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Enjoy some BBQ under the stars

Summertime may mean BBQ time but The Culinary Vegetable Institute is upping the ante with the Gourmet BBQ Under the Stars event taking place July 20 in Milan.
John Benson
Jul 15, 2013

Led by Chef Tony Dee, the evening features nine Eddie Merlot’s chefs – Anthony Lusiack, Geoff Kelty, Matthew Nolot, Brian Hopping, Aric Spiczka, Paul Miranda, Dan Tucker, Ray Dial and Matt Strabbing – from around the country providing a leisurely alfresco dining experience beneath the tent at The Culinary Vegetable Institute. The tasting station menus include pork, chicken and salmon, along with side dishes galore featuring the season’s finest vegetables.

All proceeds made from this event will benefit Veggie U. Find out more about Veggie U at their website, www.veggieu.org

There will also be live entertainment provided by a bluegrass band, as well as a live auction.

Want to go? 

WHAT: A Gourmet BBQ Under the Stars  
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. July 20 at the 
WHERE: Culinary Vegetable Institute, 12304 Ohio 13, Milan 
COST: $75 
INFO: call 419-499-7500 or visit culinaryvegetableinstitute.com

Funcoast.com talked to Eddie Merlot Chef Tony Dee about this saucy and tasty affair.

Is this the first time you’ve cooked at The Culinary Vegetable Institute?

I’ve done two dinners previous. They were incredible. The one we did last year was a Halloween dinner. We did a lot of fall theme stuff with Chef’s Garden being the type of place that serves a lot of seasonal stuff.

So that was a scary affair and this upcoming event is a saucy affair.

Yeah, this is going to be a lot of fun. This is the first time we brought all nine Eddie Merlot’s executive chefs. We’re super excited about being there. Overall, there will be 10 chefs from our company and myself cooking and doing all of the stations. It’ll be a really mini food and wine deal. It’s not very often you have an upscale restaurant like ours where you get to have all of the chefs, all the executives in one place at one time at one event.

For those unfamiliar with the Eddie Merlot’s chain, tell us about the restaurants as it relates to A Gourmet BBQ Under the Stars.

It’s hard to translate that with us being a white tablecloth restaurant where you have to get dressed up and come to dinner. You’re dealing with professionally trained chefs and professionally trained people. We’re not just a restaurant where people come randomly. The nice part is we’re becoming more accessible to larger groups of people.

Can you talk about the level of cuisine planned for A Gourmet BBQ Under the Stars?

It’s going to be a very high level. We’re having a friendly internal competition and that always raises the level of what they’re going to execute every time. I’m dealing with proteins. We’re smoking two 200 lbs. hogs and a bunch of chickens and we have some salmon we’re bringing in too. We want to gear it on the protein front to be a little bit more accessible to everybody, and we’re also doing some cool stuff like a root beer BBQ sauce with it and some white stone grits. We’re going to fuse different cultures. We’re really going to play and have a good time. It’ll be nice for people. When you get an opportunity where chefs pretty much have free reign and get to play and have fun, that’s always a great event to go to.

So what you’re saying is even though it’s BBQ food, it’s not necessarily a wet-nap kind of affair?

Not really. We’ll keep this pretty classy. It’s not like a ribfest.