chef Jennifer Hill Booker Shines at ROOTS Festival
Garrett Moore shares favorite foods from Fayetteville ROOTS Festival this year
Roots Fest food a delight for eyes, nose, mouth by Garrett Moore | September 2, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
Three cheers for the Fayetteville Roots Festival! On the culinary side, the festival has undoubtedly grown to provide some top-notch offerings.
When it rolls around next year, I encourage you to plan your meals around it.
I was able to attend several events, so allow me to rave about a few of my favorite dishes. We'll be back next week with an assortment of new restaurant openings and announcements across Northwest Arkansas.
Shrimp and Grits
Chef Jennifer Hill Booker of Bauhaus Biergarten
“Chef Jennifer Hill Booker’s take on shrimp and grits” at the Roots Festival restaurant takeover at Atlas in Fayetteville featured cubes of smoked sausage, warm polenta, blue crab and shrimp, garnished with sun-dried tomato gremolata and cheese. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Garrett Moore)
The server called it "Chef Jennifer Hill Booker's take on shrimp and grits."
At a six-course meal Saturday at Atlas in Fayetteville, Booker provided an inviting course I could smell from across the room.
Cubes of smoked andouille sausage, warm porridge called polenta and blue crab were topped with shrimp and garnished with sun-dried tomato gremolata and cheese. Undoubtedly, the European flair of the dish and the inclusion of sausage makes me excited for the opening of the chef's German restaurant, Bauhaus Biergarten, later this year in downtown Springdale.
Erick Williams of Virtue Restaurant in Chicago, Ill., was the recipient of the 2022 Best Chef Great Lakes award by the James Beard Foundation and the 2022 Jean Banchet Award for Chef of the Year. Well-deserved accolades, it seems.
Williams produced a rich plate of A5 Wagyu -- that's the highest grade of Japanese beef. Think small slices of buttery, marbled beef with a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Squash, okra and confit potato accompanied, and a red wine reduction was drizzled over the whole affair.
Jason Paul of Heirloom in Rogers assembled a light bowl that tasted like a spring afternoon at a fishing pond: chilled wild salmon with summer melon, cilantro puree and chili in a puddle of tomato water.
No entry about the night would be complete without a salute to the other chefs, including Tyler Rogers of Hail Fellow Well Met in Johnson and Lindsay Carrol and Elliot Hunt of Atlas. The experience was certainly the highlight of a flavorful week.
Chef Rafael Rios: Yeyo's
Throughout Friday, the Taste & Talk series at the Fayetteville Public Library was a good time for both the adventurous foodie and the curious consumer.
Those lucky festival guests who wandered into the free event on Mexican cuisine and mezcal, titled "Espiritu de Mexico," unwittingly sat down to a multi-course lunch from Chef Rafael Rios of Yeyo's in Bentonville and Rogers.
While listening to Rios explain each dish, patrons were treated to back-to-back rounds of food, including tacos with a black bean paste; mole; rabbit meat taquitos topped with salsa, crema and cheese and laid on a bed of guacamole; and Mexican craft vanilla ice cream from the Rios-owned Sweet Dream Creamery.
Sips of smoky and sweet mezcal samples punctuated the session, courtesy of Eduardo Belaunzaran and his Wahaka Mezcal.
Chef Merlin Verrier: Street Feud
Denver chef Merlin Verrier brought a fun lunch to the festival's pop-up cafe at the library.
A boat of french fries was topped with kim chi, crispy cubes of pork belly, cheese sauce, crema, green onions and sesame seeds.
The item is on the menu at Street Feud in Denver. No doubt, I was left wishing I could visit Verrier's restaurant for some more loaded fries.
Grand Opening October 8th, 2022
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