Modern Fusion Bites Paired With Chef Inspiration

by Tanaya Ghosh | TanayasTable.com

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Marinated Grilled Octopus (all photos by Tanaya Ghosh)

These days, the novelty and excitement when the words “modern American” and “fusion food” come to mind have pretty much worn off, at least compared to a few years ago. However, let me tell you about a great spot in Brea, CA doing something very different from your average New American restaurant. Something that’s worth getting excited about again.

Tempo Urban Kitchen does New American fusion food on shareable plates, using modern techniques and interesting flavor combinations. At the Gigasavvy Social Club dinner, we enjoyed a tasting menu of memorable bites prepared for us by accomplished Chefs Chris Tzorin, Charlie Medina & Salvador Carrillo, all age 30 and under.

Chef Chris Tzorin, a recent winner of Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, is a friend of mine whose story inspires me and many others to keep striving for success, despite the cards you are dealt in life.

Chef Chris grew up in the fine dining industry, as his dad was a chef. “My dad would cook at home, my mom too, and we would sit together at the table and talk about how the week was together as a family,” he reminisced.

“My dad always told me I’d be better than him one day, and now I tell Armani (his young son) the same thing, so he can take it to the next level when he grows up. He hangs out with me in the kitchen.” Indeed, Armani was right there with his dad that night at the tasting, wearing his own little personalized chef’s coat!

However, when the accomplished chef lost his other son, Chris, it changed him forever. He teared up as he spoke of little Chris, and said that after going through such a dark and trying time, “That’s why you hardly see me upset. Life could be so much worse. I want to be able to experience a lot in life, and meet as many people (as I can) and inspire them.”

I suppose I especially wanted to share Chef Chris’s story because I see a lot of myself in the way he’s grown from his personal tragedies, and how he’s transformed it into something that drives him every day to do the most with the life he’s been given. And although the two losses are not comparable, as no two losses are, I share a similar outlook on life after losing my best friend, my mother, much too early. Chef Chris’s story inspires me, as I hope it will inspire many of you, to always keep pushing forward with the best attitude possible, to accomplish great things.

Chef Chris explained that it was his two boys for whom he brought his A game to win Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network. “(After) two divorces and losing a child, after all the things I’ve been through… the blood, pain and tears, I’m still here.” And thank goodness, since he not only inspires people now, but makes amazing food in the kitchen, day in and day out.

Now that Chef Chris’s expansive career has led him to Tempo Urban Kitchen, he says he’s open to learning some newer techniques from the two younger chefs, Chef Salvador & Chef Charlie, who are big on molecular gastronomy.

“Here, we’re bringing more urban-style, outside-the-box food. Some will say, ‘No, you’re not supposed to do that,’ I’m gonna do it anyway…. I just want people to recognize me for who I am, and why I cook. It’s my life on a plate,” he concluded.

And with that, here’s what Chef Chris, Chef Charlie and Chef Salvador created for us at the coursed dinner:

Upon arrival, after a tour of the kitchen, we took a seat with fellow influencers who were also invited to this delightful dining experience. We started off with an Old Fashioned and a refreshing Mango Serrano Margarita with a Tajin rim.

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Then, it was time to eat! The first course was Marinated Grilled Octopus, made by Chef Chris Tzorin. The octopus was plated on a wooden plank, as were all the dishes. The menu items are meant to be shared, to encourage more social interaction at the table, as Chef Chris explained. The tender, charred octopus was served with guajillo chili oil, creamy serrano chili sauce, lime cream and chipotle mayo, along with a garnish of fresh microgreens. All the different sauces made for a customized experience, as we could choose which bit of sauce to dip our octopus into.

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Next up was a Korean-inspired, succulent Slow Roasted Pork Belly by Chef Charlie Medina. The soy lime glaze imparted a great tangy, savory flavor, and the tortilla puree it rested on was a unique element that brought the dish together as a “deconstructed Korean taco,” as Chef Charlie described it. The red cabbage kimchi and crema sauce completed the dish, along with a thin slice of rolled mango for a bit of sweet freshness. What made the pork extra juicy was its slow cooking in a traditional Caja China roasting box.

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Our last savory dish was the Slow-Cooked Short Rib by Chef Salvador Carrillo. This brightly colored dish was created with yellow mustard seeds (what they called “vegan caviar”), pickled carrots wrapped in thin New York-style ham, and a bold brush of beet sauce across the plate. When Chef Salvador said “slow-cooked,” he really meant slow, as the cooking of the short rib for 28 hours made it extra tender.

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After the drinks and three shared protein dishes, a cart rolled out for tableside ice cream! We watched in anticipation as the ice cream fully froze right before our eyes. Minutes later, as wisps of liquid nitrogen lifted, vanilla ginger ice cream emerged! The liquid nitrogen technique made the ice cream extra creamy in texture, and the mini cones they rested in gave a great crunch to the dessert. What a fun way to end a great dining experience!

