Chef Damian Yopek, the Chef de Cuisine of the award-winning, fine-dining restaurant Rugby Grille at The Townsend Hotel (www.townsendhotel.com) in Birmingham, MI, loves to entertain.
One of his favorites is a Lobster and Burrata Salad with cauliflower, avocado, frisee, Champagne lemon gelee, and black truffle vinaigrette. He loves the contrasts in flavor and texture of the Maine lobster, creamy burrata cheese, and acidity of the Champagne lemon gelee.
Chef Damian also makes a savory and Hearty Endive and Ham Gratin with a creamy béchamel sauce. The smokiness of the ham and the endive go perfectly with the rich sauce. He particularly enjoys this dish with a fragrant Alsatian Gewürztraminer. The floralness complements the flavors of this dish, and the acidity cuts through the cream really well.
Another crowd pleaser that Chef Damian favors is his Chicken Mumbo Buns. This hand-held appetizer is a hit with his friends and pays homage to the Chinese restaurants he used to frequent while working in Washington D.C. This version incorporates fried marinated chicken thighs, marinated cucumber, red onion, and Chef Damian’s secret “mumbo sauce.” This all is wrapped in a steamed rice bun, also known as a bao.
While all three appetizers are distinctly different, they all make for a great start to a winter party menu!