Great for other people’s kidneys, bad for my cholesterol. That’s how I’d sum up the terrific one-stop food marathon known as The Great Chefs of Los Angeles “Go Green, Go Organic” Food and Wine Benefit. The National Kidney Cancer Foundation of Southern California gets millions of dollars every year from GCLA events, so I’m glad to be able to report on it.
CBS Radford Studios was the location, the weather was warm and sunny (yes, November in LA…), over 30 chefs were presenting a wide range of dishes and I didn’t even drink the 40+ wine/beer/spirits offered. I hope they remake A Different World soon… it’s long overdue for a comeback.
I got there early,
before the crowds arrived.
I skipped the auction so I could eat, but whoever did win all that wine is gonna be happy and drunk.
I started with The Bazaar because it always draws the biggest crowd and I didn’t want to deal with it later. They presented their liquid nitrogen caipirinha, tomato and mozzarella pipets, guacamole cone, dark and white chocolate, pineapple gum drop, passion fruit marshmallow and saffron bonbons.
I still appreciate the care and attention The Bazaar brings to their food, even if it’s become one of the douchiest places in LA.
At a lot of these events the restaurants don’t bother bringing their strongest dishes, but The Bazaar had a small army behind their table making sure everything was made as you would get it at the restaurant.
Cecconi’s is another douchebag-filled restaurant that puts a lot of emphasis on style over substance. They did, however, bring truffles to the event- raising their stock in my book. Their wild mushroom and black truffle risotto was the richest dish of the day. The flavor was solid but I don’t know how someone could eat an entire plate at their restaurant.
Then the short ribs began. Perhaps it was the season (it’s supposed to be cold in November and the chefs signed on to this event back in January), but short ribs represented about half of the proteins served at the event. At 8oz, Govind Armstrong was in attendance to serve short rib grilled cheese with onion marmalade and bel paese cheese. Truffled potato chips were the side, to add color and crunch. It was one of the best dishes of the day.
Another one of my favorites came from Akasha (although she was not in attendance). Beer braised Niman Ranch short ribs on pretzel rolls served with Coleman Farms cabbage and Windrose Black Arkansas apple slaw with horseradish-celery seed dressing. Betty Kennedy’s Plum-Mustard Chutney and Bread and Butter pickles accompanied the sandwich.
There were about three hundred Drago restaurants at the event, so I’m excluding them from this post because of their overwhelming market share. Also, they had so many dishes that the good ones canceled out the bad ones and it was as if they weren’t there at all. Celestino Drago was hanging with Josie Le Balch.
He also was hanging with Jennie Garth. The guy is everywhere.
Neal Fraser continues his run at the nicest, most helpful chef in LA. He was one of the Chefs of Honor and served up Grace’s braised veal short ribs with polenta. Although the meat wasn’t the best of the day, the polenta was very good.
The other Chef of Honor was Mary Sue Milliken, who was their with her Border Grill truck.
The problem I have with Border Grill is the same I have with Loteria Grill. Both seem bland to me. La Casita Mexicana was abundantly flavorful, so that’s the bar and it’s high.
Before I go on I’d like to bring you this short commercial announcement from Sushi Popper.
Sushi Popper is your on-the-go sushi roll built on the same platform as the Push Pop.
I’m not sure which Great Chef of LA is behind the concept but they were there and not as gross as they seem. Available in super markets and grocery stores everywhere… Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.
La Grand Orange had deviled eggs and a very hearty Brussels sprout salad with young manchego, dried cranberries and simple vinaigrette. At first I was disappointed with their weak choice of dishes, but in the end it was nice to have a break from all the short ribs.
(clockwise from top left)
East served scallops on the half shell with lemongrass sambal, wasabi creme fraiche, shiso dust and micro cilantro AND Hawaiian walu with miso mustard cream, micros wasabi, chive essence and smoked chardonnay salt.
Mr. Cecil’s served big beef ribs and St Louis style ribs.
Mar’sel served braised wagyu beef cheek and creamed chard tortellini with homemade ricotta, andtiny autumn vegetables (pictured).
XIV served chilled vichyssoise with creme fraiche foam, olive oil, leeks and caviar.
Crows Pass Farm was there, as well as Saddle Peak Lodge (their grilled Nilgai antelope with cabbage, bacon, apple and black garlic was cold by the time I got there), LaLoggia and Leyna’s Kitchen with strawberry cupcakes (reminiscent of Nestle Quik strawberry milk).
This was a very well-run one-stop food marathon. Money was raised for charity and I was totally stuffed. A win win situation.