Great Chefs of Los Angeles
CBS Studio Center4024 Radford Dr.
Studio City, CA 91604
November 9, 2009
Last weekend, on a blindingly sunny early November Sunday, CBS studios hosted the 2009 Great Chefs of Los Angeles to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. George and Ann Lopez were honorary chair people lending their humor to the event and their visages to the red carpet. Chefs included Govind Armstrong of 8 Oz. Burger Bar on Melrose and Table 8 in NYC and Miami, Neal Fraser of Grace, Josie Balch of Josie in Santa Monica, Celestino Drago of Drago Ristorante, Enoteca Drago, and Drago Centro, my personal favorite Adam Horton of Saddle Peak Lodge who recognized me from commentary on KevinEats blog review of SPL *yay*, and many many more. So many more, and so many many chefs serving autumnally appropriate red meat under the hot Indian summer sun.
Not a member of the invited media for this event, Mr. FST and I both received one of these generous goody bags stuffed with fun and useful items, including one seductive pomegranate.
The POM company had quite a presence at the event, from the cartload of fruit to their own table with juice samples and something even more irresistible. More about that later.
The very first table I hit was Saddle Peak Lodge manned by the aforementioned Adam Horton. I shook his hand but I kinda wanted to lick it.
A simple bite of grilled antelope with cabbage, bacon, apple and black garlic on a crouton round. Delicious, appropriately sized, easy to eat.
We were both charmed by the people and product at the Sushi Poppers table. A new product that will hopefully be working its way across our radars. I chose a hamachi (3 pieces sized for the event, I assume they will sell a 6-8 piece roll) which was simple made with no dairy or mayo (a shame to have to qualify this) and very fresh. They plan to sell these at convenient stores such as Famimas, 7-11s, and the airport. This kicks ass on the greasy Caesar salad served at the sports bar in the Southwest terminal at the Bob Hope airport.
The POM Wonderful table.
Mr. FST went gaga for these POM/chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate cake with POM infused chocolate ganache icing.
I have not yet had the opportunity to hit up Akasha, so it was not high on my list of spots to visit. However, D was starving, so started off at a frantic pace. He came running back to me demanding that I try Akasha's Niman Ranch Short Rib on a pretzel roll.
Akasha FTW at the event, I think. Short ribs, check. Pretzel bread, check. horseradish slaw, omg, check. Pickles, check. D and I will be visiting Akasha sometime this season for sure.
Frank Family represents with three kinds of red. I was taking it easy on the boozing after a crazy Saturday night. But Frank Family makes some beautiful wines.
Loteria! Grill showed up with two quesedillas. Corn truffle.
And zucchini flower, which was nice but the zucchini flavor was subtle in the one I tasted.
I definitely have a white girl's schema when it comes to a quesedilla, because these look like empanadas. I am certainly no expert, really in any kind of cuisine. They were beautiful and tasted good.
Neil Fraser of Grace jumped into the red meat fray with these bites of veal and polenta.
I don't ever remember having had veal shortribs, they were certainly satisfyingly fatty and the polenta had the right amount of earthy grit. The food at Grace always makes me happy.
Thank you, SmartWater, for soothing my hangover and keeping me hydrated during the relatively warm day.
SmartWater stations abounded throughout the food marathon. Speaking of marathons, Neil of FoodMarathon.com tweeted that he was on his way but I saw neither hide nor hair of him.
Brian Moyers cooking for BLT Steak offered the following:
Red meat with a squash puree, I thought it was pumpkin but I could be diremembering.
This is one of the smarter tasting events I have been to. There was a proper amount of seating for weary eaters, tables scattered throughout our pathways to pause and savor a bite. And several bars, wine stations and alcohol-free beverage offerings. Classy, thoughtful.
Ice cold fruity beverages were being concocted above at this bar in the shade, they were really tempting in the heat.
Govind Armstrong was the guest chef of the afternoon. Pace Webb of GreenGirls.com interviews Govind about the event and the challenges of cooking sustainably and organically here.
Govind offered us beef.
A beautiful panini-esue short bib grilled Bel Paese cheese with truffled heirloom potato chips.
Starting to get full, I could not resist the generosity of Andrea Cavaliere from Cecconi's in West Hollywood..
A simple truffled risotto, with plentiful truffle shavings on top.
I considered nicking the truffle jar, but it wouldn't fit in my purse.
Dakota Chop House and Jason Johnston.
Offered a short rib slider with kale and caramelized onion.
This was a really large bite. More than I could chew, at this point in the day. It looked lovely, I hope what they are offering these days in their restaurant is of equal or superior quality.
Josie Balch of Josie in Santa Monica shared with us a quiche.
