Tag Archives: Top Chef
Back in January I was honored to host a wonderful Wild Game dinner by Chris Crary, the Chef de Cusine at Whist Restaurant in Santa Monica. Recently, I returned to taste (gratis) the current menu offered by Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo (Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern).
Like most of my friends (and family), I’m a big fan of small bites and sharing plates … ESPECIALLY in such a beautiful, relaxing (yet elegant) location.
My brother Greg (who recently moved here from Scotland) joined me for the incredible dinner and we so enjoyed spending some quality brother/sister time together. Needless to say, there was plenty of eye-rolling (it was so good!) and laughing at our table. Just sitting in the beautiful, outdoor dining room… we both appreciated every bit (and bite) of the Whist experience.
NOTE: A new menu will be available after July 9th (some new items have already been added), so go SOON to taste dishes below!
Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining Date: 6/19/12
Many thanks to Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary!
Many thanks to all who came out to Whist Restaurant for Chef De Cuisine Chris Crary‘s special “Wild Game” dinner last week. It was a super fun gathering of carnivore loving pals (sorry vegans!), local chefs (who came to support) and of course Top Chef fans!
Each of his dishes were beautiful, delicious works of art, and I had a hard time deciding on my favorite game meat of the night. Congrats to Chris and his team, for executing the awesome menu.
Location: Whist Restaurant
1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
Reservations> (310) 260-7511
Price was $60 per person
Event Date: January 5th
All photos from the Wild Game Dinner on Flickr
Follow @ChrisCrary on twitter
Follow @WhistChefs on twitter
Follow @ViceroySM on twitter
BEST SANDWICHES IN TOWN (ok, so these are my favorite sandwiches in town)…
Michael Voltaggio’s ink sack:
cold fried chicken house-made ranch cheese, gindo’s spice of life
the Jose Andres aka “the spanish godfather” serrano, chorizo, lomo, manchego
Water melon sriracha, lime & pineapple chile y lemon. Great as a side… or take home for cocktails later!
8360 melrose avenue #107
los angeles, california 90069
PHOTOS: My first bite of Black Market Liquor Bar in Studio City
Red Hot and Bothered: Jalapeno-infused vodka, strawberry, blood orange, agave syrup and ginger beer
Peter and I went early in the evening and we both enjoyed Chef Antonia Lofaso’s menu. Thankfully the new hotspot is just around the corner from our house!
Black Market Liquor Bar
11915 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Dining Date: 7/9/11
Read all about Black Market on LAist (by my friend Lindsay William-Ross)
Bravo’s Top Chef is my very favorite cooking show, and is (in my humble opinion) the BEST chef competition on television. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to get to know a few of the “cheftestants” (links below) and most recently befriended the wonderfully CHARMING Chef Fabio Viviani via twitter.
Firenze Osteria is one of his two Southern California restaurants and is just five minutes away from my house. I’ve had so much fun getting to know Fabio during this current All-Stars season, and can’t wait to see what he’s doing next. I’m personally hoping for some sort of Italian Fusion Burger Bar (Top Chef fans will understand!).
A few of my favorite dishes at Firenze Osteria:
Desserts! Panna Cotta: Baked Egg-Less Cream with Fresh Strawberries in a Sweet Balsamic Reduction | Limoncello Ricotta Cheesecake: Creamy Ricotta Cheese and Limoncello with a light Graham Cracker Crust | Flourless Chocolate Cake: Warm, Moist Individual Cake, Served with Vanilla Gelato, Chocolate Sauce and Coffee Cream
4212 Lankershim Blvd
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
All my Firenze Osteria photos on Flickr
Dishes above shared with: Peter S, Brent V, Nelson C, Dave D, Lisa D, Susan S, Andrew L, Bob M, Paddy C.
Thank you Fabio, Jacopo, Lisa, Ken, Woodrow & Guido!
Top Chef Fabio Viviani (season five & six)
If you’re not familiar with Fabio, check out one of his hilarious video clips (he films himself while watching Top Chef & Tweeting)
More Top Chef Photos:
With Chef Michael Voltaggio
Sure wish I lived closer to the Yard in Santa Monica. I’m certain the gastropub would be my regular hangout, plus my good friend Ryan (he’s an awesome food photographer) is there practically every night!
A few of my tasty photos:
Dining date: 10/23/10
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Last week I attended a private cooking demonstration at Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills. Chef Michael Voltaggio and his awesome crew were on hand to whip up some delicious bites using modern cooking equipment, including a few devices I’ve only dreamt about having in my own kitchen.
Back in March 2009, during yet another exquisite meal at the Bazaar, Michael motioned me back to the open kitchen so I could watch him plate a new menu dish. On the counter sat a heavy slate plate with salmon (& cucumber “noodles”) under a clear glass dome. As I eagerly watched, Michael grabbed what looked like a laser price scanner and lifted the dome just a bit, then slipped in a small tube which filled the dome with smoke.
