Tag Archives: “liquid nitrogen”

Focus on Fullilove

Years ago, when I traveled the globe with a wildlife photographer, I spent hours in the field (from Africa to the Arctic) wielding a video camera and taking photography notes. When people see my snapshots of these wonderful adventures, they automatically assume that each moment was an all out adrenaline-rush.

Jo with Polar Bear, MyLastBite.comThe truth is, besides filming behind-the-scenes footage and organizing rolls of film (this was before digital cameras), most of my hours were spent simply waiting (along with the rest of the crew). If we weren’t waiting for the perfect light, then maybe we were waiting for an animal to appear. I personally remember always waiting for meal times, but mostly I was just waiting for something (anything) to happen. Be it the open plains of East Africa or an epic ice floe in the Arctic, I learned to devise a few tricks-of-the-mind to stay alert. That next shot could be the award-winning image my boss was always after, so there was no letting my guard down on the job.

Back then (1992-1994) I didn’t have an iPhone or a portable dvd player to entertain myself, but I did keep a walk-man tucked away in my gear. Batteries were a precious commodity in the field, so I restricted myself to just a few moments of music (usually Bowie) each day. Books were on hand of course, but I’d quickly burn through those and find myself again… waiting.

On Safari, MyLastBite.comOn safari in Tanzania, we spent a week watching cheetahs in the beautiful Serengeti. The first couple of days were great, but then I started isolating myself away from my boss and the fellow photographers. While we all sat waiting in our Landrover, I would just “check out” and focus on something apart from the WAITING. Sometimes I would look at a kopje (the rock formations) and spend the entire day “building” my dream home from start to finish. Compartmentalizing turned out to be a gift that I tapped into on a daily basis.

Searching for polar bears near the Arctic Circle was one of the more grueling trips for me. The tiny metal boats were uncomfortable, and we would spend hours and hours searching Wager Bay for swimming bears, especially hard-to-find cubs. The boats were open and I was well-protected from the freezing cold, but endless hours of bumping on the icy water were downright painful.

Working near the Arctic CircleMy job was to video-tape my boss photographing the bears, but when he wasn’t snapping pictures I would hunker down and compartmentalize myself into a fetal position. There was no way I could sleep in the bouncing boat, and one shout from the captain (“BEAR!”) had me up and ready with camera in hand. One of my favorite “surviving the boredom” games on this particular trip was to recreate entire musicals, from start to finish in my head. I’m sure everyone thought I was a nut, but that’s how I dealt with it.

I’ve used this coping skill in some restaurants and bars as well. Not to say I completely zoned out, crawled on the floor and sang “Funny Girl” to myself, but on several occasions I have had to BLOCK out one part of the experience to enjoy another. At times it’s the noise, or maybe the service was terrible. There have been plenty of times when I didn’t enjoy the food at all, so I focused on something else… like the cocktails or even the decor. I didn’t write about those experiences, because that’s not what I normally do.

A recent dinner at Davinci restaurant in Beverly Hills had me excited, but also a bit bewildered. Here, was this amazing chef bringing plate after plate of his exquisite spring menu to our table, but it was sort of like the food didn’t match the atmosphere. For the first hour or so, the background music was nice (a bit of bossa nova, which I love). But when I heard an unidentifiable disco track blaring through the dining room, just as I bit into a velvety Foie Gras Terrine I thought, “well okay, I’m just going to block out the jarring music… and focus on the food.”

The regulars seemed to really enjoy the festive music scene though. It was Saturday night after all, and as our meal progressed, the room became louder with patrons laughing, clapping and even dancing in the dining room. There’s nothing wrong with a rowdy night out with friends, but the raucous scene playing against the seductively, elegant food was pretty much a study in contrasts.

