Anthony Bourdain Wine Dinner

Cape Cod Life  /  July 2019 / , , ,

Writer: Allyson Plessner / Photographer: Pedro Blanco 

Feeding the Soul

Local chefs come together to whip up inventive dishes that are as flavorful as the personality and legacy of the man they celebrate: Anthony Bourdain. Brought together by a love for food, these creative culinary professionals honor the exact qualities of food that Bourdain cherished—its ability to change, connect and hopefully save lives.

Last summer, the world lost an icon in Anthony Bourdain, and foodies everywhere will forever miss his spicy personality and willful sense of adventure. An inspiration to many, Bourdain held a wealth of knowledge, experience and thought-provoking opinions—ones that he was quick to share and slow to apologize for. His quick wit and unfiltered thoughts were exactly what made him such a relatable figure, and within that context it’s important to also recognize the equally relatable feelings of loneliness and depression that he harbored. Behind the larger-than-life figure was a man who struggled with many of the same things that people all over the world struggle with. There is perhaps no more meaningful way to honor his memory, his success and his incredible life, than to support the conversation around mental health and advocate for the life-saving services offered by suicide-prevention groups around the world. 

Bourdain famously got his start as a dishwasher at the Lobster Pot in Provincetown: an oasis for the open-minded and a place where a young Bourdain, not yet sure of his direction in life, felt at home. It was there he fell in love not only with cooking but also with the culture of the kitchen, with the type of people who spent their nights on the line and their days basking on the beaches of Ptown—the one constant in all of their fast-paced lives always food. From his days as a raucous young man to his later years as a wiser but equally vivacious celebrity chef, the Cape always held a special place in Bourdain’s heart, and his years in Provincetown propelled him into an incredible career as a celebrity chef, a writer and an all-around inspiration.  From his well-known CNN show Parts Unknown to his travel programs with the Food Network and his time as an author (of culinary topics but also fiction and historical nonfiction), food was the main ingredient that connected Bourdain to people and to the world abd helped him to understand the characters he met and places he saw. 

For a moment, or a second, the pinched expressions of the cynical, world-weary, throat-cutting, miserable bastards we’ve all had to become disappears, when we’re confronted with something so simple as a plate of food.
– Anthony Bourdain

On a peaceful summer night in June—the time of year when sunny days give way to cooler nights and people wandering down the sidewalks are simply excited to be past the abrasive days of winter—Mallebar a Modern French Brasserie in Plymouth hosted a wine dinner in celebration of the life and legacy of Anthony Bourdain. “How can you not be inspired by him,” says Mallebar co-owner Heather Ritchie Casey on the choice to focus the night on Bourdain. “He was such a unique, moving person with an interesting story. We watched a lot of his shows and read a lot about him leading up to the dinner. Everyone feels like they knew him, and the amazing thing was that whether you did know him personally or from television, that’s truly who he was. His death really hit hard.”

Casey explains coming up with a plan for the wine dinner: “Last summer, we were able to get this incredible painting of Bourdain done by Robert Green,” she says. “It gets such a great reaction and people just gravitate toward it. So he’s been looking over us for about a year now, and that painting set the stage for this dinner.”

In true tribute to his memory, the theme of the night was punk rock. Proceeds, which totaled over $7,000, went to benefit local suicide prevention efforts by the Plymouth County Suicide Prevention Coalition. “It’s important to us to support local charities,” says Casey, who is also an avid supporter of The Home for Little Wanderers in Plymouth. “Sometimes causes like that just speak to you, and we like to advocate for people that we know and work with every day.” Casey garnered a list of 12 of Bourdain’s favorite meals from restaurants around the world and used that as the inspiration for the night’s dishes, prepared by eight local chefs who added their own creative spin. The guest chefs came together to create signature dishes, and as each of them took charge of the kitchen, the other seven gathered to help plate and put finishing touches on each other’s dishes—a collaborative effort that would have made Bourdain proud to see so many people and professionals from different walks of life being brought together by food. “We’re friends with all the chefs,” says Casey, “and Plymouth is such a tight community, particularly in the food industry, so we really try to help each other out.”