Back at my table, the server lifted the dome and a gentle puff of smoke wafted under the lights. The flavors in the salmon were fantastic (yet subtle), especially since the fish was smoked just minutes before being served. That was my first experience with the handheld food smoker aka the “Smoking Gun”, which is made by PolyScience Innovative Culinary Technology.
At the Williams-Sonoma demo, Michael and his team touted the Smoking Gun as well as PolyScience’s Sous Vide Thermal Circulator. I didn’t see the Anti-Griddle (which quickly freezes items) on hand, but was thrilled to see that the Smoking Gun was for sale! After a few glasses of bubbly, Peter gladly bought me one… as well as the additional set of flavored wood chips. My niece and nephew had a BLAST smoking our entire dinner last week, and we were surprised how easy and well the gun worked.
Voltaggio and crew at Williams-Sonoma
The Smoking Gun!
339 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Williams-Sonoma Event Date: Wed, 9/1/10
Molecular Gastronomy has been all over the news lately, mostly due to Ferran Adria announcing that he would temporarily be closing his El Bulli restaurant in Roses, Spain. Twitter messaging went into overdrive when a false rumor emerged, quoting that Adria would close the world’s “best restaurant” permanently. But then Time magazine wrote that after a two-year hiatus (2012–2014), “El Bulli will change from a restaurant to a nonprofit foundation, operating as a think tank where talented young chefs will explore new directions in gastronomy.”
Like most food lovers, I never had the pleasure of dining at El Bulli, but every year I’d send in my request and every year I’d receive the dreaded rejection email as well. I’ve even gone as far as “faux booking” an entire trip, hoping to manifest a reservation into my lap, but some things are just not meant to be.
It hasn’t really bothered me though, because since the Bazaar restaurant opened in 2008, I’ve been lucky enough to eat everything “molecular” on the menu created by Adria’s protégé, the affable and equally talented José Andrés. My first bites, on Bazaar’s opening day, were “Olives Ferran Adrià”, the very same dish I had dreamt about trying at El Bulli.
During 20 (or so) visits to the Bazaar, I got to know a few of the chefs working in the open kitchen. This tends to happen when one obsessively visits a new restaurant over and over, but this wasn’t “just a hip, new” eatery in town. I felt so grateful that we had our “own little El Bulli” in Los Angeles.
Not only do we have the Bazaar to take in an evening of magic (aka molecular gastronomy), but two of the chefs I admired from the beginning have left to run their own “modern” kitchens as well.
Michael Voltaggio went on to win Top Chef last year and he now wows at The Dining Room in Pasadena. His good friend Marcel Vigneron (runner-up on Top Chef season 2) only recently left the Bazaar to pursue several new opportunities. Marcel describes his own cuisine as “Modern Global Tastings” and first showcased his dishes at a guest chef event at Breadbar last December.
Just last week, Marcel became chef of the new Bar210 Lounge and Plush nightclub in Beverly Hills. Saturday night was the official opening night party, and it was a terrific night of whimsical, delicious eats and OH YES… liquid nitrogen cocktails too!
Peter and I arrived early to find the luxuriously beautiful Bar210 lounge very welcoming, especially the platters of food on the long communal table! We had a quick drink before running into Marcel near the bar and he immediately offered a tour of his new kitchen, which is always my favorite part of the evening. Watching a bunch of guys prep food may not be exciting to most, but I could’ve stayed back there all night. There’s nothing sexier than a killer mise en place station and a bunch of talented cooks plating beautiful dishes.
After Marcel let us taste several samples, he slipped us into the Plush nightclub and private V.I.P. room for a quick peek. I got a kick out of how much fun Marcel was having as he was showing us around. Peter and I were honored that he took the time on his opening night to be so attentive to us, and it just made us love him that much more.
Rooting for the good guy always feels good, especially when he’s been so badly misrepresented in the past. I’ll shout it over and over again, Marcel is one of the sweetest and most talented chefs I know. Top Chef made him look like a jerk, and he JUST isn’t.
Back in Bar210 we ran into a friendly face, fellow foodie (and Twitter pal) Ryan Tanaka, and also the gorgeous Laura Jeppson, a good friend of Marcel’s that we had met previously. Opening night’s are always a bit frenzied and unpredictable, but when we left we were happy to see a long line around the building.
Peter and I will definitely be back on a “regular night” to enjoy the menu with friends. Whether you call it modern or molecular gastronomy, whether you think it’s a passing fad or don’t agree with the concept, the most important thing is how FUN it all is, and Marcel Vigneron seems to be having the most fun of all.
UPDATE: Bar21o has CLOSED
9876 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90120
Date: 2/20/10 (opening night)
All my Bar210 Photos on Flickr