Premiere Cincinnati Food Event: 1 Night, 12 Kitchens

Nayoro April 26, 2010

After passing the head chef at Cumin in the hallway, I notice a mob of people up ahead. They are surrounding Jean-Robert de Cavel who is dutifully shaking hands and smiling. From behind, I hear the rolling wheels of a rickety cart approaching. It’s Nectar’s Julie Francis and she’s moving a bunch of sheet trays lined with fiddlehead ferns. Forty feet to my left, Chef Todd Kelly is explaining his version of a pork belly sandwich.

Am I hallucinating? Has my love of food finally pushed me over the edge? Luckily for me, no. Along with hundreds of other Cincinnati epicureans, I am at a fundraiser for my school, the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. It’s the food event of the year, 1 Night, 12 Kitchens.

The florescent lit halls I have come to know so well look nothing like themselves. Instead of bustling with students, they echo with the murmurs of women in pointy heeled shoes and men in sports coats. As glasses of wine are swirled and sipped, Cincinnati’s most celebrated chefs prepare generous tastings of appetizers, main courses and desserts.

It feels like the Taste of Cincinnati on crack. With volunteer culinary students at the ready, dozens of tables are filled with small, decadent platefuls; a fava bean salad with Pecorino Romano; a confit and fried chicken wing; duck fat fries drizzled with with the renderings of fois gras.

Chefs who are often hidden in the back kitchen are front and center. While some of them work the room, others hunch over small burners and get down to business. Meanwhile, throughout the building, guests are enraptured by the contents of their plates. Some move methodically, picking and choosing stations from which to sample. Others move briskly and determined, hoping to try every dish offered.

It’s a three-hour, all-you-can-eat, gourmet, buffet. And it’s a reminder of the finer things in life. The chefs, the instructors, the wine representatives, the vendors, the culinary students – we’re all gathered together under the same roof. And there’s something comforting in it, something warming about the fact that we’ve all come together for the same reason.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend 1 Night, 12 Kitchens last night, make sure you make a mental note for next year. If you’re anything like me, you’ll leave feeling inspired by the talent and creative energy in our vibrant local food scene.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

foodhussy April 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

@Epiventures i saw you! i knew you looked familiar – i should have said hi!


Chris Ohmer April 26, 2010 at 10:30 am

I really like your photos from the event. Thanks for sharing your insiders point of view.


Chris Ohmer
Marketing Director
Cincinnati Magazine/Cincinnati Wedding


Courtney April 26, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Thanks, Chris. When I started getting serious about cooking (before I made the great leap to culinary school), the first recipe I made for Sunday dinner was one out of the 1 Night, 12 Kitchens recipe book. (Specifically, it was the horseradish crusted fish from Embers). I had a bottomless fascination for “real restaurant recipes” and it was the only real place I could find them. I have a soft place for 1N12K.


RxMarsha April 28, 2010 at 9:20 am

My first comment on a blog. All day long I am dealing with physicians and their office managers, but when I get home I really enjoy cooking. It is like going back to my organic chemistry lab — only the experiment is with food. I was not aware of this Top Chef event but hope to go to it next year.


Courtney May 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

If you do go next year you’ll have to report back. This event is full of inspiring dishes. I’m thinking you’ll love it.


Laurie Schrand April 30, 2010 at 3:40 am

As an instructor and a participant of this event I would like to say thank you for your blog. We all work very hard to make this event a success.


dc April 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Love the way you captured the chefs. Getting to connect with the people behind the restaurants and the culinary school is one of the reasons this event is the best food event in the city.


Courtney May 1, 2010 at 7:42 am

Laurie and dc, It was exciting. It felt like Christmas. Your efforts showed and were appreciated.


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