Even though we were headed to Aspen  before the crack of dawn this morning, last night we passed up packing in favor of the Star Chefs Rising Stars Revue , a traveling event that recognizes some of the most avant-garde culinary professionals in various cities like New York, Chicago, Seattle, and our home base of San Francisco. Over a jaw-dropping view of the bay, we enjoyed vittles from various chefs, some of whom were just beginning to realize their own potential. To get a peek at what cutting-edge creations were served, keep reading.
VIP hour took place on a sun-filled balcony in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square .
The first dish I tried was from Josh Thomsen  of The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa , who won hotel chef of the year. It was a delightful goat cheese-potato terrine with slow-roasted baby beets and aged balsamic syrup. I made two returns for more!
Host chef Martin Brock from Gary Danko  highlighted cured New Zealand Salmon with jicama, lotus root chips, and curry remoulade.
Over canapés and sparkling wine, guests enjoyed sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay.
I felt bad for the Flour + Water team, who got chosen to make ravioli, which had to be boiled on the premises. The fresh pasta, however, was a sight to be seen.
Flour + Water 's Thomas McNaughton made his famous ravioli doppio of pork and pea.
Mixologist Erick Castro of Rickhouse  was the talk of the night with his "Lusty Maritime Punch," featuring Highland Park Single Malt Scotch and Yellow Chartreuse.
Joshua Skenes of Saison , who won for restaurant concept, made a dish of little roots braised with bonito, caramelized shoots, flowers, and leaves. While it was delicious, it seemed a little too simple in comparison to the others.
SPQR 's Matthew Accarrino made a dish of bone marrow, sformatino, smoked bacon, and onions.
Shelley  Lindgren of A16  and SPQR won the restaurateur award. She offered guests roasted sardines and minted pea bruschetta with pickled onions.
Pastry chef Catherine Schimenti of Michael Mina  made an apricot mousse, cherries, and lemon verbena.
Aziza  chef Louis Maldonado served a textural take on tartare with marinated striped bass, petrossian caviar, green strawberries, and crispy brown rice.
Manresa 's John Paul Carmona chose a combination of boudin blanc, dates, and wild watercress.
How can one go wrong with crispy pork belly with bacon-braised red lentils, spinach, soft-poached egg, and chives? You can't. Just ask Maximilian DiMare of Wood Tavern .
My favorite dish of the night, hands down, was Chez TJ 's. Chef Scott Nishiyama served up house-made mustard toast with blackberry and cashew, blanketed in moulard duck foie gras.