While writing this post, Peter reminded me of the “peach and Heath Bar” incident when we were first dating. After having dinner with a friend in Brentwood, we decided to get some frozen yogurt nearby. Since I couldn’t decide on what to get, Peter went first and asked for peach frozen yogurt with Heath bar candy (toffee & chocolate) crumbles on top. I thought it was just disgusting and for years after that, whenever I thought something didn’t go together, I would just say, “that is SO peach and Heath bar.” Mind you, I love peaches AND I love Heath bars… just not at the same time.

Chef Jason FulliloveExecutive Chef Jason Fullilove was most recently the chef de cuisine for Top Chef winner Ilan Hall’s The Gorbals. Having only tasted appetizers from when The Gorbals served at various events, we weren’t sure what to expect at Davinci. I did see a post by blogger “Food She Thought” that piqued my interest though (link below), so I knew we were in for some good grub.

The food far surpassed our expectations and Chef Fullilove was so welcoming, even sitting down with us a few times to discuss the courses. Our server, Alina, was super attentive as well and we loved our cozy booth in the corner near the stairs (ask for it if you make a reservation).

Eventually, Chef Fullilove said he’d like to open a “fun gastropub environment with cutting edge cuisine.” If the food we tasted is an indication of what the future holds, then I’ll be focusing on Fullilove for many years to come.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Lavender and Honey Granita Amuse: A welcoming & refreshing palate cleanser.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Fried Artichokes: Parsilage, Garlic, Preserved Lemons. So good we had to order a second plate. Each leaf pulled off like a crispy, artichoke chip.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Heirloom Beet Salad: Watermelon Radish, Humboldt Fog, Mache, Pistachio Vinaigrette. Peter and I always order beet salads if on the menu, but the HF cheese really complimented the tangy beets.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Foie Gras Terrine: Smoked Cashews, Candied Cocoa Nibs, Vanilla Gastrique. LIKE VELVET with a candy glass crunch on top.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Asparagus Ravioli: Pecorino, Cherry Tomatoes. Pasta in full Spring!

Chef Jason Fullilove
Squid Ink Linguini, Pomodoro, Loup De Mer. Earthy, luscious with flavors layered throughout.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Preserved Lemon Ricotta, Poached Figs, Pistachio Dust and Sage Foam. One bite of tart, sweet and creamy goodness.

Chef Jason Fullilove
Red Snapper with Lobster Vinaigrette, Smoked Lobster Emulsion, Black Prawns, Octopus Sausage and Black Octopus Cracklins.My personal favorite… Octopus SAUSAGE & Crispy BACON-like cracklin!

Chef Jason Fullilove
Colorado Spring Lamb Duo: House-cured Lamb Bacon, Fennel Puree, Market Vegetables. I don’t like lamb. Peter loves it… he especially loved it with the lamb bacon!

Desserts: I’m not a fan of desserts, but luckily our friends Phil & Kat had stopped by and joined us for the finish. I did have one bite of each and my favorite was the Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet and the Panna Cotta with Butter Cookie Crumbs (below).

Chef Jason Fullilove
Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet on left and Kiwi

Chef Jason Fullilove
Apple Zeppoli with Blueberry Cream Sauce

Chef Jason Fullilove
Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta with Butter Cookie Crumbs

Davinci Restaurantwebsite
9737 Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills 90210
(310) 888-0090

Follow Chef Fullilove on Twitter

Food She Thought’s visit

My former boss and (long-time friend!), photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen

The cheetahs we were watching

Polar bear in Wager Bay

The Serengeti

Sila Lodge, Wager Bay (Polar Bear Viewing)

More  personal pictures in Africa

More personal pictures near the Arctic

The Gorbals

Note: Peter and I rarely attend sponsored meals, so we were confused when no bill came at the end of our dinner. We sat arguing with the servers and I even went in the kitchen to speak to the chef, but they insisted on comping the dinner. I felt very uncomfortable doing this though (especially because I could tell there was so much work put into the evening), so I sat there until we were allowed to leave a HEFTY credit card tip to cover part of the meal. If we had brought cash, this wouldn’t have been an issue. As I wrote earlier, Peter and I both really like Chef Fullilove, so we’ll be treating him out to a fun dinner in the near future!

