The Cincinnati Bailliage has a long history of “paying it forward” by supporting the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical College. On July 7, 2014, we had an opportunity to remind ourselves of why we continue this nurturing relationship. A sold out crowd attended a dine-around event at 20 Brix in the eastern suburb of Milford. This fine establishment is quick to point out that they were the first in the Cincinnati area to combine a wine bar, restaurant, and retail store all under the same roof. They regularly offer over 300 wines for purchase, with approximately 100 available by the glass.
On this much anticipated night, Chaîne members brought bottles of their finest wines to be shared throughout the evening. The reason for our excitement was that MCI graduate, Chef Paul Barraco, was preparing a 3-course dinner to showcase his renowned culinary skills. Upon graduation from MCI, Chef Barraco worked as a Sous Chef at the historic Mill Street Manor and then Executive Chef at the Tousey House in Northern Kentucky. He continued at local Silverglade & Sons Specialty Foods and the O’Bannon Street Restaurant. Chef Barraco was also the owner and chef of a highly successful catering business before coming to 20 Brix, which was opened in 2007 by the family of Hunter Thomas. He is a believer in the “slow food movement” and supports local farmers and vendors.
Under the watchful eye of General Manager and Sommelier Clay Mitchell, we were greeted at the door and ushered to a gorgeously crafted wood bar where our wines were displayed. Many of us savored sparkling wines as well as other white offerings while enjoying passed appetizers of strawberry rosemary bruschetta, spiced meatballs, and shrimp arancini. We then took our seats in the dining room with large windows overlooking the historic old town district where the scene resembled a Norman Rockwell painting. Sheltered from a steady rain outside, we were warmed with local white asparagus soup and asparagus salad which paired well with numerous white wines of the evening. This was followed by “Duck, Duck, Goose” which consisted of a beautifully prepared duck breast with a duck egg omelet and goose liver pâté. Many of our members appreciated this course immensely with many of the Pinot Noir offerings of the evening. Dessert was a dark chocolate pecan torte made with pork fat caramel, bacon nougat, and vanilla bean crème. Needless to say, the Cabernet Sauvignon was freely flowing with this big, bold, farewell dish.
Professionnel du Vin Carmen Parks, who skillfully planned this event with Chef Barraco, and Bailli George Elliott were praised by all for an evening that exceeded our expectations. Moreover, we all left with a good feeling of the importance of our continuing support of the Midwest Culinary Institute. Our efforts as a culinary organization have truly enriched our area through supporting chefs such as Mr. Barraco.
Graig W. Smith, MD, Vice Chargé de Presse