Celebrating Saffron with Rumi Spice at Chicago's The Blanchard

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Last Thursday I had the absolute pleasure of hosting an intimate dinner at The Blanchard celebrating my friends and fellow West Point graduates and U.S. Army veterans from Rumi Spice. We started the evening with a welcome champagne and a scallop crudo amuse-bouche. Afterwards, making our way to the dining room to enjoy five incredible courses by Executive Chef Ryan Burns all featuring Rumi’s Afghan Saffron.

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Rumi Spice has an impressive story with an even more remarkable mission. Rumi co-founder and fellow former U.S. Army officer Kim Jung, while deployed to Afghanistan, shared an unforgettable meal with a group of Afghan women. Around that table, where food brought a community so closely together, the spirit of Rumi Spice took form. After leaving the military and graduating from Harvard Business School, Kim and co-founders Keith and Emily launched Rumi from its present location on the Southside of Chicago.

Rumi Spice empowers Afghan women, currently employing more than 300 women in Herat Province. This Certified B Corporation helps bolster the country’s economy by partnering with Afghan farmers to bring the highest quality, sustainably farmed saffron to customers around the world. They supply some of the world's finest saffron to global dining destinations including The French Laundry, Daniel, Bouley, and Le Bernardin, and Chicago's NAHA, Acadia and The Blanchard.

 Chille Beausoleil Oyster | Saffron Infused Melon Granité, Ham, Celery, Fingerlime

Chille Beausoleil Oyster | Saffron Infused Melon Granité, Ham, Celery, Fingerlime

 Spanish Octopus | Edwards Ham Consommé, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Clams, Kohlrabi

Spanish Octopus | Edwards Ham Consommé, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Clams, Kohlrabi

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On this particular late August evening, we had the pleasure of enjoying Rumi Spice's Afghan saffron highlighted in a pleasantly diverse and expertly executed contemporary French menu from The Blanchard's Chef Burns and company. The evening was made all the more lively by comical banter with David Manilow of Check, Please!, tips for using saffron in your home cooking from Chef Carrie Nahabedian of Chicago's beloved NAHA, and fellow food bloggers sharing past encounters with saffron.

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 Plating Chicken, Crab and Uni | Truffle, Uni Sabayon, Squash Blossom

Plating Chicken, Crab and Uni | Truffle, Uni Sabayon, Squash Blossom

 Corn and Salmon Roe | Corn Crepes, Corn Pudding Cooked in Husk

Corn and Salmon Roe | Corn Crepes, Corn Pudding Cooked in Husk

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 Cognac Cappuccino | Forbidden Rice Crispy, Elderflower, Cucumber, Ginger

Cognac Cappuccino | Forbidden Rice Crispy, Elderflower, Cucumber, Ginger

I am incredibly proud of Rumi Spice's work thus far and excited to see them continue their powerful mission in Afghanistan. If you haven't caught the episode yet, watch for Rumi on Shark Tank (spoiler: they land a deal with Mark Cuban). Additionally, use the link below to order your own “red gold” Rumi saffron, saffron spice blends, and saffron gummies.