BOSTON Backyard barbecues are commonplace in the summertime, but when 40 chefs gather for a charitable cookout, the menu extends beyond burgers and hot dogs. Such was the case at Chefs in Shorts, a benefit for the Greater Boston Food Bank held at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center on June 24. The walk-around tasting, billed by its organizers as a “summer-in-the-city barbecue,” let guests sample everything from mini lamb B.L.T.s on rosemary biscuits to grilled scallops with spicy watermelon sauce.
“The chefs have always embraced Chefs in Shorts, and continue to become more innovative in the dishes they create and how they present them to the guests,” said Lauri Howe Barrett, director of communications at Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. Karen Hodson of the Seaport Pastry, for example, used Chinese takeout containers to serve mini orange empanadas and rum-glazed pineapple with a shot of rum served on the side—in a syringe.
Now in its 14th year, “the event has become more popular by the year, with a large percentage of return guests,” Howe Barrett said. This year's 1,000-guest crowd was slightly larger than last year's, she said. But apart from the increase in attendance, “there wasn't anything new or different this year.”
Sticking with tradition helped provide a relatively painless planning process. “There weren't too many logistical challenges,” said Howe Barrett. “We always want to ensure that the setup allows for a good crowd flow, as we have so many participating chefs. And we do have to keep an eye on the weather.”
Though cloudy skies rolled in on the night of the event, rain ultimately held off. To accommodate flow, chefs presented plates that were small enough for guests to eat while standing; for those who wanted to sit, separate areas—a safe distance from the hot grills and busy chefs—held high-top and cocktail tables.