When we posted news last month of the delectable upcoming Sun WineFest event – featuring culinary bigwigs like Bobby Flay, Todd English, Ben Ford, and more – at the upscale Connecticut casino-resort Mohegan Sun, we were pleased to hear back from more than two dozen enthusiastic, epicurean-minded Smart Luxury readers in response to our question-driven giveaway. The contest, with a prize that includes tickets to a duo of culinary and wine-tasting events during the late-January foodie festival, along with overnight accommodations at the resort, is valued at $560, and was just awarded to reader Kevin OMaley, of Quincy, Massachusetts, who gave us his two savory cents – and the following winning response that left ShermansTravel editors drooling – in response to the question below:
What celebrity chef-driven restaurant or culinary event would you most highly recommend Smart Luxury readers hop on a plane for?
I think there are some important factors when you are picking a top chef-driven restaurant as a destination.
For me, it is very important that I am a fan (either of the cuisine or the personality) of the chef. That adds to the excitement of being able to sample food that they directly influenced, or if you’re very lucky, may have been involved in the prep of.
Of course is it also of paramount importance that there is some level of “exceptional” to the food. For example, if you are going to jump on a plane to go to a chef-driven restaurant, I’m not sure something like “great burgers” with some chef from the Food Network’s name slapped on it would be worth the trip.
The two places that I think are the best examples being both chef-inspired and worth traveling to are:
Blue Ginger (Wellesley, MA): This restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Ming Tsai – a true innovator in fusing East/West cuisine, and a chef I admire greatly. To me this restaurant is a perfect combination of design (Ming brought in a feng shui master to help with the layout) and culinary excellence. Ming’s signature dish here is a Butterfish/Sablefish that is among the best fish dishes you will ever have. The fish is consistently cooked perfectly and is served with a legendary soy-lime syrup. Other inventive menu highlights are a Quinoa-Swiss Chard Risotto Foie Gras-Shiitake Shumai (how’s that for “east meets west” fusion?).
Morimoto Napa (Napa, CA): Chef Masaharu Morimoto opened his first West Coast restaurant in 2010 in the Waterfront district of Napa. Morimoto needs no introduction as he has starred on the Iron Chef television show and owns restaurants in Mumbai, Philadelphia, and Japan – and got his start as the Executive Chef of Nobu when it opened over 15 years ago. Morimoto Napa is more than just a restaurant owned by one of the world’s most famous and skilled chefs. One dish that really shines is the black cod. The fish here is exceptional. This particular dish is simple, but very elegantly executed – braised black cod with a ginger/soy glaze. The dish is minimalist, but gorgeous. Other highlights were the Wagyu filet and a very interesting Sea Urchin Carbonara (tasted very well-balanced).
Did reading that get you hungry? Some tickets for the Sun WineFest are still remaining and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, www.sunwinefest.com, over the phone at 800-745-3000, or in person at Mohegan Sun’s box office. Normal nightly hotel rates for that weekend start from $359/night on Friday, $599/night on Saturday, and $229/night on Sunday, and can be booked at www.mohegansun.com.