So much food, under the sun: Great Chefs of Los Angeles

Produce from Crows Pass Farm

Produce from Crows Pass Farm

I spent yesterday afternoon on the CBS lot in Studio City, eating and drinking my way through more than 30 of Los Angeles’ chefs’ food at the 23rd annual Great Chefs of Los Angeles event, which benefited the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. OK, I didn’t taste everything — I’m not a black hole of food — but I did taste a lot of good stuff.

BLVD 16‘s Simon Dolinky made butternut squash dumplings with mustard greens, pomegranate and brown butter. I like the food at BLVD 16 at the Hotel Palomar, so it’s no wonder that I enjoyed this dish, too. Topped with bacon bits, the crunchiness contrasted well with the doughy dumplings, and the greens were flavorful without being overpowering.


Akasha‘s short rib on pretzel bread with a side of cole slaw and pickle. The pretzel bread (I love pretzel bread!) soaked up the short rib’s tasty juices, making it all even better. The slaw had a spicy kick to it, and wasn’t creamy, which I prefer.


Bonadea, a Los Angeles-based company that makes bottled aguas frescas. I tried the jamaica flavor, which has nothing to do with the island country and everything to do with hibiscus. Its flavor was light, and a little sweet and a little tart. There was also a tamarind flavor, which I initially passed on because I don’t like tamarind, but after tasting a sip, I found it more peachy than tamarindy. Yeah, that’s not a word.


Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD fame made braised veal short rib with polenta that tasted just like a Chinese dish my mom makes. That’s because the polenta was cooked with chestnuts — yum!


Bottega Louie‘s panini with brie, blood orange and watercress, and a salad with roasted grape tomatoes, burata and pesto were light and refreshing, which was welcome since a lot of what was being offered at the event was heavy as this is technically fall.


Celestino Drago’s duck sandwich and butternut squash soup were also good, though I liked the sandwich more than the soup, which I didn’t find all that impressive.


Ford’s Filling Station‘s Ben Ford made a persimmon salad with goat cheese, candied pecans and a sherry vinaigrette. Beautiful and tasty. I’m obsessed with persimmons, and I wanted to ask Ford for a plate of just fruit, but that probably wouldn’t have gone over well.


Chef Ben Ford mixing up some salad


Yes, the Bazaar of the SLS Hotel was there, and yes, it served some pretty and fun stuff, including the liquid nitrogen-frozen caipirinha. It was really, really strong, but eating it with that sage on top was pretty amazing.


Keven Alan Lee’s East served up a scallop on the half shell with lemongrass sambal, wasabi creme fraiche, shiso dust and micro cilantro, as well as Hawaiian walu fish with miso mustard cream, micro wasabi, chive essence and smoked chardonnay sea salt. Many people liked this, especially the scallop, and I did too, but probably not as much as everyone else.


Scallops on the half shell


Hawaiian walu

Michael Fiorelli of Mar’Sel at Terranea Resort made braised wagyu beef cheek and creamed chard tortellini with ricotta and tiny autumn vegetables. The tortellini I could take or leave, but the beef was wonderfully tender, and the mini veggies were so cute — perfectly cooked, too.



And now for something completely different…I give you Sushi Popper! Is it sushi? Is it a push-up? Is it a sushi push-up? It is! I tried the seared albacore with smoked banana and a mild habanero sauce. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t good.



Esther of e*starLA popping a Sushi Popper

All in all, this was a really enjoyable event, despite the hot sun. I do have a gripe, though: The event’s theme was “Go Green, Go Organic,” yet there were all kinds of green violations. Sure, everyone used eco-friendly plates and utensils, but what’s with the bottled water? And the plastic cups? And the unnecessary packaging of the Sushi Poppers? Something to think about for next year…

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Maya Meinert

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11 2009

3 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Mini veggies should always just be described as “so cute”. Although, I once asked on Twitter if people like baby corn and there were a lot of haters.
    Great wrap-up and it was so good to see you

  2. Maya Meinert #

    I’m kind of obsessed with mini foods, so those veggies were right up my alley!

  3. 3

    Mmm… the food looks tasty, especially Akasha and Bottega Louie.


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