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Filed under Eating Out, Hot Chefs

Bar210 (two one oh!)

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.”

Olives Ferran Adrià, MyLastBite.comLike 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.

At the Bazaar, MyLastBite.comDuring 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.

Marcel Vigneron at HatchiMichael 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.

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210After 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.

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
POMEGRANITE SPHERIFICATION filled with fresh blueberry

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
WATERMELON & TOMATO: masago & bee pollen ~ nasturtium ~ lemon vinaigrette

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
MUSHROOM TART: burrata ~ petite arugula sylvetta ~ caramelized cippolini

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
SALTY PEEWEE POTATOES: chlorophyll mayo

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
TUNA TARTARE CORNETS: avocado & banana ~ coconut milk powder

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
PORK BELLY SLIDERS: green papaya slaw ~ pimenton espelette

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
BONELESS CHICKEN WINGS : “fancy sauce” ~ micro celery ~ maytag blue

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
Transmontanus Caviar and Cherrywood Smoked Salmon Roe

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
Marcel making the Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail: “Brain Freeze” with Tomato Water and Absolut Pepper

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
Marcel serving Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail: “Brain Freeze” with Tomato Water and Absolut Pepper

Marcel Vigneron @ Bar210
Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail: “Brain Freeze” with Tomato Water and Absolut Pepper

 

 

UPDATE: Bar21o has CLOSED

Bar210/Plush
9876 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90120

Website

Date: 2/20/10 (opening night)

All my Bar210 Photos on Flickr

Bar210 on LA Weekly

More photos of Bar210 & Plush on BizBash

Marcel’s Guest Chef Event, BreadBar’s Hatchi

Ferran Adria in Time Magazine

Ferran Adria Rumors

The Dining Room (Michael Voltaggio)

My first visit to Bazaar

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Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

She’s Truly Scrumptious!

Chef Waylynn Lucas at BreadBar’s Hatchi Series

I’m not a huge fan of desserts. I like sweet AND savory dishes, but when it comes to the end of a great meal, I’d rather settle into a daring cheese plate and a few bites of fruit. My husband Peter on the other hand is, in fact, a DESSERT FREAK and he’ll even eat chocolate with his morning coffee if we have it in the house.

I used to eat desserts just because Peter ordered them, but since we dine out so much, I simply had to cut back on something (and it wasn’t going to be cocktails!). It came down to this: If I don’t absolutely LOVE and CRAVE it, I’m not wasting calories just because it’s there.

Cake is what you make it! MyLastBite.comFor my birthday last March, my sister even made me a meatloaf & mashed potato cake. When I first opened the cake box, I thought it was a mistake! My family knows I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I was doubly shocked to see the beautifully decorated dessert. It turned out to be the best birthday meat cake EVER!

So, since I’m not a dessert connoisseur, why in the world would I sit down for an evening of just DESSERTS at BreadBar’s Hatchi? Well… because I happen to be a SUPER fan of pastry chef Waylynn Lucas.

If you dined at the Patisserie at The Bazaar by José Andrés during the first nine months of opening, then you probably tasted Waylynn’s amazing creations. My favorites were the “Nitro Coconut Floating Island”, “Beet Meringue with Berries”, and white chocolate POPROCKS! For these special dinners out, I definitely have at least a taste of the exquisite desserts offered.

Bazaar Coconut Island, MyLastBite.comWaylynn is not only a talented pastry chef, but she’s also an absolute delight to be around. During each visit to the Bazaar (15 when I stopped counting), she always spent a little extra time with my family and friends whenever we ate in the Patisserie. My niece and nephews have even elevated her to “Wonka Status”, because when they speak about Waylynn, it’s like they’re talking about the fictional candy maker. Although I’d personally describe Waylynn as more like “Truly Scrumptious”, the beautiful (and charming) daughter of the candy factory owner in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”!

