Local chefs to feed United NationsPublished 8:15pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013
SpringHouse executive chef Rob McDaniel has cooked on some of the biggest stages but never one as unique as the stage he and three other chefs will take in New York.
McDaniel, Willow Point executive chef Chris Doggett, SpringHouse sous chef Chris Cantrell and Kowaliga executive chef Russell Bodner have been tabbed to prepare a three-course meal on behalf of the Auburn University College of Human Sciences, along with the United Nations.
Auburn University will be awarding Apple CEO Tim Cook with its International Quality of Life award. The award has been in existence for 25 years, and according to McDaniel, reaching the 25th anniversary called for a special occasion.
“The International Quality of Life award goes to people who have done really good things for mankind,” McDaniel said. “Madeline Albright has won it and Desmond Tutu has won it. Usually, the United Nations handles the food but with it being the 25th anniversary, Auburn felt it would be special if an Auburn graduate prepared the meal. So they asked me to do it, and one other person and I went up to New York to meet with the United Nations and work it out.”
McDaniel graduated from Auburn with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. Cook, this year’s honoree, is also an Auburn graduate.
“I was ecstatic when I heard that they wanted me to do it,” McDaniel said. “I’m very proud of my relationship with Auburn University as well as graduating from there.”
McDaniel, Doggett, Cantrell and Bodner are set to prepare a meal for 400 people.
When asked if he was nervous, McDaniel said it depended on what others defined as nerves.
“I’ve been on Iron Chef and all of that stuff,” McDaniel said. “But I’ve never been on a stage like this one as far as being personally in charge of doing everything, especially with being away from the restaurant. I’m not nervous right now, but I do have lists constantly running through my head. I want to make sure we have everything we need and that we execute what we’re supposed to. Some would call that being nervous.”
Several items will be prepared by McDaniel and his fellow chefs, such as chicken liver truffles, cornbread muffins with smoked tomato marmalade, 18-month prosciutto ham with angel biscuits and the main course, a variation of chicken and dumplings.
“We’re going to do what we do at SpringHouse,” McDaniel said. “We wouldn’t go anywhere and make something that’s not representative of what we’re about.”
In addition to cooking on such a stage, McDaniel said he’s looking forward to working with his fellow Russell Lands chefs.
“One of the coolest things about all of this is that we have awesome restaurants at Russell Lands and a lot of talented chefs, but it’s rare that we get to work together,” McDaniel said. “It’s going to be great for us to do what we love while getting a chance to hang out in New York. Two of the guys have never been, so that should be cool. I’m excited to represent SpringHouse and Russell Lands.”
McDaniel, Doggett, Cantrell and Bodner will depart for New York on Saturday, with the ceremony – and the meal -– to be held on Tuesday, Dec. 10.