Chef David Erickson Raises Bar on Event Food

Eclectic menu creates tasty addition to Desert Cancer Foundation celebration

Chef David Erickson of Carousel Catering has created a menu to tantalize the taste buds of its Nov. 2 audience.

Lawrence Karol


For those of you who always feel like one night of Halloween revelry is never enough, here’s your chance to extend the festivities, support a worthy cause, and dine on some great food.

The Desert Cancer Foundation will host its Halloween Gift of Life Celebration Nov. 2 at the private Palm Springs estate of Jim Houston, the former owner of CBS Local 2 News.

David Erickson, the executive chef and co-owner of Carousel Catering, has planned an eclectic menu that will erase any lingering doubt that “event” food can’t rise above the ordinary. He previewed the menu to a select audience Oct. 17.

Carousel Catering has kitchens in cities across the country, providing Erickson the opportunity to collaborate with major corporations such as Microsoft and Adobe. He also catered events for Sprint, Pepsi, and others during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Closer to home, he’s cooked for a variety of charity fundraisers and galas hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, and Evening Under the Stars.

For the Gift of Life Celebration, organizers chose a menu with a Southwest theme. As an entreé, Erickson will serve two open-faced chile rellenos (pictured right) —one stuffed with beef short ribs that have been braised with beer and combined with Monterey jack cheese, the other stuffed with brown and wild rice, white cheddar, celery, and onion topped with a ranchero sauce.

“The idea behind the dish is that most chile rellenos are deep fried and we wanted to put a healthy twist on the food we served so we actually steam them,” says Erickson.

Before guests arrive at their tables, they will enjoy an array of hors d'oeuvres: a parmesan and shallot soufflé; Roma tomato and mozzarella crostini with basil pesto; shredded pork quesadilla accented with a dollop of guacamole; and cranberry chicken salad atop raisin walnut bread.

“In my opinion hors d'oeuvres are something that’s a little taste of everything,” says Erickson. “And these kind of hit everyone’s palate. If you’re a vegetarian, the tomato is perfect, if you don’t eat beef or pork, the chicken works very well. The onion soufflé is vegetarian and everybody loves it—we put it on almost every menu. And the pork is just one of my favorites, and also goes with the Southwest theme.”

Rounding out the menu are an orange and jicama salad in a creamy citrus vinaigrette  and, for dessert, a lemon bar tower with vanilla bean sauce and fresh berries.

So at this Halloween bash, there will be plenty of treats and absolutely no tricks.

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