At a recent BreadBar Hatchi guest-chef event, Waylynn presented a menu titled, “Favorite Childhood Flavors in a Sophisticated New Way”, and it did not disappoint. We invited four, sugar lovin’ friends to join us for the sweet feast and there were “oohs and aahs” all around the table.

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.comI tasted each of the eight dishes, and my two favorites (I had seconds!) were the “Lemon Meringue Pie” and “PB and J”.

The best part, for all of us, was that each of Waylynn’s creations took us right back to our childhoods (with even just one bite). It was a wonderful evening of laughing, sharing memories AND great cocktails too!

As a kid I dreamt about having just desserts for dinner (didn’t we all?), so it was a real treat to have the talented and truly scrumptious Waylynn Lucas make this grade-school dream come true.

“Favorite Childhood Flavors in a Sophisticated New Way”
by Chef Waylynn Lucas

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Strawberry Shortcake: Nitro Frozen Vanilla Custard, Fresh Strawberries, Vanilla Genoise, Thai Basil

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Lemon Meringue Pie: Fresh Berries, Cookie Crumble, Pop Rocks

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Creamsicle: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Mandarin sorbet, Buttermilk Cake

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
PB&J: Peanut Butter and Jelly Filled Beignets, Milkshake Shooters

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Bao Zhong and Kenya Gichathaini (palate cleansers), Molten Chocolate Cake with Banana Brulee Pudding and Hazelnut Praline with Milk Sorbet, Candies.

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Fudgesicle: Frozen Chocolate, Mint Sponge, Peppermint Glaciers

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.comg
Pudding: Twisted Milk Chocolate, Coffee Ice Cream, Toffee

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Candy, Candy, Candy: Lollipops, Caramel, Marshmallow, Pate de Fruit, Bonbon

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Old Fashioned: Maker’s Mark, lemon and orange essence, Angostura’s aromatic bitters.

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Waylynn at Work

Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Peter and Waylynn

If you missed Waylynn at Breadbar, you can visit her at the Penthouse, in Santa Monica (in the Huntely Hotel). Website

About Hatchi:
Hatchi at BreadBar is a “unique venture featuring a different guest chef every month preparing an original, one-night-only suite of eight plates, including six ’savory’ dishes and two ’sweet’ creations”. Hatchi means number eight in Japanese: 8 Plates offered at $8 each. Check BreadBar’s website for upcoming Hatchi events (link below). 

Pastry Chef Waylynn Lucas, MyLastBite.comBreadBar Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067
310 277 3770
WebSite

Dining Date: 11/19/09
Sweet even spent with: Jayson, Devon, Ram, Mark & Noelle! 

All my Hatchi Visits

All my Waylynn Photos on Flickr

Mentioned Above:

The “Truly Scrumptious” Song! 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Willy Wonka

The Bazaar by José Andrés 

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Hot Chefs

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009

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.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009Basically 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.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
“Green” Carpet Hostess (ADORABLE, from Top Chef season 1) Chef Candace Kumai (The Stiletto Chef)

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Hungry Crowd!

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Gaspacho Andaluz by Bokado restaurant (Chef Frank Leon).

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Chef Frank Leon of La Loggia and Bokado restaurant.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Pintxo de Pollo/ Lamb by Frank Leon of La Loggia and Bokado restaurant.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Short Rib Grilled Cheese w/ Onion Marmalade and Bel Paese Cheese, Truffled Potato Chips by Govind Armstrong, 8 oz Burger

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Border Grill Truck

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Border Grill’s Avocado Taco: chipotle salsa, creamy corn relish, pickled onion.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Ceviche, Border Grill

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Sushi Poppers (I’m a sucker for ANYTHING on a stick!)

