Last year, just a few days before the Great Chefs of L.A. event, I came down with a wretched stomach flu. By the morning of the actual event, I felt good enough to attend but my tummy wasn’t fully recovered yet.
Since my husband Peter was out of town on business, I planned on skipping the event altogether. Our $300 donation ($150 each) would still go to the Southern California National Kidney Cancer Foundation, and that was the most important part anyway.
But then I thought about the FOOD, the restaurants, and ALL the celebrity chefs I’d be missing. Could I really have fun at a food event, in the event that I couldn’t EAT the food?
The answer is yes. I made a quick call to my nephew Cody (who thankfully wasn’t working that morning), and an hour later we were strolling the backlot at CBS studio. I took lots of photos and tried a few bites, while Cody ate like only a fire-fighter-in-training could eat. He happily ate EVERYTHING, which of course made me happy too!
For this year’s Great Chefs of L.A., I was honored with a press pass and more importantly, a very hungry (and healthy) tummy! Peter bought a discounted ticket ($75 instead of $150) on GoldStar.com, and we both skipped breakfast to prepare for an afternoon feast.
Basically we tried to have a bite at each restaurant table (starting on the right side of the street) and slowly made our way around the event. We missed a few dishes, but also returned several times to have more of our favorites.
It was fun to run into my friends at the Bazaar. It’s been awhile since I’ve eaten there (since Michael Voltaggio left) but Peter and I will be heading back to the Rojo room this weekend, to try out all the new dishes on the menu.
Chef Marcel Vigneron was also at the event. If you’re not a Top Chef fan (like me), Marcel was runner-up on season two. When I first met him last year at the Bazaar, I told him how much he annoyed me, when I watched him on Top Chef. His confidence came off as arrogance, and he was the “character” that I (as well as most of America) loved to hate.
After I got to know Marcel, I realized that off camera he is NOTHING like how he is portrayed on TV. He’s an absolute sweetheart, and it bugs me that he gets a bad rap. We talked for a bit about current (super exciting but I can’t talk about it) projects he’s working on, and his upcoming guest-chef stint at BreadBar (which of course I can talk about and have linked below).
One of the main reasons I love going to food events (besides donating to charity) is to try out food from eateries I haven’t been to yet. Restaurants that are on my very lengthy “To Do” list, like Saddlepeak Lodge and EAST (which had my absolute favorite bite of the day). The Great Chefs of L.A. event brings together all these things, and it’s one I’ll return to year after year.
“Green” Carpet Hostess (ADORABLE, from Top Chef season 1) Chef Candace Kumai (The Stiletto Chef)
Gaspacho Andaluz by Bokado restaurant (Chef Frank Leon).
Chef Frank Leon of La Loggia and Bokado restaurant.
Pintxo de Pollo/ Lamb by Frank Leon of La Loggia and Bokado restaurant.
Short Rib Grilled Cheese w/ Onion Marmalade and Bel Paese Cheese, Truffled Potato Chips by Govind Armstrong, 8 oz Burger
Border Grill Truck
Border Grill’s Avocado Taco: chipotle salsa, creamy corn relish, pickled onion.
Ceviche, Border Grill
Sushi Poppers (I’m a sucker for ANYTHING on a stick!)
Peter trying a Sushi Popper.
The SUPER FAB Chef Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill.
Chef Neal Fraser’s Braised Veal Shortribs with Polenta
Chef Celestino Drago’s Duck Sandwich, Butternut Squash Soup
SaddlePeak Lodge’s Grilled Nilgai Antelope w/ Cabbage, Bacon, Apple and Black Garlic
Bottega Louie’s Brie, Blood Orange & Watercress Paninis and Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Burrata & Pesto Salad
The lovely Josie (UncouthGourmands) with chef Celestino Drago
Baked Spaghetti wrapped with Eggplant, served on a bed of tomato basil sauce, topped with mozzarella by chef Giacomino Drago at Il Pastaio
Mr. Cecils Big Beef Ribs & St. Louis Style Pork Ribs
George Lopez, spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation
George Lopez, with Chefs of Honor, Neal Fraser and Mary Sue Milliken
Akasha’s Beer Braised Niman Ranch Short Ribs, Betty Kennedy’s Plum-Mustard Chutney
Scallops on the 1/2 shell, Lemongrass sambal, wasabi creme fraiche, shiso dust, micro cilantro by Chef Kevin Alan, East Restaurant (my favorite of the day!)
Hawaiian Walu: Miso mustard cream, micro wasabi, chive essence, smoked chardonnay sea salt by Chef Kevin Alan, East Restaurant
Strawberrylicious Cupcakes by Leyna’s Kitchen
Adorable (and SWEET!) Cupcake Girls
Making the Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha from The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel.
Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha from The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel.
Peter chatting with Marcel
Me and Marcel
The Awesome Gift Bags (including a fresh pomegranate!)
Contents (including fantastic coupons for wine, hair salons, headshot photo session and margaritas at Border Grill!)
All my photos on Flickr
Great Chefs of L.A. 2008
SoCal Kidney Foundation
BreadBar Hatchi Series
The Stiletto Chef
Thanks to Nancy Huang, Slife PR
great chefs of L.A. Great Chefs of LA Los Angeles
Details about Great Chefs of LA:
George Lopez Hosts The Great Chefs of Los Angeles
“Go Green, Go Organic” Food & Wine Benefit at CBS Studios
The 23rd Annual Great Chefs of Los Angeles brings together L.A.’s top tastemakers for an afternoon of food, wine, music and auctions to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. GCLA draws more than 500 people each year, and has raised more than $4.5 million for the foundation since its inception in 1987. The recently introduced “Go Green, Go Organic” theme promotes eco-conscious living and sustainability, utilizing organic foodstuffs and eco-friendly products throughout the festivities.
