Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Visiting Chef Series – Chef Rich Sweeney

On Valentine’s Eve the Hillcrest Farmers Market welcomed Chef Rich Sweeney from R-Gang Eatery at the heart of the market for a decadent dinner for two demonstration.

Chef Sweeney’s meal included sweet and savory shrimp on the barbie over a salad of fresh mixed greens, citrus, and tomatoes with an apple vinaigrette.

The shrimp were marinated in a maple gastrique and started earlier that morning- Chef Sweeney suggested that when recreating the dish you start the gastrique earlier in the day for the fullest flavor. A gastrique is typically a sauce that, in its simplest form, is made of citrus and caramelized sugar. Chef Sweeney used maple syrup, brown sugar and lemon juice. Before firing up the barbecue you should also soak your bamboo skewers for at least 20 minutes to prevent them from burning up on the bbq.

A few other pointers from Chef Sweeney on shrimp include erring on the side of caution when seasoning them; they tend to be briney, and you don’t want to over season them. Also, cook them over medium heat for only a couple of minutes on each side. You can always put them back on the bbq if they are undercooked, but overcooked shrimp are not so tasty. Remember, less is more. One of the favorite tidbits of information that was shared on Sunday was in reference to dressing a salad- because the dressing has vinegar in it, it will wilt the lettuce in a hurry if you apply it directly to the top of the salad. Chef Sweeney suggests that you have your salad in a large mixing bowl, and pour the dressing onto the side of the bowl. As it drips down the side, roll the lettuce with your hands throughout the bowl to get maximum dressing coverage, with minimal wiltage.

To reach Chef Sweeney, you can stop by R-Gang Eatery, located on 5th Ave just south of Pennsylvania in Hillcrest, or you can e-mail him and his crew at If you sign up for the R-Gang newsletter, they promised to forward this weekend’s recipe to everyone!

If you missed the Visiting Chef Series this month, check back for updates on up and coming events at! And swing by the Info Booth from now until March 6th to enter to win two tickets to Mardi Gras on March 8!

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