Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Afternoon With Great Chefs

I had the best time at The 23rd Annual Great Chefs of Los Angeles.
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Awesome food galore? Check.
Bountiful wine? Check.
Good cause? Check (National Kidney Foundation of Southern California).
Fabulous foodie friends? Check (CurryClaire) and check (insomniac).

I had a press pass today, but, as insomniac and CurryClaire will attest, this event was well worth attending, especially at the reduced Goldstar rate. I was very impressed by the excellent management -- ample covered parking, no lines, frequent clearing of tables, and generally a smooth and problem-free afternoon -- unlike the Gold Standard that Mr. Monkey and I attended earlier this year.

To post every single thing we tried would take too long. Here are my faves in no particular order.

Akasha Richmond's (Akasha) beer-braised Niman Ranch short ribs on a pretzel roll.
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A meaty savory sensation. This was the first thing I ate, and I still remembered it at the end of the event. Thumbs up!

Frank Leon's (La Loggia and Bokado) gazpacho andaluz, langostino kataife, and mini burger with bleu cheese.
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Wow, wow, and wow! I'd never had Chef Leon's food before, and I was completely won over. The gazpacho was refreshing and perfect for the sunny weather. The langostino kataife was a succulent dream enveloped in crunchy happiness. And the mini burger -- good God. CurryClaire and I loved it sooooo much. Juicy and amazing. I really want to try Chef Leon's restaurants now!

Govind Armstrong's (8oz. Burger Bar) short rib grilled cheese with onion marmalade and Bel Paese cheese truffled potato chips.
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Insanely scrumptious. And, yes, I'm a total chefarazzi. There's the beautiful man behind the beautiful sandwich, chatting it up with his fans.

Brian Moyers' (BLT Steak) grilled hanger steak with kabocha squash and brussel and bacon marmalade.
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Charred goodness. Luscious love at first bite.

Neal Fraser's (BLD and Grace) braised veal short ribs with polenta.
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The short ribs were delicious, but I was also enamored with the polenta.

Celestino Drago's (the entire Drago restaurant empire) duck sandwich with butternut squash soup.
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I am always a sucker for duck -- I wish the the duck-to-bread ratio had been higher This made my faves list because I appreciated the thought behind the pairing. Even in the heat, the soup was mighty tasty.

Andrea Cavaliere's (Cecconi's) wild mushroom and black truffle risotto.
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I don't like mushrooms, but I do enjoy truffles. Weird, I know. But, hey, don't you like some of your cousins more than your other cousins? When I saw that truffles were being shaved directly onto this, I said, "Yes, please!" I'm glad I did. Rich. Creamy. Dreamy.

Keven Alan Lee's (East Restaurant and Lounge) scallops on the halfshell, lemongrass sambal, wasabi crème fraîche, shiso dust, micro cilantro.
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This is sort of a cheat for me. I was so full that I couldn't shove any more food into my face, but both CurryClaire and insomniac were delighted by this. Among other things, I was told it was "awesome" and very "slurpable."

Jorge Chicas' (The Bazaar by Jose Andres) tomato mozzarella pipettes, guacamole cone, bonbons, and liquid nitrogen caipirinha.
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What can I say? I'm like a groupie for The Bazaar. Always whimsical. Always delicious. We were definitely groupies for Mr. Nitro Tattoo.

Food that didn't make my faves list but sure looked pretty.
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Wine, wine, and a little tequila.
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Yummy non-alcoholic drinks.
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Things that defy classification.
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The auction, chefs of honor, celebs, quasi-celebs, and bidders.
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My thin partners in overeating crime.
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Surprisingly, this is not CurryClaire's reaction after documenting insomniac's fierce smizing. CurryClaire was afraid of insomniac's large camera.

Finally...swag bag! Not pictured are lots and lots of schmancy coupons, including some for free haircuts at swanky salons. Woohoo!
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Special thanks to tinynancer and sinosoul for this opportunity. For more event photos than you can shake a stick at, go here. Can't wait until next year!


  1. Everything looks seriously amazing, including that goody bag!

    And I'm glad to see it looks like Marcel has toned down the hair slightly since his Top Chef days.

  2. it looks like you were in short rib heaven...mmm...

  3. I should not read your posts before lunch. I get too hungry.

  4. So Fun!! I want to go next year, please. (Would have wanted to go this year, but Jim was golfing and I had a baby shower to attend. )

  5. Sooo much fun...sooo much shortribs....sooo much food. I love how we have the exact same taste in both our favorites and our "meh" dishes!!

  6. So much fun! I was definitely glad to be there... :) Events like that make me love to be here in Los Angeles!

  7. So much fun! It kind of looks like a food heaven. Hmmmm.

  8. MF'er. I was curled up in a ball in bed while you were chefarazzing.

    So glad you made it. So glad your friends joined after you posted. Organic event outreach at its BEST.

  9. WOW. I have a hard time distinguishing your pics from the professional ones we took. Such a vibrant post. So glad you were able to join us, and hopefully we will see each other soon!

  10. So much beautiful food ... and a swag bag too! Awesome!

  11. That's a lot of good looking meat. (And I'm not just referring to Govind... )

    Glad you had such a wonderful time so that I could live vicariously through you today! :)

    P.S. Love the Udder cream from your swag bag - it's actually the only lotion I use!

  12. Looks fabulous! I totally want to go next year if Goldstar does it again.

    Did you get the swag because you had the press pass?

  13. Not just limited to "press." Swag bags for all attending!

  14. insane in the membrane. insane in the brain. this looks awesome. i esp love the action pics. nothing says i've had some wine and tequila like action pics. good call.

  15. the food is almost too pretty to eat.


  16. Woooot for you and insom, love it!

  17. Good friends, good food, good swag ... sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon!

  18. Oh geez. Now I'm starved. Next year this will be on my calender.

  19. Gorgeous photos and lovely recap! We will meet someday, mark my words.

  20. Marcel! I just watched the top chef reunion dinner--that guy is as big a loser as ever.

    But on a more positive note: Nice pics! Looks like a great time (:

  21. So good to see you! Love this post!

  22. what a great event! we'll have to keep this in mind next year to be part of that cheferazzi!


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