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Peter trying a Sushi Popper.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
The SUPER FAB Chef Jimmy Shaw of Loteria Grill.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Chef Neal Fraser’s Braised Veal Shortribs with Polenta

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Chef Celestino Drago’s Duck Sandwich, Butternut Squash Soup

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
SaddlePeak Lodge’s Grilled Nilgai Antelope w/ Cabbage, Bacon, Apple and Black Garlic

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Bottega Louie’s Brie, Blood Orange & Watercress Paninis and Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Burrata & Pesto Salad

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
The lovely Josie (UncouthGourmands) with chef Celestino Drago

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Baked Spaghetti wrapped with Eggplant, served on a bed of tomato basil sauce, topped with mozzarella by chef Giacomino Drago at Il Pastaio

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Mr. Cecils Big Beef Ribs & St. Louis Style Pork Ribs

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
George Lopez, spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
George Lopez, with Chefs of Honor, Neal Fraser and Mary Sue Milliken

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Akasha’s Beer Braised Niman Ranch Short Ribs, Betty Kennedy’s Plum-Mustard Chutney

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
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!)

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Hawaiian Walu: Miso mustard cream, micro wasabi, chive essence, smoked chardonnay sea salt by Chef Kevin Alan, East Restaurant

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Strawberrylicious Cupcakes by Leyna’s Kitchen

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Adorable (and SWEET!) Cupcake Girls

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Making the Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha from The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha from The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel.

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Peter chatting with Marcel

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Me and Marcel

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Auction Goodies

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
The Awesome Gift Bags (including a fresh pomegranate!)

Great Chefs of L.A. 2009
Contents (including fantastic coupons for wine, hair salons, headshot photo session and margaritas at Border Grill!)

All my photos on Flickr

Mentioned Above:

Great Chefs of L.A. 2008

SoCal Kidney Foundation

Marcel Vigneron

BreadBar Hatchi Series

Goldstar

East Restaurant

Saddlepeak Lodge

UncouthGourmands.com

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.

CHEFS:
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:
Wines
* Barone Fine Winery
* Buttonwood Farm Winery
* Crossings, New Zealand
* Duckhorn Wine Company
* Frank Family Vineyards
* FIFTYROW
* 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

Champagnes
* Remy Cointreau USA
* Charles Heidsieck
* Piper-Hiedsieck
Spirits
* VeeV Açai Spirit
* Tequila Ocho
* RIGHT Gin

Beers
* Budweiser American Ale
* Bud Light Wheat
* Fireman’s Brew
* Hoegaarden
* Leffe Blonde
* O’Douls
* Michelob Ultra Light
* Michelob Amber Bock
* Shock Top Belgian White
* Stella Artois

Other Beverages
* Bonadea
* IZZE Beverage Company
* Lupicia Fresh Tea
* POM Wonderful
* Smartwater
* Weaver’s Coffee & Tea

GO GREEN:
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.

WHEN:
Sunday, November 8, 2009
12 to 3:30 p.m.

WHERE:
CBS Studio Center
4024 Radford Dr.
Studio City, CA 91604

AUCTION:
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.

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)

BREADBAR’s Hatchi Series: 8 for $8

What is Hatchi?

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.comA little background (by LA Weekly):
“The Hatchi series, a collaboration between Breadbar and chef Noriyuki Sugie, began this past June and showcases a guest chef the last Thursday of each month. The series menu features 8 small plate courses at $8 a dish–“hatchi” means 8 in Japanese–and guests order a minimum of three dishes. The chefs, who are picked for their rising-star talent, are given a budget and must stick within it; Sugie is on hand to mentor, watch, and (one hopes) taste a few dishes. The previous chefs to run the floor were Debbie Lee (The Next Food Network Star, now at Gyenari), Michael Voltaggio (now chef de cuisine at The Langham) and Santa Barbara-based private chef Roberto Cortez.”

I love these “guest chef” dinners, and do my best to attend each one. So far I’ve been to three (links below), and highly recommend it! It’s just a really comfortable and inexpensive way to try out a chef’s new menu.

