Dining Out: 10 chefs bring their personalities to the table

Bill EisenmannRGCC mug.jpg
Bill Eisenmann

Annually, the Rochester Signature Chefs Auctionfeatures some of the area's finest culinary talent.

Ten talented chefs, each hoping to win the "Best in Category" for the appetizer or entree they have crafted, will participate in the 23rd annual event on Nov. 5. The event supports the March of Dimes.

As Chef Jason Windsorof Victoria's Ristorantenotes, "seasonal timing" is apt to influence what each chef presents.

In addition, each has his own personal approach that guides them in creating new dishes. Windsor came from a background where family was very important and food was prepared to serve as "shared dishes." These days, he continues to "cook from the heart" as his creative and warm-hearted nature drives him to create dishes that he feels will please.

Chef Seth Essar, at The Half Barrel Bar & Kitchen, notes that in his personal life, he tends to be impulsive and aggressive, seeing himself as "an adrenaline junkie." Take this into the kitchen, and Seth finds himself throwing things spontaneously together then evaluating how they turned out. He thrives in the "thrill of the kitchen."


Other chefs demonstrate a calmer, quieter demeanor. Chef Alex Sjoberg, at Grand Rounds Brewpub, describes his approach to things as "low and slow," taken in an "unrushed" manner but with intent. His dishes often entail slow, thoughtful cooking to allow for layering and depth of flavors, creating elevated comfort food.

Chef Bill Eisenmann, who cooks daily for members of the Rochester Golf and Country Club, sees himself as sensible, grounded and having a modest nature. In the kitchen, he holds fast to a few basic tenets: simple food done well, which reflects technique and ability and is grounded on local products.

Sensibility also fits with Chef Juan Valenciaof the Loop Bar and Restaurant. Additionally Valencia notes he "loves variety" and never lets anything go to waste. Spice has always been a big part of how he prepares dishes.

Chef Derek Jensen, at Chester's Kitchen & Bar, describes himself as a Midwestern Americana comfort food person deeply ingrained in the food he grew up with. His strong work and family ethic — of doing ones best and remembering ones roots — drives him to be practical in the kitchen with a focus on creating dishes he describes as "homegrown."

Starting each day with "openness to the unexpected," Chef Erik Kleven, of Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery, works similarly as he creates new dishes on a daily basis. Being someone who is continually open to the "new possibilities" of the day, it is no surprise that he likes putting new twists on already established or common dishes, turning them into "a new experience."

Reflecting on his easy-going, laid-back manner, Chris Hodapp, at the Rochester International Event Center, describes the dishes he leans toward creating as simply and laid-back yet refined, resulting in an end product that is "full of surprises."

Others who will be participating in this years' event are Chef Kyle Stumpffrom Somerby Golf Cluband Chef James Powersfrom Treasure Island Resort & Casino.

For attendees, this is an opportunity to engage in lively conversation with chefs as you sample their special creations, support the March of Dimes, and learn firsthand which chef wins top honors.


What:March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction

When:5:30 p.m. Nov. 5. Live program begins at 7 p.m.

Where:Rochester International Event Center


Information:June Howard, 507-990-8624, <a href = "" > </a>

Note:New this year is the appearance of celebrity chef Daniel Green, who along with the event center will be serving a signature dessert.

Raffle:Tickets $100, winner gets first pick of one of the live auction items.


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