The Rare Craft Experience with Anthony Bourdain
This past November, A La Carte had the pleasure of helping to put on the Houston leg of The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection Tour curated by Anthony Bourdain. The event was a 3-day guided tour which included samples, tastings, and demos by skilled artisans in metalworking, sculptors, letterpress, cooping, and watchmaking.
The Momentum Worldwide team work tirelessly through the night to create these amazing interior installations. The simple geometric plywood cutouts and cardboard tubing worked so well in Silver Street Studios’s Drive Thru venue space, giving the event a warm industrial feel that fit very nicely with the Rare Craft brand.
On the first leg of the tour, guests were each given their own Rare Craft branded nosing glass, and our bartenders treated them to a sampling of Balvenie’s 12 Year Old DoubleWood Whiskey. While enjoying the smooth and mellow single malt scotch, attendees mixed and mingled in the cozy lounge space.
Next, the groups moved into the work spaces. There they were able to have a face-to-face with each of the five hand-picked artisans in the fields of metal-working, printmaking and sculpture and see them in action.
Once the artisans’ sections were completed, it was on to the Tasting Rooms. Here, guests participated in an interactive sampling of each of the single malts in the Rare Craft Collection. During the lively presentation, they were schooled on history and cultivation of each spirit, and how to properly partake to enjoy the whisky at its finest.
The guests that came for the second night of tours got an extra special surprise because this evening Mr. Bourdain himself surprised each of the groups with a Q & A session. There was even a photo session that followed.
This Whiskey lounge was where the ALC team got to WOW the guests with our scrumptious bites. On the menu, our Beef Tenderloin Canapes, Pancetta Crisps with Whipped Goat Cheese, Fresh Thyme, Honey and Pear, Leek & Gruyere Paninis, Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread, Truffled Mac ‘n Cheese Spoons. By this time, everyone had built up quite the appetite, so these flew off the platters. There were plenty to go around, so everyone got their fill.
Amidst the behind the scenes hustle and bustle of getting hot, fresh hors d’ouevres out to the Lounge guests, I was able to seize an amazing opportunity. As I was helping our kitchen staff plate a new platter of Leek and Gruyere paninis, I noticed Anthony Bourdain and his “entourage” (just his assistant and a couple Balvenie reps), were preparing to leave after his last Q & A session. As I would at any of our events, I went over to make sure our host was taken care. Aware that Anthony had been busy talking and schmoozing and had not had the chance to grab a bite, I asked if he and the group would like to come over for a few bite. They obliged, and followed me over to our prep area. Cool as a cucumber (food pun intended), I gave the group a rundown of the menu, and they dug in. Satisfied full-mouthed grins shortly followed.
Anthony chose the Leek & Gruyere Panini. After a couple bites and a moment to savor he replied, “Good” *short contemplative pause* “Very good!” Thumbs up to follow. He chatted with a couple of our staff members while finishing his the last few bites, then off her went, but not before snagging another for the road. I’d say this was pretty darn close to an endorsement, wouldn’t you? Jokes aside, this moment was the cherry on top of an amazingly successful three days.