Thanks to Tempo Urban Kitchen and Gigasavvy Social Club for having us. Go here for more information on visiting for a unique and memorable dining experience!

Until next time, let’s connect on social media!

Instagram: @tanayas.table

Twitter: @TanayasTable

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Cheers!

VIDEO: Let’s Make Sushi!

Tanayas Table Sushi

The delicious sushi we made in class. Yup, that sushi flower is my creation!😉

 

It had been a while since my friend Dani gave me a lesson in sushi making, so when I had the opportunity to take a class with Chef Eric Crowley of Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom in West LA, I was excited to get an official refresher and learn some new techniques along the way!

A major key to sushi success is making sure the rice is perfect. Flavoring it with kombu (edible kelp that imparts an umami flavor), fanning it out for the perfect stickiness level, and flavoring it with rice vinegar are a few tips to keep in mind.

We also learned to cut the fresh fish against the muscle fibers to maximize the delicate, soft textures, and how to roll the sushi in mats, forming tight and perfect little circles of deliciousness. The video below has Chef Eric teaching me the ways!

Chef Eric was patient and informative, and helped us all out in a hands-on manner during the class so we could get the most out of it. We toasted the nori (seaweed sheets) over the stove flame to allow for crispiness, and gleaned other helpful hints along the way… all culminating in the ultimate sushi party, where we made and enjoyed nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls.

We got creative, cutting and adding different fish (yellowtail, salmon and tuna being a few options) and other fillings (avocado, sprouts, fish roe, carrots, cucumbers and more) to customize our rolls. I decided to get artsy and made the flower in this video:

Chef Eric and his team are so friendly and welcoming that I’d definitely recommend trying out his class if you’re a sushi fan, or just love learning new skills in the kitchen. Heads up: the next sushi class will be on Friday, 4/29!

If you’re interested in learning how to make your own sushi, or want to take your pick from array of other classes offered (knife skills, grilling, wine pairing, professional programs, 4, 10 and 18-week cooking series and more!) sign up at Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom. Happy cooking!❤

SNEAK PEEK: Dodgers Home Opener NEW Eats

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Growing up in SoCal in a sports-loving household, you bet I was excited when the Los Angeles Dodgers invited me back again this year for a private media preview and exclusive, in-depth tour of Dodger Stadium!

Thanks to Steve Brener, Yvonne Carrasco, Jon Weisman and Daisuke Sugiura of the Dodgers Communications Department, we got a chance to get a first taste of the new stadium offerings. I had an especially great time with my foodie friends Kristie Hang (to whom credit goes for the Boomerang video above of my bobblehead buddy and me) and Chef Jay.

The tour was incredible (I Snapchatted it all at MsTanayaG… follow along for future access!), as we got a behind-the-scenes look at everything from the Commissioner’s (championship) Trophies and Golden Glove Awards, to the actual Dodgers dugout and field, the press box, and the old Dodgers clubhouse, which MLB legends of visiting teams have used during seasons past.

FUN FACT: The Dodgers jacket I’m wearing belonged to my great aunt, who was a dedicated Dodgers fan and wore this very jacket to the final 1988 World Series Championship game, which the Dodgers won!

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Before our stadium tour, we got to taste the food and chat with Dodger Stadium Executive Chef Jason Tingley, who did an awesome job not only creating the new bites, but also explaining them to us all.

Today is the home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and here are some new bites you can expect to track down, whether you’re going to the game today or plan on visiting Dodger Stadium anytime this season:

King’s Hawaiian Dog (pictured above): All-beef quarter pound dog topped with pineapple salsa, on a King’s Hawaiian bun // Where to find it: Extreme Loaded Dogs

Gouda Kobe Burger: 1/3 lb. premium Wagyu burger topped with caramelized onions, pickles & Thousand Island dressing // Where to find it: Elysian Park Grill

Chicken Verde Sandwich: Chicken breast on Telera bread with jalapeno aioli, lettuce, tomato & tomatillo verde sauce // Where to find it: Healthy Cart, Marketplace, Tony’s Stand

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Shock Top Bratwurst: Pork bratwurst sausage link infused with Shock Top beer, served on a buttery grilled lobster roll with caramelized onions & spicy brown mustard // As Chef Tingley explained, “It is made with Shock Top beer and comes two different ways: There’s going to be a spicy and a regular bratwurst.” // Where to find it: Think Blue BBQ

Specialty Nachos Verde: Crispy tortilla chips with tomatillo verde sauce, pickled jalapenos, fresco cotija queso // Where to find it: TBD

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Smoked BBQ Wings Bundle: 15 smoked chicken wings tossed in BBQ sauce, served with fries, veggie sticks and two soft drinks // Where to find it: Think Blue BBQ

I really liked the Nachos Verde and the King’s Hawaiian Dog the best, but the wings were definitely finger-licking good as well!

