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Boston’s Chefs in Shorts food fest celebrates 20th anniversary

The Seaport’s popular summer cookout has grown a lot over the past two decades.
Chefs in Shorts
Expect lots of great food and Bermuda shorts. Photo by Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center

Chefs in Shorts celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, which means two decades of culinary experts sporting their best Bermudas as they grill up a storm in the Seaport.

Just as the area has grown and changed immensely over the years, so has the annual summer event. What began as an outdoor cookout on the small park next the Seaport Hotel is now a huge food festival held on the terraces at the much larger World Trade Center, located directly across from the hotel.

It’s hard to imagine a time when the area wasn’t bustling with people, but the Seaport Hotel created the event to lure folks to the neighborhood, which previously featured mostly wide-open spaces and parking lots with few attractions beyond the tented music venue, then known as Harbor Lights. Now you can barely see the harbor and few folks need luring, as the Seaport has transformed into a hotspot for day-to-night activity.

Some of Boston’s culinary luminaries have manned Chefs in Shorts’ grills since its inception, including renowned celebrity chef Todd English, Davio’s Steve DiFillippo, Prezza’s Anthony Caturano, Ashmont Grille’s Chris Douglass, and the Langham Hotel’s Mark Sapienza, all of whom helped put Boston on the foodie map. The event also serves an a nice introduction for up-and-coming chefs like Mario LaPosta, who heads the team at nearby Babbo, New York chef Mario Batali's popular pizza emporium.

It might be LaPosta’s first year at Chefs in Shorts, but he is no rookie, having cut his teeth at Batali’s renowned Tarrytown Lodge in Port Chester, New York. The New England native, born in northern Connecticut and with family roots in Maine, is happy to now call Boston home.

“We feel like we’re totally involved in the city and can reach out to the community with these types of events,” he says. “Being at the event is a way to say we’re here and we are a part of it all.”

For the event, LaPosta will make bruschetta with grilled primo sale (a traditional Sicilian cheese made locally) topped with a cherry mostarda and hot sausage paired with peppers. “The homemade hot sausage comes from a family recipe that goes back decades,” LaPosta says. “The garlicky bruschetta, the sweet mostarda and this amazing cheese… I’ve never made this before, but it sounds good in my head. Plus, I want to do something for people who don’t want to eat meat.”

While he looks forward to the grilling, LaPosta must also prepare for the requisite summer attire.

“Do all the chefs wear shorts?” LaPosta asks as if looking for a get-out. Oh yes, they do. “Then I have to, don’t I? I’m not shy. I have a nice calves — oh, is that too much information?”

If you go:

June 23, 7 p.m. - 10 p.m., Seaport World Trade Center
, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston, $90, seaportboston.com

 

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