Michael Voltaggio at Hatchi
Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com

Robert Cortez at Hatchi
Cortez @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com

Remi Lauvand at Hatchi
Lauvand @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com

Waylynn Lucas at Hatchi
Waylynn at Hatchi, MyLastBite.com

Marcel Vigneron at Hatchi
Marcel Vigneron at Hatchi, MyLastBite

Upcoming Events: 1/28/10 Ricardo Zarate
Chef at Mo Chica
Hatchi Theme: Peru Much Gusto

voltaggio top chef

BreadBar Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 277 3770
WebSite (check for upcoming Hatchi dinners)

Follow BreadBar on Twitter @BreadBar_LA

Mentioned above:

LA Weekly

Chef Noriyuki Sugie

BreadBar

Chef Voltaggio – Dining Room at the Langham

Chef Lauvand – Cafe Pierre

Chef Roberto Cortez

Chef Debbie Lee – Gyenari

voltaggio married wife girlfriend michael voltaggio’s top chef

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Filed under Eating Out

Michael Voltaggio – Hatchi Dinner

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chef Michael Voltaggio. Luckily for me, I also get to call him a friend.

Voltaggio, MyLastBite.comEver since I first tasted Michael’s food at the Bazaar by José Andrés last year, I made sure to keep an eye on the man that chef Andrés selected to open (as Esquire Magazine recently coined), the “Restaurant of the Year”.

The L.A. Times even gave the Bazaar a rare FOUR STAR review, and yes… I understand that the restaurant, menu and concept belong to the great José Andrés (I adore him too). But it was primarily Michael Voltaggio I saw in the kitchen each time I sat down for dinner in the Bazaar’s Roja room.

Michael now runs the kitchen at the Dining Room in Pasadena, which is located in the Langham Hotel. Before starting this most recent gig, he took some “time off” to compete in Bravo’s Top Chef – Season 6 (which is currently airing). He even squeezed in time to helm a one-night-only Hatchi guest chef event at BreadBar Restaurant in Century City, and it was there that I got to taste creations that were finally, truly his own.

Partying with the boys, MyLastBite.comBreadBar describes the Hatchi Series as a “unique venture featuring a different guest chef every month preparing an original, one-night-only suite of eight plates, including six ‘savory’ dishes and two ‘sweet’ creations”. Hatchi means number eight in Japanese: 8 Plates offered at $8 each. I love the Hatchi dinners, and do my best to attend each one!

The best part about Michael Voltaggio’s Hatchi dinner, surprisingly, wasn’t about the food. OF COURSE the food was STELLAR, it’s Michael Voltaggio for goodness sakes, but my favorite part was meeting and getting to know Michael’s mother, Sharon and his stepdad, Bob.

Top Chef 6 hadn’t started airing yet, and there was a lot excitement and anticipation at the restaurant that night. Sharon and I now email each other every Wednesday night after the show has aired, so we can dish about how her TWO sons are doing on the show. In case you don’t watch Top Chef, Bryan Voltaggio (Michael’s equally talented big brother) is also competing for the title this year. Sharon is certainly one proud mom, that’s for sure!

Michael Voltaggio’s incredible Hatchi menu:
An Experience of Texture and Flavor

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Artichokes “Barigoule” Salmon Belly, Philadelphia Cheese, Smoked Salmon Roe

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Japanese Tomato Tartare: Green Almonds, Parmesan “Overeasy”, Tapenade

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Hamachi Crudo: Smoked Egg Yolk, Sea Sponge, Watermelon and Wild Rice

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Veal Sweetbread, Poached Egg, Coffee Cardamom Soil (before adding Pea Consomme)

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Veal Sweetbread, Poached Egg, Pea Consomme, Coffee Cardamom Soil

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Chicken Thigh: Cuttlefish, Green Garlic, Sweet and Sour Mushrooms

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Wagyu Beef: Short Rib, Saul’s Pastrami, Tamarind, Broccoli Textures, Horseradish “Styrofoam”

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Miso Cake: Jasmine “Rice Cream”, Strawberry, Yuzu

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Fool’s Gold: Hazelnut Praline, Salty Caramel, Nitro Coffee Mousse.
Sommelier Matthew Lathan paired each dish beautifully with wines, sherry and beer!

