Spring lamb dinner at Salt is a tour de force

Written by Hal B. Klein on

Last night executive chef Kevin Sousa joined forces with Salt of the Earth chef de cuisine Chad Townsend, Eleven executive chef Derek Stevens, Casbah sous chef Dustin Gardner and visiting chef Sean Ehland (formerly of Kaya, now pastry chef of McCrady’s in Charleston, S.C.) to produce a nine-course dinner celebrating spring’s most iconic animal, the lamb.

Four holistically raised lambs from Elysian Fields in Waynesburg were broken down into sections during a marathon butchering session at Eleven that lasted until around 3 a.m. Thursday. Over the next few days, the chefs tested and refined dishes into an elegant meal highlighting a cross-section of often underutilized cuts of lamb. Early spring vegetables, edible flowers and perfumed spice complemented the various preparations of meat.

Although individual chefs took the lead on each course, the team worked collectively to refine flavor profiles and plating choices. Unlike many collaborative dinners, no singular credit was given on a dish (though if you are familiar with the chefs’ work, there were hints as to who designed which course).

Maggie Meskey from Salt of the Earth and Michel Mincin from Eleven paired each course with a selection of wines and cocktails.

“It was an amazing night. I’d never had an opportunity to work with Kevin or Derek side-by-side before, so I’m glad it actually happened. It was really fun to hang out with them, work with them, and cook with them,” said Mr. Ehland at the end of the evening.

Course One. Tartare of loin. Smoky long pepper tea, dried apricot, crushed almond. A hint of spring.

Course Two. Heart. Shoots of miner’s lettuce and violet, thin-sliced artichoke, raw porcini, dressed in lemon. Light and refined.

Course Three. Liver Mousse. Ramps, rhubarb, XO vinegar. Deep, sweet earth.

Shot and a Beer. Strawberry-rhubarb shrub paired with Troegs Sunshine Pils. Bright, palate-awakening.

Course Four. Cured breast. Garbanzo beans and spring peas. Crisp corned fattiness.

Course Five. Fried Sweetbreads. Zambitta sausage, strozzapreti pasta, sheep’s milk ricotta. Soulful and satiating.

Course Six. Neck. Puree of nettles, fennel and black garlic. Rich, fatty, intense.

Course Seven. Roasted leg. Morels, porridge of oats and sorrel. Decadence cut with herbaceousness.

Course Eight. Carrot sorbet and mousse. “Fruit loop” crisp. Balanced transition from suppertime to bedtime.

Course Nine. Chocolate. Hominy, farro and buttermilk porridge. Bay leaf. Unexpected savory ending.

Hal B. Klein photos

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.