On Friday, the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center hosts one of Boston's biggest summer barbecues. Chefs in Shorts, the annual outdoor, gourmet cook-off now in its 19th year, will bring a few dozen of the city's best chefs and an estimated thousand hungry Bostonians down to the waterfront for a celebration of the grill. Chefs unleash their culinary creativity, diners circle the stations and vote on the best dish, and ticket proceeds will benefit Future Chefs, an organization that gives young people a path to succeed in the culinary business.
Richard Rayment, executive chef at the Seaport Hotel, plays host for the 14th time this year. He's serving up grilled steak and watermelon with a feta and arugula salad.
"When you put all the components together, you've got the salty from the feta, and then the arugula which is peppery, and then you've got a little sweet from the watermelon,” says Rayment. "We actually grill the watermelon, and then we've got the steak on top."
For Rayment and the other chefs, it's a chance to cook in a more relaxed atmosphere and to try out new ideas.
"It's really casual and you're actually seeing the chefs cooking," he says. "It's totally different from what you'd think. The chefs get really creative with what they're doing."
Jason Heard, the executive chef at South Boston's Coppersmith, is partaking for the first time. Though he's not quite sure what to expect, he and his team came up with a dish so American that biting into it probably sounds like "The Star-Spangled Banner" played on a baseball park organ.
"We put pickled jalepeño cheese sauce on top of burnt-end chili, which is on a footlong hotdog,” Heard tells us. But what are burnt ends, asks the pescatarian, half-Canadian writing this article?
"When you're trimming up brisket for service you're always left with these ends,” he explains. “We put those back in the smoker for another two hours, so they're really crusty, but then they're braised in beer for the chili."
Proceeds from the $80 tickets go to Future Chefs, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides resources for disadvantaged high school students aspiring to work in the culinary field.
"It's a brilliant organization," Rayment said. "[The students] come to the event [and] they help some of the chefs on the grill. This year, there are some from the restaurant who actually graduated from the program."
Three more items we can't wait to try:
Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center – Karen Hodsdon, pastry chef:
Campfire S’mores in a Tin with graham crackers, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, topped with vanilla ice cream and fudge
Earls Kitchen + Bar – Cyrus Winter, senior sous chef:
Slow Braised BBQ Back Ribs with Earls' signature BBQ sauce, warm potato salad, coleslaw
Serafina – Brendan Burke, corporate chef:
Charred octopus with melon gazpacho, pickled blackberries, fried elephant garlic
If you go:
June 24 at 7 to 10 p.m.
Chefs in Shorts
Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center
1 Seaport Lane