By Emily Stringer
What do sous vide chicken and Southtown have in common?
Jamie Lauren, former contestant on 'Top Chef' prepares a dish for a Special Projects Social dinner in December.
The answer is celebrity chef Jamie Lauren. A top chef on season 5 of the Bravo show and a "Top Chef All-Stars" contestant, Lauren was in San Antonio late last year to cook at a pop-up dinner with Tim Mcdiarmid, also known as Tim the Girl. Lauren and Tim have been longtime friends since meeting in New York City years ago. The two have maintained a close friendship and continue to inspire each other with collaborative culinary artistry.
That led to Lauren's San Antonio visit and the special Tim-the-Girl dinner, which she calls Special Projects Social. The theme was Speakeasy, and it was served in an artistic basement of a spacious Southtown house on the river. The food proved to be as magical as the setting. Libations from Jeret Peña of The Brooklynite flowed, and guests dressed in 1920s attire to celebrate the speakeasy theme.
Each of the guests enjoyed not only the great food but also being in the company of the two dynamic chefs.
One of Lauren's menu items was an herb-infused sous vide chicken, which she prepped at chef/restaurateur Jason Dady’s BIN 555 kitchen. She also had time to visit and taste other flavors of San Antonio. She said the warmth and unique culinary scene of the Alamo City has inspired her and she hopes to return again soon and make another meal for the Special Projects Social.
She answered a few questions for SavorSA about her visit.
How do you know Tim the Girl?
Tim and I used to work together years ago in NYC at a restaurant named Annisa. Tim was the bartender and I was a line cook. We are talking, like, 12-13 years here.
Chef Jamie Lauren (left) and Tim Mcdiarmid (Tim the Girl) of Special Projects Social, San Antonio.
Tim asked if I would do the event about a year or so ago, and I jumped at the chance. I have spent a lot of time in Austin, but never San Antonio, and I really wanted to see what the city was all about. I enjoyed myself and ate my weight in queso
. I think the majority of the food I ate in Texas involved melted cheese.
What were your impressions of San Antonio? Any memorable meals?
I loved it! I thought the food scene was really fun ... we had a great breakfast at this Mexican place called Cascabel, really phenomenal mole. The Monterey had some very delicious food as well, especially those Brussels sprouts.
What does your future hold in the food world?
I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. I'm currently taking a break from running a kitchen or restaurant, I got really burnt out on the restaurant world. I've started working in TV production as a culinary producer, and I am currently working on a show called "MasterChef" -- it's a nice change.
Are there any other non-food-related aspirations on your plate?
I still want to learn how to fly a plane. Someday.
What types of foods are inspiring you these days?
One of the dishes Jamie Lauren prepared at the Projects Social 'Speakeasy' in December.
I am really into foods from the Caribbean for whatever reason. I love the flavors; pineapple, coconut, habanero, jerk spice, etc. I feel like that kind of cuisine is hard to find in certain places and I tend to seek it out. I also love Creole and Cajun flavors, and love playing around with those in dishes here and there.
Will you be back to Texas? And can we look forward to another Special Projects dinner?
Absolutely! I'd love to. I think Tim and I should collaborate on a hundred more of these dinners! It was so fun. I can't wait to come back.
Emily Stringer is a blogger, public relations professional and free-lance writer in San Antonio.
Photos by Xelina Flores-Chasnoff.
About The Special Projects Social: It is an artistic pop-up-style restaurant concept that was created by Tim Mcdiarmid (Tim the Girl) and Peter Zuibate. The two have formed a common interest of hosting food enthusiasts, artists, and a people who appreciate something new in San Antonio through a meal, drinks, music and socializing wrapped into one evening. The Special Projects have been successful and ticket sales often sell out within hours of being announced. The Speakeasy was one of many inventive themes. For more information, visit http://www.thespecialprojectssocial.com/
Guests at Special Projects Social 'Speakeasy.'