Remember when a 10-course meal seemed like a lot? Always one to push the limits, Scott Pampuch turned out 100 courses at a recent one-of-a-kind culinary event.
As the newly minted district executive chef at the University of Minnesota, Aramark, Pampuch has brought with him his experience with some of Minneapolis' most celebrated restaurants, where he was a founding father of the locavore movement. He's also the creator of Tour de Farm, a series of true farm-to-table dining experiences.
For the 100 course meal, Pampuch invited anyone who'd like to either stay the duration or just pop in for a few courses. The epic meal took place during Northern Spark, a festival of the arts put on by the University of Minnesota Dining Services and the Institute for Advanced Study. It was free for everyone who attended. After about five days of preparation, rain threatened, so the meal was moved indoors, but after that, it was pretty smooth sailing. With a culinary staff of about 35, Pampuch turned up the summer food scene one gorgeous course after another.
At 9:30 p.m., 100 people sat down and another 40 or so were standing in line. It was a first-come-first-serve system that worked until almost 6 a.m. the next morning. By the time it was all over, about 500 people had tasted such deceptively simple dishes as Egg + Truffle, Gravlax + Capers, and even Salt + Pepper (the first course).
"Like anything else, we had some things go south during the course of the event. A few desserts courses, we skipped and came up with others on the fly. Some people stayed for 10 or 12 courses but wanted to get up and see the rest of the event," Pampuch says. "I saw them struggling to get up because they wanted more. That was some good feedback."
With help from a friend, Pampuch tweeted the courses as they came out. Check out the pictures of Pampuch's selection of the meal's highlights that he says best represent what he set out to do.
"I wanted to focus on the craft of cooking and the craft of taste," Pampuch says. "Culinary isn't an art form. It's a craft. And if someone perceives it as artistic...if I come up with the perfect pairing, I'm using my craft to convey a message. Is that art or is it not?" Something to ponder for sure—but if you hang out with Pampuch, you won't have to do so on an empty stomach.
Click through to check out Pampuch's picks of the courses that were most representative of the meal.