The Chef’s Table at Highball and Harvest

The Chef’s Table at Highball and Harvest

Here’s an irrefutable fact about dining trends: we want to be closer to our food. And not just because we’re valuing craft and quality more than ever, but because we crave the story and the humanity behind what we eat.

Which is why I think chef’s tables are taking off like wildfire. A good chef’s table is more than a menu of food; it’s a journey with the chef as narrator. It also helps that it makes people feel like royalty!

highball and harvest chef jeffers 2

Chef Mark Jeffers does the final preparation and plating at the station adjacent the chef’s table.

What could be more decadent than having a meal dotingly prepared by the chef just for you? While everyone else in the restaurant orders off the menu, you travel through a series of surprises and delights that have been designed for you and only you.

Enchanting, immersive and engaging: that’s exactly how I would describe the new Chef’s Table Experience at Highball and Harvest… but I’d add superbly delicious to that list of descriptors.

To those who’ve dined there, it likely won’t come as a surprise that Highball & Harvest launched a chef’s table experience. The highly praised Ritz-Carlton Orlando restaurant is all about steeping everything in a story. From the cocktails to the mural to the sugar caddies, everything at H&H has a tale and everyone is dying to tell it.

Same goes for everything coming out of the kitchen where Chef Mark Jeffers oversees a menu of Southern-ish fare with a zealot-like passion for local sourcing. How local? Try the-7,000 square-foot onsite Whisper Creek Farm, which sends everything from peppers to pumpkins to H&H. In fact, Whisper Creek Farm has chickens now.

The H&H Chef's Table Experience happens at a private space with its own plating kitchen.

The H&H Chef’s Table Experience happens at a private space with its own plating kitchen.

When Chef Jeffers begins sending out his chef’s table courses—of which there are five plus an amuse—he delivers them personally and tells the story of each one. What’s in it, where it came from, how he made it and why he prepared it that way. For foodies, this is heaven. And, I got the feeling this is heaven for him, too. What could be more fun for a chef than letting his/her culinary whimsy fly? Chef was in his element.

I could take you through a course-by-course description of our night but I think these photos tell a better story of our experience. And hopefully they’ll whet your appetite enough to take the plunge as well. When you do, you’ll find there’s actually one more story that’s married to this experience, and that’s the one you’ll be telling all your friends.

Here are some need-to-know details: The H&H Chef’s Table costs $185 per guest, which includes cocktail and wine parings, tax, gratuity and valet validation. Reservations can be made any night between 5:30pm and 9pm for a minimum of 4 guests and a maximum of 8 guests. For more information, call (407) 393-4422 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Orlando/Dining/Highball_Harvest/Default.htm#

highball and harvest chefs table menu

Each chef’s table experience comes with a customized menu outlining each of the five courses and pairings.

highball and harvest chefs table cocktail mixing set

The evening kicks off with a do-it-yourself cocktail you make with all the craft provisions and pro tools at your ready.

highball and harvest cocktail

At our chef’s table experience, we each made our own Sparklin’ Cran Cocktail made with Deaths Door Gin.

highball and harvest chefs table oysters

The cooked oysters, which were set on a bed of smokey wood chips and rosemary, were the surprise standout of the night.

highball and harvest riccota

This grilled apricot second course came with a house made lemon ricotta that was absolutely delicious.

highball and harvest chefs table entree

Our main course, Tamarind Marinated Skirt Steak with a pimento cheese-stuffed Yukon potato, sent us to the moon and back!

highball and harvest chefs table plating

Watching Chef Jeffers turn food into art is such a wonderful perk of the Chef’s Table Experience.

highball and harvest chef jeffers

While he worked, Chef Jeffers handled a barrage of questions about the food and tips for cooking at home. He was such a generous tutor and seemed to enjoy talking about his craft very much.

highball and harvest dessert

The finale, an oven baked apple stuffed with a terrific pecan brittle ice cream, had a sweet crunch we all loved. And after sooooo much food, it was the perfect light ending to an unforgettable feast.

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