Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts October 2003
Short Cuts:Fancy, Yet Affordable
Impressive appetizers for tight budgets
"Food doesn’t have to be expensive to taste great,” says Steven
Sumner, executive chef at Rancho Valencia Resort, a Relais &
Chateaux property in Santa Fe, Calif. (www.ranchovalencia.com). “The key is freshness and a good
combination of flavors.” Consider the following elegant, affordable
• Instead of sea scallops in the traditional puff pastry, serve
the less-pricey bay scallops and pump up the flavor with shallots,
onion and leeks.
• Creative vegetarian bites are ideal cost cutters. Sumner
suggests baby artichokes stuffed with garlic and spinach. Or, shape
wild mushrooms to resemble bite-size Hershey kisses wrapped in a
phyllo dough. “Chanterelle and portabello mushrooms are higher-end,
but by using them in small quantities, you get a better flavor for
a third of the cost of serving them whole,” Sumner says.
• Organic products can transform a ho-hum vegetable tray into a
colorful sensory treat, notes Christopher Blobaum, executive chef
at Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif. (www.surfandsandresort.com). “Products grown in organic
soil have bursts of flavor,” says Blobaum.
• Another fabulous vegetarian option:
heirloom tomatoes stuffed with a Spanish olive tapenade. For
pennies more, substitute prosciutto and chives.
• “People go ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ when they see chefs at work at an
action station,” says Blobaum. His low-cost suggestion: Grill baby
vegetables, like leeks, or little griddle cakes made of wild
mushrooms and risotto.
• Seafood can work well on any menu, insists Sumner. He uses
imitation crab to create tasty fritters made with roasted corn and
chilies. “It is one-third the cost of a crab cake, which is made of
95 percent crab,” he says.
• CHERYL-ANNE STURKEN
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