Pasta Salad with Yellow Lentils. Chef Izard actually showcased how she put this dish together during a demo that preceded the start of the dinner. The tuna absolutely melted in your mouth, while puffed pieces of Pasta Agile provided a fun crunch in every bite. ZENB Rotini added a familiar al dente texture, providing a heartiness to the pasta salad.
Guests got to view the ZENB documentary What Plants Can Do during dinner, allowing them to make a farm to table connection to the food they were eating as they heard about the simple ways our planet provides everything we need to nourish and sustain us.
The third course was a dish near and dear to the heart of ZENB Chef-in-Residence Monti Carlo, who passed the baton to Chef Izard after having hosted the previous dinner in Los Angeles. The Fideos (ZENB Pasta Agile-Style) with ZENB Sweet Carrot & Tomato-Based Broth dish that was served delighted everyone with its delicate composition and rich flavor profile. Fideos means “thin pasta” in Spanish, and refers to a particular kind of noodle that is short, dry, and golden, and often cooked by simmering it in a rich, flavorful broth. Chef Izard cleverly and decadently used Pasta Agile in its stead.
The night was capped off with a surprising take on a classic dessert, Chef Izard’s version of a sundae featured a ZENB Roasted Tomato Caramel, Montamore Cheese Ice Cream and a ZENB Pasta Crunch, ingeniously crafted with chocolate covered Pasta Agile (!!). It was truly an inventive and delightful approach towards dessert.
The conversation was lively throughout the evening with guests commenting how much they liked Chef Izard’s cooking demo as well as her vivacious intros to each course. Guests raved about the dishes, but also praised the pasta itself as the star ingredient of the evening.
“It went above and beyond as far as flavors go, and then it went above and beyond in terms of how they incorporated ZENB Pasta,” exclaimed one dinner guest. “I’ve enjoyed it in my own home, but this was far above and beyond what I could have imagined.”