Chef Dai’Quon Watts of Strang Chef Collective hosts five-course cinematic-themed Valentine’s Day dinner
Strang Chef Collective’s newest chef, Dai’Quon Watts, has conceptualized a five-course Valentine’s Day dinner themed around iconic couples from film and television. The event will take place Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 6-9 p.m. at Strang Chef Collective’s new location, Strang Reserve, a luxury event space located at 8020 Marty Street, Overland Park, KS.
Each course offers playful dishes inspired by some of the chef’s favorite TV and film couples—though Chef Watts’ inspirations are not the conventional romantic pairings you might expect.
“I’m not big on tradition. I think tradition is just peer pressure from the dead,” says Watts. “I wanted this Valentine’s dinner to be something completely different. So, I thought, how do I translate these TV shows and movies I enjoy watching into dishes?”
The first course is a salad inspired by one of America’s most iconic cartoon couples, Fred and Wilma Flintstone. The salad features crispy smoked farrow, pomegranate, blueberry gastrique, baby bok choy, rocket lettuce, and gin-lavender goat cheese foam.
Watts explains his concept behind the first course: “Fred and Wilma are out on a date, and Wilma is trying to get Fred to eat healthy because he can’t always eat a brontosaurus burger like he wants. The smoked farrow is like a replacement for meat you’d have on a salad.”
The second course is inspired by a couple who are certainly non-traditional: serial killer Hannibal Lecter and criminal profile Will Graham from television’s Hannibal. This course includes confit and beef tartare, pickled mustard seeds, hatch chile dijon, cured egg yolk, cornichons, and chicharrones.
“The beef tartare is supposed to invoke elegance because Hannibal has a bougie aura, but it’s bastardized with the chicharrones, because Hannibal would hate it,” Watts says.
The third course is a concept based on America’s sweethearts, Gomez and Morticia Addams. The dish features purple potato-crusted cod, mole negro, curly onion salad, toasted sesame, and pickled radish.
“I went with the mole because it’s complex and rich,” says Watts. “The Addams Family makes fun of traditional couples.”
For the fourth course, diners will enjoy coffee-crusted steak, red wine-onion jam, cauliflower potato puree, and smoked popcorn, inspired by the power-hungry lovebirds Olivia and Fitz from television’s Scandal.
“Not all love stories are cookie-cutter and filled with rainbows,” says Watts of the fifth course’s inspiration. In the show, Olivia loves popcorn and red wine, so Watts wanted those elements to be a focus of the fourth course.
Finally, for dessert, Chef Watts will serve apple pie cheesecake with bourbon caramel, pâte brisée, walnuts, and spiked apples—a dish inspired by the awkward and loveable Jim and Michelle of the American Pie film franchise.
“It’s kind of strange, but just weird enough that it works somehow,” Watts says of the fictional couple and the dessert he created based on their atypical love story.
Judging from the unique pop-cultured inspired dishes Chef Dai’Quon Watts is serving up at Strang Reserve this Valentine’s Day, he is a chef who does not let preconceived rules or traditions limit his creativity in the kitchen.
Tickets for the dinner can be reserved online for $100 per person; tables for up to 8 people are available. The five-course meal can also include a two-course wine pairing for an extra $25 per person.