Maximum Flavor is the latest book by husband and wife dynamic duo Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot. Together they run the Ideas In Food blog where they blow the minds of novice cook and skilled pro alike by sharing their innovative, experimental, and technique driven cooking. Last Monday night at a dinner celebrating the book release, Chef Joe Sparatta along with Chef Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt welcomed Alex to Heritage to share some of those recipes with Richmond.
Obviously, having Alex in Richmond was thrilling for the gang at Heritage and for the RVA diners who sold out the event. Aki was unable to be there, busy tending to another event in what I imagine to be a hectic schedule for the pair.
Alex made very clear her importance in their collaborations, “There is no ‘Ideas In Food’ without Aki.”
A human fly on the kitchen wall, I myself was looking forward to witnessing the complicated choreography of a busy kitchen, with not only a special guest and a slew of new dishes, but also a handful of chefs who would normally be in their own restaurants. I was determined to stay out the way and watch the mayhem of a busy kitchen play out.
Servers brought in hand written tickets, ecshewing the P.O.S. system for the night. Cooks filled clay bowls, beautifully handmade by one of the servers, with pepperoni ramen (wakame noodles, octopus, watermelon radish) and plated succulent lamb shoulder (yellow mustard gnocchi sardi, in a lamb heart ragu). Joe ran expo, constantly checking in with wife and co-owner Emilia, who had the front of house locked down with the help of their expert staff. Emilia’s brother, co-owner and bar manager Mattias, was joined by T. Leggett (also of The Roosevelt) on bar and featured a special cocktail menu. Alex delighted diners by running food and explaining dishes. I was struck by all of these pairs from the authors themselves and the chefs who executed the 5 course meal, to the husband and wife restauranteurs and two of RVA’s favorite bar men.
Chef Sparatta’s M.O. appears to be the more the merrier, always focused on including his fellow chefs and cooks in events and collaborations when he can. The RVA restaurant community is better for it. It was nothing short of joyful to watch this group of friends, busting hump together, laughing quite a bit and making many happy bellies in the process. Some pics below: