My Favorite Dish at Chicago's First Bites Bash


[Photograph: Joe Roy]

I don't know how they do it on Top Chef: serving a good, representative bite to hundreds of guests is a challenge, to put it lightly. The dividing line that separates good from great event food is bogged down by desires for warmer buns, crisper crostini, and duck confit/goat shoulder/short ribs that have been held for less time. The best laid plans of event caterers often go awry when room temperature realities set in, and after a few plates at the First Bites Bash, I was already over tasting everything hypothetically.

Which is what made the Ceviche Mixto from El Barco Mariscos such a revelation. The lightly pickled white fish, shrimp, and octopus jumble was meant to be served cool, and since a two person team was constantly plating it fresh on half tostada shells, sogginess was never an issue. All this translated into a well balanced bite presented on Barco Marisco's terms: one that I could sit back and enjoy without trying to account for the crowd factor. And enjoy it I did—three times throughout the night, if I'm being completely honest.

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