Chef Barlow of the critically acclaimed farm-to-table Heirloom Restaurant in North Charlotte welcomed Cordrè Catering to
take over his kitchen on Monday, February 12 for the event “Far East meets the South.” Chef Manuel Cordray started the Cordrè catering business five years ago to bring his culinary creativity to another level. He and Chef Shelton Sparks put their heads together to produce a 5-star Asian-inspired feast.
Before taking a seat, everyone made their way to the cash bar for one of Heirloom’s luxurious cocktails. I treated myself to the “Necessities”: prickly pear infused Doc Porter’s vodka with lime and orange cardamom syrup. I sipped on this beautiful pink drink as I admired Heirloom’s rustic atmosphere complete with dozens of mason jars, rural paintings, and barn decor. Live jazz music from Groove Station really enhanced the candle-lit, intimate ambiance as soon as we were welcomed in until the end of the night.
The family-style tables allowed everyone to mingle with friends and family of the Cordrè team and food lovers alike. I had the opportunity to sit across from Chef Shelton’s lovely wife and three children. Plus, I happened to sit next to another fellow blogger. We all discussed our thoughts on the food and our backgrounds and lifestyles. Everyone was great company and got to turn complete strangers into friends.
Then, the Cordrè team came out to introduce themselves and their mission. Chef Cordray explained, “‘The Far East meets the South’ is more or less a tribute to the Chinese New Year. We are going from Asian fusion to the New South Cuisine.” Before each course, the chefs introduced what they would be serving, and wine enthusiast Paul announced which wine would be paired with it.
My stomach was rumbling as I had been saving room for this meal all day! Oh, was it worth it. The five courses were of true quality.
*First course: **Pork N’ Beans*
The braised pork belly glazed in a ginger soy sauce served over fermented butter beans and topped with a collard green kimchi went beyond my expectations. Every bite was magical. For those who were vegetarian, they offered meat substitutes. They also accommodated those who were gluten-free. There were quite a few who needed these options, and the team expertly remembered exactly who to serve. This dish was paired with a sparkling Rose from Spain. I was amazed and impressed with this course and couldn’t wait for the rest.
*Second course: **Greens*
Baby Bok Choy, a Chinese cabbage, marinated and lightly grilled with seasonal vegetables and topped with a charred jalapeno pesto was our salad of the night. Again, impeccable. They cleverly used crispy chicken skin as croutons which were exceptional. This was paired with an earthy Vino Verde, meaning “youthful and green” from Portugal.
*Third course: **Hot Water* (Pictured at the top)
Then we were served pan-seared jumbo sea scallops over a stewed tomato succotash with hot chili oil. As someone very particular about seafood, I genuinely enjoyed the delicate scallop especially combined with the tomato. This was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc from Northern Chile that had a hint of jalapeno to compliment the chili.
*Fourth course: **Spiced Rib*
The Chinese five spice seasoned beef short rib braised in herbed soy was divine. It laid on a bed of butternut squash puree’ and sweet cilantro oil with a side of charred brussel sprouts. The subtle sweetness of this main dish perfectly transitioned our palettes for dessert. This was paired with the first red wine of the evening, and my favorite, called Tall Sage Red Blend.
*Fifth course: **Sweet Trio*
Heirloom’s Pastry Chef Rachel Child created these three different treats, so there was something for everyone. In my case, all of them were delightful, and no crumbs were left. The S’mores Cake was my absolute favorite. It was rich and chocolatey with a gooey marshmallow coating. They featured a red dessert wine from Napa Valley to accompany the chocolate flavors. Next to it was a Yuzu, or citrus, tart topped with an Asian fruit and raspberries. And lastly, a salted caramel cheesecake with pretzel crust was served, which was a nice alternative to the sugary chocolate.
You could tell the Cordrè team really put their heart and soul into this event. Every detail was flawless, and no one had any complaints. Each course was served in a timely fashion. They knew the appropriate portion sizes. Everything was cooked, seasoned, and dressed well, and the presentation itself was gorgeous.
This was the first of many pop-up restaurant takeovers for Cordrè. Chef Cordray, an executive chef in Kentucky for ten years, announced that their next will be a Kentucky Derby theme! If it is anything like this experience, you will not want to miss that one. I definitely will be there! I would highly recommend Cordrè to cater any of your events.