Recap of the Wichita By E.B. Dinner Series at Sedgwick County Zoo in collaboration with Hank Is Wiser Brewery

Wichita By E.B. Dinner Series at Sedgwick County Zoo

Hank Is Wiser Brewery Sedgwick County Zoo

Part five of the fifth-straight sold out Wichita By E.B. Dinner Series is in the books! The latest chapter of the event took place at Sedgwick County Zoo.

For those unfamiliar with the dinner series, it’s a private event for diners and local foodies to get together for an intimate evening of food. The goal of the series was to introduce people around town to a place they perhaps have never been to and allow chefs to flex their creative muscles. These dinners typically take place on a night when the restaurant is closed. Diners get the place to themselves, but have no say in what is served. The chefs work their magic and we eat whatever is placed in front of our eyes. It’s eating with an open mind.

Part five was completely unique as it didn’t really take place at a restaurant but at our city’s zoo. For those that don’t know, the executive chef at the zoo is Elyse Sanford. She’s an incredible chef who has done some pretty cool things at the zoo, along with handling many of the catered events there. I wanted to give her a chance to do something different, give her a blank canvas and let her do her thing. On top of that, her husband is Steve Sanford, owner of Hank Is Wiser Brewery in Cheney, KS.

Knowing this, I thought it’d be really cool to have our dinner series first-ever husband/wife collab featuring two different entities. They agreed and it was a beautiful thing as the timing was right around their wedding anniversary.

Here’s a brief overview for those who missed out.


Wichita By E.B. Dinner Series at Sedgwick County Zoo

The event began with a cocktail hour when most of the attendees flocked to the station where Hank Is Wiser Brewery beer was being served. Four beers were served: Spicy Dilly Dilly, Strawberry Rhubarb Limeade Radler, Boysenberry Shandy, and Sanford Stout. No lie, I probably had ten glasses of the Spicy Dilly Dilly. Being a fan of pickles, this was extremely addictive.

After everyone arrived, it was time to eat.

The night began with a Bruschetta Sampler. Here’s what each entailed:

  • Prosciutto, fig, mascarpone, and pepitas
  • Mozzarella, ricotta, tomato, basil, pesto, balsamic pearls
  • Beef tenderloin, horseradish cream, baby arugula, pickled mustard seeds

Next up, it was a salad with kale, arugula, beets, butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, honey lemon vinaigrette, and shaved Parmesan.

Course three was probably the surprise of the night that took everybody’s taste buds by storm. It was a charcoal roll with black garlic butter.

For the main entrée (and everybody’s favorite dish of the night), it was Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, rainbow carrots, and crispy Brussels sprouts.

Rounding out the night was a butter cake with lemon, blackberry, whiskey, and mint.


The feedback from everyone was wonderful. I had a happy plate with every course. It was the small touches in each dish that stood out for me, such as the butternut squash in the salad or the crispy Brussels sprouts in the main entrée or the garlic butter with the bread. The minor details really elevated everything. Chef Sanford had a platform to show what she could do and nailed it on all accounts.

BUT it didn’t end there. Just when everyone thought the dinner was over, the Sanfords brought out Samuel Adams Utopia 2013 to share with the dinner party. It was also what they had on their wedding day.

Leading into the dinner, I was not all there mentally, exhausted and wasn’t feeling it. Some of that was just overworking myself. My energy levels were low, but by the end of the dinner, I was totally rejuvenated. It was great to converse with readers, share drinks with everyone, and just be around people who have the same passions as me. This was exactly what I needed for my soul and I thank everyone for being there, the team at Sedgwick County Zoo and the Sanfords.

Be on the lookout for news of part 6 of the series in the coming weeks.

Happy Dining,
Eddy


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