Saturday, May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024
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Flavors of Passion Awards in Dallas


Last Thursday there was plenty of loud music, loud food, and loud drinks at the 2010 Flavors of Passion Awards held at the Westin Park Central Hotel. The celebration, which rewards Latino culinary talent, was founded by Felipe Gaytan, currently executive chef at Via Real in Irving (stolen for that position from The Mansion on Turtle Creek where he worked under Dean Fearing). Flavors of Passion is, he says, the first event to honor Latino chefs. It also awards scholarships to Latino culinary students who aspire to be the next generation of leading Latino chefs. This is the second year of the awards but it already has the backing of major corporate sponsorship from brands like Coca Cola, Ben E. Keith, Hennessy Cognac, Cadillac, and Taxco Produce.

Awards are made in several categories:

The Local DFW Award: Chef Mario Reyes, Nestle Professional. Dallas.
State Award: Chef Luis Rene Fernandez, Chef/Proprietor Azuca Nuevo Latino restaurant and Bar, San Antonio, TX
National Award: Chef Aarón Sánchez. Owner & Executive Chef Centrico & Paladar, Food Network Star & Cookbook Author, New York City.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Chef Douglas Rodriguez. Executive Chef/Owner, Yuca, Patria, Chicama, Pipa. Cookbook Author. Miami.
Entrepreneur Award: Gloria Rubio. Owner Gloria's Restaurants, Dallas.

Each chef provided hors d’oeuvres for the evening. Out of town chefs recruited a local crew. Both Brookhollow Country Club and El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute provided brigades for visitors. While everybody who was somebody made a speech I cruised around the food and drink booths at the back.

At Gloria’s, everybody had the same idea as me, it seems, as the place was mobbed. Those who made their way to the front dined on a combination of Salvadorian, Tex-Mex and Mexican dishes. Gloria Rubio’s daughter Nancy took me through them: ceviche made with orange roughy, scallops and shrimp marinated in lime juice. Plantanos fritos (fried plantains). Salvadorian papusas (a handmade corn tortilla made out of masa harina stuffed with pork and cheese. This was a ‘black beanless’ variation) and Salvadorian tamales (softer than Mexican tamales and stuffed with chicken and potatoes).

Luis Rene Fernandez at Azuca Nuevo parted from the traditional dishes that dominated the culinary selections with a “Chino-Latino Ceviche”. A ceviche served with seaweed and fried plantain and sesame seeds. He also had Moqueca de Camarao, a Brazilian shrimp stew or curry.

Douglas Rodriguez wrapped bacon around dates stuffed with almonds and then deep fried the resulting slug to synthesize the melted bacon fat with the filling. His ceviche (you had to have a ceviche, unless you were with the press) was made of octopus.
Aaron Sanchez was assisted by El Centro scholarship award winner Judy Cires in making quesadillas filled with Oaxaca cheese and edible flowers.
Mario Reyes was ambitious making Risotto in a Roasted Nut Timbale.
The organizers even had the foresight to serve good wine and, for those who preferred, there was Hennessy Cognac.