From pig ear torchon with pickled vegetables and a chardonnay gelée crafted by Chef Patrick Gilmartin of Su Casa in Plymouth as the opening meal, to a chocolate panna cotta with a blue cheese crumble and port wine gelée made by Chef Shakira Rock of Mallebar Brasserie for dessert, all paired with Maison & Domaines Henrot wines, each bite served as a delicious complement to and remembrance of an amazing chef and man—and all for a great cause. Other menu items included a savory pork belly, paté and fois gras dumpling prepared by Chef Stephen Coe of the Hilton in Boston and Woburn, a “spicy as f***” pollo verde by Chef Marc Swierkowski of Ella’s Wood Burning Oven in Wareham, a pastrami sandwich and pastrami ravioli, both prepared by Chef John Ricardo of Solstice in Kingston, and a fan favorite: braised lamb presse over a scallion pancake topped with long horn chili by Chef Johnny Sheehan of Salt Raw Bar in Plymouth. In total: eight tasting dishes perfectly paired with eight wines—all crafted in one restaurant over the course of just a few hours. The teamwork it took to successfully prepare these dishes, to make them both mouthwatering and eye-popping, was astounding and a true testament to the culinary culture of creativity and camaraderie that Bourdain cherished. 

As Bourdain famously said, “Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” And if this event, complete with a silent auction and raffle, was an amusement park, the food was the roller coaster, plummeting guests into a flavorful ride, delicious and exciting from start to finish—much like Bourdain’s life. From savory squid ink risotto with oxtail marmalade by Chef Jim Casey of Mallebar to a crispy pork-seasoned rice cake tatsoi with a sweet barbecue flavor by Chef Dan Delancy of The Lobster Trap in Bourne (Bourdain also wisely pointed out once, “Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start”), each bite was a tiny piece of an amazing journey—one that surely would have made him proud.

To support the Plymouth County Suicide Prevention Coalition, visit plymouthcountyspc.org

Held at Mallebar Brasserie in Plymouth on June 6, 2019, almost exactly one year after Anthony Bourdain’s death, the wine dinner included eight courses prepared by eight different chefs and inspired by some of Bourdain’s favorite meals from his notorious travels to the farthest reaches of the world. Paired with Maisons & Domaines Henriot wines presented by Northeast Regional Manager Ethan Hunt, each course was a stunningly detailed tribute to a chef and man who inspired so many in this region and beyond. Though nothing will soften the blow of his loss, the Bourdain wine dinner did an incredible job of honoring his memory, and all proceeds—over $7,000—went to benefit the Plymouth County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Visit Mallebar Brasserie at 15 Main Street Ext., Plymouth or call 508-747-0471. mallebarbrasserie.co

1. Pig Ear Torchon, Pickled
Vegetables, Chardonnay Gelee
Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Blanc 2016
chef: Patrick Gilmartin
Su Casa, Plymouth

2. Pork Belly, Pate & Fois Gras Dumpling,
Purple Cabbage Kimchi Consume
Bouchard Pere & Fils Rully 2016
chef: Stephen Coe
The Hilton, Boston-Woburn

3. Tamale-Spicy As F*** Pollo Verde
Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay 2017 
chef: Marc Swierkowski
Ella’s Wood Burning Oven, Wareham 

4. Crispy Pork-Seasoned Rice Cake, Tatsoi
Bouchard Père & Fils Chambolle Musigny 2014
chef: Dan Delancy
The Lobster Trap, Bourne 

5. Squid Ink Risotto, Oxtail Marmalade,
Fermented White Asparagus 
Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Rouge 2016
chef: Jim Casey
Mallebar Brasserie & The Blue-Eyed Crab 

6. Pastrami 2 Ways-Sandwich vs. Ravioli
Bouchard Bourgogne Pinot Noir Réserve 2017
chef: John Ricardo, Solstice, Kingston

7. Braised Lamb Presse,
Scallion Pancake, Longhorn Chili 
Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Clos de la Mousse 2012
chef: Johnny Sheehan
Salt Raw Bar, Plymouth 

8. Chocolate Panna Cotta, Blue Cheese Crumble
Port Wine Gelee, Grapes, Merengue
Vanilla Crisp, Port Ice Cream 
Chateau des Bertrands ‘Elegance’ Rose 2018
chef: Shakira Rock, Mallebar Brasserie 

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.