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
Chefs Michael Voltaggio and Marcel Vigneron (Top Chef Season 2)


Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.comBreadBar Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067
310 277 3770
WebSite 

Dining Date: 7/30/09
With friends Afaf & Ray.

Hatchi Dinner: 8 Plates for $8
See website (link above) for upcoming Hatchi dinners!

The Dining Room at the Langham

Michael Voltaggio’s Top Chef Bio

Bryan Voltaggio’s Top Chef Bio

Esquire Magazine (Bazaar)

L.A. Times (Bazaar)

All my Michael Voltaggio photos on Flickr

More awesome Voltaggio tattoos (posted with permission)!

Voltaggio, MyLastBite.com
on his hand

Voltaggio, MyLastBite.com
on his arm

Voltaggio, MyLastBite.com
for his mother

Voltaggio @ Hatchi, MyLastBite.com
More about Hatchi

More about Michael Voltaggio

Voltaggio, Voltaggio, Michael Volaggio, Bryan, Top Chef Las Vegas, Voltaggio Brothers Voltaggio, Voltaggio, Michael Volaggio, Bryan, Top Chef Las Vegas, Voltaggio Brothers

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Filed under Eating Out

The Flirtini Incident

The last time Peter and I hosted Easter brunch at our house, it was sort of a disaster.

We invited my sister Janet, Peter’s sister Susan and both their families for a late Sunday brunch. I spent a few days getting the back garden perfectly decorated with new flowers, and set up a long dining room table outside with my great aunt’s hand-painted china. I even got out my Scottish (clan Maxwell) grandmother’s antique linen napkins and gently ironed each piece, which wasn’t so easy to do because of the hand-embroidered “M” sticking up on the corners.

It was a gorgeous Easter Sunday and our backyard looked like a page out of House & Garden magazine, especially with the flea-market chandelier hanging above the table. Peter secured the heavy fixture to a large branch on our oak tree, even though we didn’t need the light of course. The glass made the garden so pretty, twinkling in the sun through the leaves.

I always like having a “signature” cocktail when I entertain for a large group (even for brunch!). It makes it easier for the hostess (so I don’t have to set up a full bar) and it makes it fun for the guests, especially if the drink is something new.

A few weeks before the disastrous Easter, I was watching the Sex in the City episode where Samantha befriends the transvestites in her new apartment building. Throughout most of the episode she and the “ladies” were arguing over late-night noise outside her bedroom window and Samantha couldn’t get any sleep. After an ongoing catfight with the “guys”, including throwing water on them from her apartment window, she finally decided it would be better just to make nice, and hosted a roof-top barbecue for the whole gang. The episode ended with Samantha raising a glass, toasting Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and her new “girl friends” with a cocktail called, “Flirtini”.

Samantha’s Flirtini Recipe:
2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Apricot Liquor or Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
Splash of Champagne, garnish with a strawberry

I thought it would be so fabulous to serve Flirtinis for Easter lunch. They sounded so “fresh and fruity, like springtime”! It was about noon when our guests arrived and the grown-ups started drinking the first of several pitchers. I had never gotten a buzz so fast before (I’m sure it was the vodka mixed with champagne), and by the time we sat down to eat, we were all stinking DRUNK.

What type of food did I serve for our beautiful Easter brunch? I can’t remember (or maybe I don’t want to remember). I had a hangover by late evening and spent the next two days cleaning and packing up the antique dishes. All that effort setting up the garden, gathering our family together, and the memory of the day is just a painful blur.

