In addition to her work at Washington Place Bistro, executive sous chef Melissa Khoury is skilled in the delicious art of charcuterie. Her products are enjoyed by diners not only at Washington Place, but also at area restaurants including Hodge's. So, for her first Emerging Chefs dinner, Khoury naturally gravitated to pork.
Set for 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, in the rebuilt barn of the historic Dunham Tavern, Khoury's "Snout-to-Tail" dinner will celebrate the whole blessed hog. A Berkshire porker will be roasted whole, with the meat served family-style as the entrée. All the other tasty bits — trotters, head, and skin — will be transformed into snacks, starters, and sides. That includes an amusé of crispy pig ears, a second course of braised pork cheeks, and for dessert, a chocolately "ode to bacon."
"My talent is to take the less desirable cuts and turn them into something amazing," explains Khoury. "I want to use this dinner to showcase what I do."
Acting as Khoury's assistant will be chef Ellis Cooley, her former boss from her days at AMP 150. Cooley has since relocated to Florida.
"We did an earlier Emerging Chefs event together and had a blast," she says. "Ellis told me before he left town that if I ever did one of these events, he'd come back and be my sous chef for the day. He actually held true to his word."
Just 90 spots are available. Go to emergingchefs2012-3.eventbrite.com/ to reserve your seats.
Dunham Tavern Museum is at 6709 Euclid Avenue.
FOUNTAIN RUNS DRY: May 6 was the final day of operation at Fountain, a European-style café at 34105 Chagrin Boulevard in Moreland Hills.
German-born owner Iris Wheeler had always dreamed of operating a Euro café in Cleveland. She got her chance when Fountain opened last summer under the stewardship of renowned chef Donna Chriszt. But despite favorable reviews of the restaurant's food, Chriszt was out within a few months, replaced by chef Brian Okin.
Wheeler now says the restaurant biz isn't all she had hoped it would be, and she's glad to have made her escape.
As for Okin, he says he's got a number of promising irons in the fire. Stay tuned for more news as it develops.
HERE'S THE RUB: Many people smoke meats as a hobby. Few take the leap to retail. But that's precisely what Ken and Wendy Mueller did last week when they opened their new Mayfield Heights barbecue biz, Smoked.
The big plunge came after years of catering, participating in barbecue competitions, and keeping their friends and family well fed.
"People kept telling us to open a restaurant — it's that good, they say," says Ken Mueller.
Located inside the decades-old DiCillo Tavern, Smoked is the couple's first foray into bricks-and-mortar operation. But they've had years to perfect their style.
"I've been smoking meats for 12 years," says Ken. "I consider smoked meat the only true barbecue." That means no pre-boiling or braising, no liquid smoke, and just enough sauce. "The meat is the star. The smoke and sauce are just there to enhance the flavor."
Meats are dry-rubbed with a proprietary spice blend 24 hours in advance of cooking. Then they are slowly smoked over hickory for upwards of 16 hours.
The house specialties include St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket. Ken describes his sauce as a cross between Texas and Carolina styles, possessing enough vinegar to cut through the richness.
Other offerings include pulled pork nachos, cowboy spaghetti (with pulled pork), and a Polish Boy featuring a smoked hot dog, of course.
Kitchen hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. DiCillo's is at 6088 Mayfield Road. Call 440-442-2755 for more info.