If I was puzzled by the uniformly red meat approach of the day, I was even moreso by the quiche. When I think of Josie, I think game & local produce. I like quiche, Quiche reminds me of mom and baby showers.
Fuego in Long Beach offered the only lamb I spied.
I got the opportunity to chat with Jesse Perez, but apparently his lamb en mole (28 ingredients) was so delicious, I didn't take the opportunity to shoot it. It was really wonderful.
Although I found the idea of beer kind of off putting, Fireman's Brew was there along brewery row to share three concoctions.
Sterling Vineyards squeezed in among the beer to share their organic wines with us, I sipped at a Sauvignon Blanc and it was lovely. I would defnitely buy this for keeping at home and drinking while cooking.
A little glass of cold white wine started to set my head on straight.
Melissa's, one organic option you see as a strong presence at Gelson's and Mayfair. I buy their products sometimes, but marvel at the amount of packaging used. Paradoxical somewhat, I suppose. But who am I to complain about paradoxes when grocery shopping at Gelson's nearly defeats the purpose of buying items to prepare food at home. The purpose of saving money at any rate.
The above strawberry cupcakes come from the cutest table in the entire event, Leyna's Kitchen. These cupcakes were strawberry cake with strawberry buttercream frosting and strawberry puree filling. I know, D took the bullet and ate one for me. They won Public Choice for Most Original at the Los Angeles 2008 Cupcake Challenge.
I should have snapped some shots of the beautiful girls in their matching hair ribbons...
Minx is located in Glendale, and despite the fact that their table was all the way at the back of the event, they threw down three different options for hungry people.
Pork Belly Sliders with Bacon.
Vegetarian Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Tarts with Kabocha Squash,
Spicy Ahi Tuna Tacos in Wanton shells.
Izze was pushing fruit drink shots and lip balm. My lips thanked you.
Paco & Lola were also on hand with their Albarino, one of my favorite varietals. It was refreshingly delicious, and I love the packaging.
I dared to ask the chef at Moonshadows if they were serving a Virgin Octopus Bloody Mary. He was not amused.
D said this was wonderful. Octopus, tomato, pickled onion and I thought there was olive on the skewer as well.
Jorge Gomez was front and center at La Grande Orange. We chatted about my love of his green chili burger.
Jorge fed us the simple, the classic, the devilled egg.
And a wonderful Brussel sprout sald with manchego, almonds and a vinaigrette. LOVED.
Kevin Alan Lee (Lutece, Vegas) from the new East on Hollywood Blvd was around, somewhere. I kinda wanted to chat, but the guy working the station was torn between being helpful and something else.
We stopped into East for a late night cocktail the first weekend they were open, and the interior is indeed beautiful in that restaurant-come-nightclub kind of way. The cocktail list was tempting, the manager was very friendly and helpful, but the food served by East at Great Chefs definitely made me hanker for a visit.
Hawaaian Waia with a Miso Mustard Cream. Fantastic, and kept pleasingly chilled.
This might have been the best bite of the entire day. Raw scallops on the half shell with Sambal and Wasabi Creme Fraiche. The accompaniments to the scallop were kept minimal allowing the freshness of the shellfish to burst forward in your mouth, this was divine. I hope it's replicated at the restaurant.
Michael Mina's XIV. The qualifier that now pops up under XIV during a Google is, "a lively lounge with casual dining". What a difference a year makes. When I dined there for my anniversary, a few months after they first opened in 2008, it was dressy opulent luxe with fur throws and couches cozied up to fireplaces.
Clearly, someone planned for a warm afternoon.
The Vichysoisse was nice, but nothing to write home about.
Jose Andres' The Bazaar.
Mixing the delicious and potent nitro-caipirinha.
Instead of the caviar cones served in the restaurant from the carts menu, they were handing out guacamole cones. Perfect for the beautiful afternoon. All the elements of guacamole, with Andres' special way of using only the heart of the tomato, a little avocado and other minced veg in the bottom of the cone. Charming.
Sweets from the Patisserie.
We didn't indulge, but gosh it was a pretty display. It remained unmolested, so I am assuming that people were either full or didn't want to spoil the visual.
A bounty of beautiful 'shrooms...
and a zuppa di funghi.
From Giacomino Drago at Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills.
Celestino Drago offered a nice little duck sandwich that was lovely, with a fall squash soup.
It looks bigger than it was, it was perfectly bite sized and yummy.
I skipped the madness at the Border Grill truck on the way in, and on the way out it was my last thin mint.
Mary's baby tacos were too interesting looking to pass up.
Mustard seed encrusted avocado tacos on corn tortillas. Still rich, but a luscious break from all the meat. Reminding me why we as a city love Milliken and Feniger's food.
On the way out I felt like taking attendance based on whose jacket was left on the rack. It's the teacher in me.