I haven’t had a Flirtini since, and only remembered it when I suggested to Peter that we should host Easter at our house this year. But he had a much better idea: How about we treat our family to Easter brunch at the Bazaar?

*Brunch at the Bazaar by José Andrés [visit 10]

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Huevos a la Cubana “Andy Garcia” (12 Tiny Eggs Sunny Side Up), $12. One of the three new brunch items on the menu at the Bazaar by José Andrés. I know this LOOKS like a lot of yolk, but these were small quail eggs. Lightly crispy underneath with a savory tomato sauce on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Eggs Benedict “New Way”, Iberico Ham, $18. So beautiful that I couldn’t stop turning the plate and taking photos! The piece of ham was CRISPY and crackled when I bit into it, and the foam tasted like butter. I’ll never be able to have Eggs Benedict anywhere else again.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Savory Spanish Torrijas: Iberico Ham, Egg 63 (egg was poached at  63ºF.) and Idiazabal Cheese, $18. This was my favorite new brunch item. It was very similar to french toast under the ham… but so much better of course!

Along with the new brunch items, we shared dishes (that I’ve had several times before) from both the regular Traditional and Modern menus including:

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Tuna Ceviche and Avocado Roll, $12. My sister Janet’s favorite.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Crab Meat Steamed Buns with Pickled Japanese Cucumbers, $18. Three per order (about two bites per little sandwich), never enough!

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Croquetas de Pollo (Chicken and Bechamel Fritters), $8 This is ALWAYS a favorite at the table. Perfect bites (like large tater tots) of little “chicken pot pies”.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Bloody Mary: Freshly made tomato juice with a celery-wasabi foam, $16. Definitely could have been a meal in itself! I loved the wasabi foam on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
In front: Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka, $20. House-made Lemonade (freshly squeezed lemon juice, rosemary syrup), $6. Bloody Mary (back, left).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Felix Meana making the “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka. I love when the liquid nitrogen cart comes rolling up to the table. This screwdriver was velvety smooth and strong! We all loved it.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Jade (partial), my nephew Cody, Peter’s niece, Chanel.
Top Right: My niece Kindal and Cody’s girlfriend Jade.
Bottom Right: Peter’s sister Susan and her boyfriend, Jerry.
Bottom Left: Chanel, Peter and Miles (Peter’s nephew).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles and my friend, Laur.
Top Right: Susan, Jerry, my sister, Janet and nephew, Chace.
Bottom Right: Jo (me!) and Peter.
Bottom Left: Cody and Chanel.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles digging into dessert, Chace gets comfy on the Blanco couch. With the twins, Chace and Kindal.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Peter holding court in the Blanca room! The Rojo room was closed for the restaurant’s first official brunch.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Chef Marcel Vigneron invited the twins (my sister’s kids, Chace and Kindal) back to see the kitchen. They are both fans of “Top Chef” and have been cooking since they were really little, so this was heaven! Thanks Chef!

Dishes we also shared, that I’ve had on previous visits:

Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt Tamarind Dip, $10

Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread, $8

‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan)

Foie Gras and Quince on mini Brioche Bun, $15

Nitro Coconut Floating Island Dessert, $10

We also shared a pitcher of Sangria Rojo, $42. (no photo)

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
Dining date: 4/12/09

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.comAn extra treat for me was meeting Chef Katsuya Fukushima (in photo, at right). I had seen him on an episode of “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” and was wowed by his knowledge of “modern” cuisine. Chef Fukushima works closely with José Andrés at MiniBar in Washington D.C.

A very special THANK YOU to Bazaar Manager, Felix Meana (also in photo) for taking such good care of us. You made the day extra special.

Thanks also to William and Audra for organizing our large (table of twelve) reservation!!

All my Bazaar photos on Flickr

Mentioned above:

Sex in the City: Episode 48

Top Chef

The twins cooking

House & Garden

“The Flirtini Incident” originally published April 15, 2009

The Bazaar no longer serves brunch.

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me), Molecular Cooking