Photos of Jordan Quidachay's Guam-inspired dinner and a Q & A with the chef.
Helper Will Lloyd sets the flatwear an hour before guests arrive.
Bartender Kevin Deming grabs a bottle of rum to make the first of the evening's six concoctions.
Sous chef Robb Meier transfers soft-boiled quail eggs into an ice bath while Jordan Quidachay checks the rice. "Soft-boiled eggs," Meier says, "why did it have to be soft-boiled eggs."
Peeling soft-boiled quail eggs for an amuse-bouche based on Spam musubi, a favorite "gas station" snack among Guam locals.
Old Major bartender Kevin "Bacon" Deming's take on rum punch: Plantation five-year rum, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, mango, pineapple syrup, and citrus. "It's very classic and easily batched," Deming says.
Renge spoons of rice topped with Spam and a soft-boiled quail egg are finished with a sprinkle of furikake.
Drink umbrellas hint at the festive nature of the feast.
The second course of the evening—grilled shrimp garnished with with coconut jam, citrus gel, and smoked chili powder—was a deconstructed take on ceviche, with a twist. "With the smoked chili powder, I added Pop Rocks," Quidachay says. "Paul told me there was an option for blindfolding the diners, so I thought it might be perfect."
22-year-old chef Jordan Quidachay addresses the diners after the second course.
A refreshing cucumber-radish salad cleansed the palate before the heavier fourth and fifth courses.
"Chorizo is another big thing on the island," Quidachay says. Here, he garnishes seared bass with slices of Spanish Palacios chorizo.
Pan-seared bass before the addition of chorizo, and a bowl of tomato brodo. "A lot of times, we eat fish with a sauce of vinegar and onions and that’s it," Quidachay says of the Chamorro people. "So I wanted to bring all that into this dish—fish, tomatoes, and a little bit of vinegar."
Sous chef Robb Meier separates a rack of baby back ribs for the main course dubbed "the Big Isle."
For "the Big Isle" course, two ribs coated in pork demi-glace sit on a foundation of red rice. The recipe was inspired by Quidachay's father. "He wants to open a little barbecue joint out here."
Quidachay stirs coconut pudding before spooning it beside wedges of banana cake, a take on the Chamorro dish latiya. "After you have one or two rounds of savory dishes at a Chamorro fiesta, you go to straight to the dessert table."
A note left behind by a diner. Organizer Paul Laurie encourages the scribbles by handing out Sharpies and covering the table in butcher paper.
If you haven’t heard of it or been lucky enough to attend, Silver Spork Social is an underground supper club catered by some of the areas most promising culinary minds. The concept is the brainchild of Paul Laurie, founder of travel company Walking Tree Travel, whose creative panache is felt from the musical chairs portion of the evening to the Sharpies that encourage guests to scrawl musings on the butcher paper stretched across the 30-ish person table.
On Friday, Black Eye Coffee's Jordan Quidachay filled the role of chef de cuisine for the eighth installment of the event. Quidachay's six-course spread displayed his interest in modern cooking techniques as well as his Chamorro background. At 19 years old, the Guam native moved to Denver with the aim of realizing his culinary aspirations. Now three years later, he's worked as a line cook at the Denver branch of the Kitchen, Masterpiece Deli, and Old Major, which he cites as a major influence. "I cooked with those guys for two and a half years," Quidachay says of Old Major staffers like Galen Kennemer. "A lot of them are mentors to me."
In fact, Old Major bartender Kevin Deming joined Quidachay and paired six tropical drinks to quaff with the island offerings. In the kitchen, former Old Major chef Robb Meier acted as sous chef.
Read on as Quidachay talks about his background, and how his Silver Spork Social meal came together.
Where did you go to culinary school?
I went to Johnson & Wales in Denver, but ended up two points shy of graduating. I was working on my associates culinary arts degree, and ended up failing my English class—my favorite class—by two points.
You grew up in Guam. What are the island’s culinary influences?
Rice is a staple starch. It's an island, so there's a lot of fish. And coconuts are a big thing. The island was colonized by Spain in the 1800s, so there's a lot of Spanish influence through religion, language, food, and culture. Then World War II came around, and Japanese [culture came with it].
How did you hear about Silver Spork Social?
I heard about it through [Old Major's] Kevin Deming. He did one with a buddy he used to work with. I told him I was interested, and when this one came around and he told Paul I was into it, and Paul asked me.
Was there any one dish you were particularly nervous about preparing at Silver Spork Social?
The red rice and barbecue ribs. That's like the staple dish of Guam, and I was afraid I wasn't going to do the dish justice. There’s something about cooking food from back home—I could work in a three-hundred seat restaurant and sling food all night long, or grind at Old Major, but something as simple as that, I freak out. It’s incredibly personal. It means a lot to me [representing] the Chamorro culture.
Jordan Quidachay's Chamorro Ribs
Total time: 1/2 hour (prep) + 12 hours (marinating) + 3 1/2 hours (cooking) = 16 hours all day.
2 racks baby back ribs
2 cups soy sauce
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups hoisin sauce
1 cup oyster sauce
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch brown sugar
1 cup rice (optional)
2 cups water (optional)
For the marinade: Combine soy sauce and white distilled vinegar with a pinch of garlic powder.
For the glaze: Combine hoisin sauce with oyster sauce with a pinch of brown sugar.
Place ribs in a pan deep enough to be fully submerged and cover with marinade. Marinate ribs in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. When you're ready to cook, line the bottom of an oven with aluminum foil and preheat to 325°. Once heated, place the ribs directly on the oven rack and cook for three-and-a-half hours, applying first coat of glaze 30 minutes in and additional coats every 30 minutes thereafter. Heat remaining glaze in a small crock to a simmer. If desired, cook rice in water and set aside. Remove ribs and separate each from the rack using a sturdy knife. Spoon simmering glaze on top of ribs. Serve with rice and cold beer.
Kevin Deming's Coco de Agua
2 ounces white rum
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 1/2 ounces coconut water
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Combine rum, lime juice, coconut water, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake until mixed thoroughly, and pour into a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.