The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Chefs in Shorts 2010

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For the second year in a row I was lucky enough to attend the 13th annual Chef’s in Shorts event in Boston. At $60.00 a ticket it wasn’t cheap, but my former boss paid for my ticket, so he didn’t have to twist my arm. The event is held to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank and involves chefs from 30 plus well known Boston area restaurants . Each restaurant has an identically sized area with two large grills and the chefs cook little mini meals with side for the attendees. The shorts are optional. Your admission buys you all the food you can eat, vouchers for 4 drinks and music from a live band in a great venue. It is held at Boston’s World Trade Center in the Seaport District. The World Trade Center hosts conventions and this event is held on a second floor balcony that spans the width of the building. You can smell the food & smoke several blocks away. Like last year there were enough restaurants participating that they had to use a bridge to the hotel across the street as an overflow area. Behind the main balcony area is a covered outdoor area which is used for staging in good weather and be used for the grills if the weather is bad. This year was great weather. We had just finished several days of hot and humid weather and the temperatures had cooled down about 10 degrees and the humidity was normal.

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This shot is a panorama of the venue taken from a bridge where some of the overflow booths go In the distance beyond you can see the main balcony that runs the width of the building.

Last year my boss and I burned out early. We filled up on the food, revisiting some of our favorite booths twice before getting around to some of the others. As a result we filled up too soon, within the first hour, and didn’t have room to try some of the booths when we discovered them later in the evening. This year we had a revised plan to help pace ourselves. We visited the west side of the balcony and checked out who was exhibiting there. We picked a couple booths that looked good and sampled their wares. We relaxed and enjoyed our food at the seating area at the far west end of the balcony. Next we walked down the entire east side of the balcony to get the big picture of who was cooking what on that side. Again we sampled the offerings from a couple of booths that looked good to us. We ate them at our leisure at the seating area on the east end of the balcony. Next we visited the bridge to scout it out and sample a few offerings. We finished the evening by visiting the booths that looked good , but we had skipped the first time around. We each revisited a couple booths that were our personal favorites. Not only did we last longer this year, we left less full and more contented.

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A view from the eating area looking west along the entire main balcony.

There were some interesting changes from last year to this. The first change was the type of food. Last year about 20 percent of the restaurant had some sort of low & slow type BBQ fare on their menus. There were multiple booths with ribs, several had brisket, there were several serving BBQ chickens. I was actually a bit surprised at the amount of BBQ because what they were offering wasn’t a quick cook. How do you guess in advance how much to start ahead of time. This year there were no ribs, a couple booths still had brisket but less than last year and no BBQ chicken . There was still grilled chicken and chicken wings. I’m not sure what marked this drop off in low and slow que. Another change was almost all of the restaurants were new this year with only one or two returnees. Actually the hotel that sponsors the event was one of the returnees, with two booths to their name, so pretty much everyone was new. I am not sure if they invite new people each year or whether it was the economy, but for whatever reason it was almost a entirely new cast of characters. This may have also been the reason for the lack of low and slow cue too.
 

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Lambs chops were a popular offering this year (left) Beef tenderloin was popular too, either sliced and served with some sort of veggie or salad side or in some other cases served as a slider.

What was in this year? Lamb was a very popular offering. There were half a dozen booths offering grilled lamb chops which would be served with a small side salad or veggie offering. Several booths had lamb burger sliders and a few others used lamb as a stuffing in an egg roll style wrap. Beef tenderloin was popular too. You would generally get a slice of beef tenderloin and a side salad or veggie. Some offered it as a slider on small rolls. Chicken wings were another popular offering, most people like them and they are a quick cook. Sliders off all kinds were in evidence all over. This is no surprise since they are more popular than ever and they are the perfect size to serve at an event like this.
 

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One of the more interesting offerings were kobe beef hotdogs served with chili (left). The place to come if you wanted grilled chicken (right) The adjacent booth to the right of the one with the chicken was making hamburger sliders.

Some of the more unusual offerings were kobe beef chili dogs featuring a large kobe beef hotdog. The dog was very tasty, as was the chili. This year there were more booths offering Indian food and what I tried was very good. I had something that was like a vertical egg roll that had been sliced on the diagonal in the middle. It was stuffed with lamb and some tasty seasoning that made it quite spicy. One of the booths that offered lamb chops (below right picture), topped it with a sauce made from a green pea base that was very tasty.

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Chicken wings were a very popular offering (left). The booth on the left (right picture)was serving lamb chops topped with a green pea based sauce that was surprisingly tasty. The booth on the right side of this picture had veggie kabobs served on large rosemary skewers . I would like to get my hand on some of those rosemary skewers.

Once again I had a great time and it serves a good cause. While I still work with my former boss, it was nice having some non-work time to talk about some other things. This night with our surroundings, it was mostly talk of grilling and smoking while we ate some of the very things we talked about. Plus it was fun seeing what these top chefs can do on a outdoor grill. If you find yourself in Boston around the last Friday in June, check out Chef’s in Shorts.
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SOME RELATED LINKS:
Here is the link for the Blog Entry on the first Chef’s in Shorts that I attended last year.
  CHEFS IN SHORTS 2009 Blog Entry


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