WHO: George & Ann Lopez
National Kidney Foundation spokesman George Lopez, a kidney disease survivor, and his wife and kidney donor Ann Lopez, will host the afternoon’s festivities as Honorary Chairs. “Usually I don’t eat, but when I eat, I eat GREEN!” quips George Lopez. The actor/comedian will host Great Chefs just a day before the premiere of his late night show Lopez Tonight,” premiering on Nov. 9 at 11/10c on TBS.
Chefs of Honor Neal Fraser (Grace, BLD) and Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (Border Grill, Ciudad) lead a stellar lineup of top toques from Los Angeles. The Chefs of Honor will present awards to their fellow participating chefs to spotlight the use of local, organic and sustainable ingredients. Hostess Chef Candice Kumai, The Stiletto Chef of TLC’s “Cook Yourself Thin,” will serve as emcee for the event and auction.
Featured chefs include:
* Adam Horton, Saddlepeak Lodge
* Akasha Richmond, Akasha
* Andrea Cavaliere, Cecconi’s
* Benjamin Ford, Ford’s Filling Station
* Bob Lynn, La Grande Orange
* Brian Moyers, BLT Steak
* Calogero Drago, Celestino Ristorante & Panzanella
* Celestino Drago, Drago Restaurant, Enoteca Drago, Il Pastaio, Drago Centro
* Chris Moran, Events D’Elegance
* David Linville, Charlie’s Malibu
* Frank Leon, LaLoggia Ristorante & Bokado
* Keven Alan Lee, EAST Restaurant & Lounge
* Giacomino Drago, Il Pastaio
* Govind Armstrong, 8 oz.
* Jason Johnston, Dakota
* Jesse Perez, Fuego at Hotel Maya
* Jimmy Shaw, Loteria Grill
* Joachim Weritz, Moonshadows
* Jonathan Burrows, Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs
* Jorge Chicas, The Bazaar – SLS Hotel
* Josie Le Balch, Josie Restaurant
* Margarito Cid, Harry’s Oklahoma Style Smokehouse BBQ
* Mary Sue Milliken & Susan Feniger, Border Grill & Ciudad Restaurants
* Michael Fiorelli, mar’sel
* Neal Fraser, Grace & BLD
* Paolo Sicuro, Via Alloro
* Roberto Maggioni, Lago
* Sam Marvin & Christopher Goossen, Bottega Louie Restaurant & Gourmet Market
* Simon Dolinky, BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar
* Steven Fretz, XIV
* Tanino Drago, Tanino Ristorante & Panzanella Ristorante
* Yoji Tajima, SHU – Sushi House Unico
* Leyna’s Kitchen
Wines and beverages will be provided by:
* Barone Fine Winery
* Buttonwood Farm Winery
* Crossings, New Zealand
* Duckhorn Wine Company
* Frank Family Vineyards
* Golden State Wine Co.
* Grgich Hills Estate
* Jaffe Estate Wine
* Jack Wines
* Jocelyn Lonen Winery
* Kunde Estate Winery
* L’Aventure Winery
* Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
* Loring Wine Co.
* Quinta do Castro
* Regal Wine Co.
* Sterling Organics
* Trefethen Family Vineyards
* Vega Sicilia
* Villa Franttina
* Remy Cointreau USA
* Charles Heidsieck
* VeeV Açai Spirit
* Tequila Ocho
* RIGHT Gin
* Budweiser American Ale
* Bud Light Wheat
* Fireman’s Brew
* Leffe Blonde
* Michelob Ultra Light
* Michelob Amber Bock
* Shock Top Belgian White
* Stella Artois
* IZZE Beverage Company
* Lupicia Fresh Tea
* POM Wonderful
* Weaver’s Coffee & Tea
Get Hip Get Green, an eco-conscious leader in producing stylish reusable bags, totes and water bottles, sponsor the GCLA “944 Get Hip Get Green” Lounge, outfitted with environmentally friendly lounge furniture provided by Girari Sustainable Furnishing. VeeV Açai Spirit, a leading distiller in promoting social responsibility in the beverage industry, will pour cocktails at the “Go Green Go Organic” Spirits Bar. Guests will use biodegradable utensils by Sysco’s Eco Company line.
Guests will receive Get Hip Get Green’s reusable gift totes stuffed with $250 worth of goodies from leading green and eco-friendly companies, including LaRocca Skincare, Healing Skin, Utter Cream, Eco-Panda, Herbal Water, Nelson J Salon, Alterna, OPI, Explorer’s Bounty, Celtic Sea Salt, Edward & Sons Trading Co., Pop Chips, Robert’s American Gourmet and Little Laura’s Sweets, among many others.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
12 to 3:30 p.m.
CBS Studio Center
4024 Radford Dr.
Studio City, CA 91604
Featured items for this year’s live auction include a Maurice Lacroix Limited Edition 999 Watch, a private dinner party courtesy of Neal Fraser paired with wine from Frank Family Vineyards, a Border Grill Truck Party for 25, a La Loggia party for 25, two round-trip business class tickets on American Airlines to one of their European destinations, and a five-night stay at Aurelio-Lech, a brand new luxury ski lodge in Austria. The silent auction will include items such as a sports memorabilia, travel packages to international destinations and numerous wine and spirits packages.
About the Kidney Foundation of Southern California
The National Kidney Foundation is the major voluntary health organization dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation. Through its offices nationwide, the foundation conducts programs in research, professional education, patient and community services, public education and organ donation.