I was truly honored to be asked to be a part of the Visiting Chefs Program at the Willing Warriors Retreat Center last weekend. A veteran and his family were staying at the center awaiting medical treatment the following day.
With the family's food survey completed, I created a menu which would incorporate as many requests from them as I could. They did not request Thai, but, of course, from me they were going to get Thai. I started their dinner off with a healing butterfly pea iced tea and cumin spiced nuts.
Fortunately, the family likes Mexican food, so I took that inspiration to design the first course of Thai herbal ceviche and Thai guacamole with fried wontons for dipping.
Another thing the family said they liked was Chinese food. I made them Chinese inspired fresh spring rolls with Thai basil and mint. Two delicious dipping sauces: Chili Lime (spicy) and Peanut (sweet).
The veteran requested "not spicy" and also that he would like to try some sort of game bird. With this in mind, I switched up my usual Red Curry Duck to a sweeter, less spicy, Massaman Curry Duck served with jasmine rice. Thanks for the inspiration, Jose...I think it worked!
Finally, a cooling dessert of ginger ice cream with fresh mangos, pineapple, roti, coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves, rounded out the evening.
It was a wonderfully rewarding night with a super family and great help from Chef Larry Zilliox, Director of Culinary Services at the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run (thanks for the photos!), my constant right hand man, Jackson Adams and the fabulous and always helpful, Fayed Troy. Thanks for volunteering, guys! What a great way to spend a Sunday evening.
If anyone is interested in volunteering or donating to an amazing center, please consider the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run. It's a great facility that brings families of veterans together to reconnect after illness or long periods away. There are tons of ways to help out over there.