Also, here’s a video from last year’s media preview as a little Throwback Tuesday!😉

In addition to subscribing to my blog and YouTube channel, feel free follow me on Snapchat: MsTanayaG to get realtime behind-the-scenes scoop on stadium tours, chef interviews, new restaurant sneak peeks, inside food influencer events and more… and connect with me on Instagram (@tanayas.table) to get the scoop on all the newest and hottest places to go and what to try!

And now, as Vin Scully is about to say, “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”

Palm Desert Food & Wine GIVEAWAY + Crab Cakes With SideChef & Cat Cora

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Crab and Avocado Sandwiches with Mango Coulis

 

When the Palm Desert Food & Wine asked to pair me up with one of five headlining chefs doing demos at the festival to re-create their recipe using the SideChef app, I was very curious as to whom they would pair me with. When I got Cat Cora, I was ecstatic!

Not only is she insanely talented in the kitchen, but she was the first female Iron Chef on Iron Chef America. That’s definitely someone to look up to, as a female culinary enthusiast!

I was anxious to see what recipe I would be making, and boy was I shocked when I got a huge bag of Whole Foods ingredients, hand delivered fresh to my doorstep thanks to SideChef. When I peeked into the bag (while Snapchatting it all live at MsTanayaG), I was definitely surprised, in both a good way and a kind of sad way initially. You see, it was all the ingredients for Cat Cora’s Crab and Avocado Sandwiches with Mango Coulis.

SideChef Ingredients Cat Cora

While that sounds pretty incredible, the only problem was that I wouldn’t be able to taste any of it! You see, a few years back, I developed a slight (and VERY unfortunate) allergy to crustaceans, including crab! Quite the ironic bummer, right?

Still, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to work with an ingredient I normally wouldn’t choose to cook, for obvious reasons. So I got prepping, and followed the super simple step-by-step instructions with crisp visuals and audio cues on the SideChef app to create the full dish with all three components!

Here’s a quick video of some of the steps that went into making the dish:

In the end, I had essentially created a slider made with warm, crispy crab cake buns, cool, refreshing avocado salsa, and a tangy-sweet mango coulis to bring it all together. I can only imagine how it all tasted together (I definitely tried the avocado salsa & mango coulis!), but according to my family for whom I cooked the meal, it turned out “incredibly delicious!”

What I love just as much as eating, is making something with my own hands to feed the people I love. So that worked out well, allergy or not! Also, shoutout to Cat Cora for sharing this post with her awesome followers… I hope I did your recipe justice!😉

So what’s the deal with the giveaway, you ask? Well, I’m giving away TWO PAIRS of tickets to the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival happening all of next weekend! AND, the grand prize winner will receive VIP tickets! To win, do ONE or BOTH of the following by 11:59 p.m. PST tonight:

  1. Follow @tanayas.table on Instagram and tag 3 friends in the comments of my crab cake slider photo.
  2. Subscribe to my Nom channel at Nom.com/TanayasTable and pop in to say hi on my live show tonight from Hollywood at 7:30 p.m. PST! It’s interactive, so you can ask us questions and more.:)

Winners will be announced tomorrow on those platforms! GOOD LUCK!!

For the full recipe to make these crab cakes at home, download the SideChef app. They’re celebrating a whopping 1 million meals made through the app by donating 1,000 meals to charity… and they will donate 3,000 if they make it into the top 10 in the app store! So let’s make it happen to feed more people who really need it, guys.

If you do make this recipe by Cat Cora through SideChef, please do let me know how they turn out for you! Big thank you to PDFW, SideChef and Iron Chef Cat Cora for the fun collaboration.

Until next time, cheers!❤

VIDEO: Sneak Peek At Knott’s Boysenberry Festival

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You know the main reason I was so excited to attend the Knott’s Berry Farm media preview a couple days ago? It’s because I pass it on my way to the gym EVERY DAY. Well, every day I go to the gym, that is😉.

Although I really love my MMA kickboxing class, every time I pass by Knott’s I kind of secretly wish I were going there instead. I mean, who wouldn’t pick a theme park over the gym, right? What a tease.

I was also excited because I LOVE boysenberry, and I geek out over creative ways to incorporate a particular ingredient into a variety of sweet and savory dishes. The chefs at Knott’s executed that concept very well, with over 70 boysenberry-infused bites of theme park gastronomical glee. Here’s a glimpse into some of the bites you can expect to have, along with more below:

So yes, that Fun Bun is indeed a gigantic cinnamon roll dipped in funnel cake batter and deep fried… then slathered in boysenberry cream cheese! It was absolutely gooey and delicious on the inside, with a nice tanginess to the cream smothered on the outside. I highly recommend getting one and sharing… or not!

Whether you love roller coaster thrills or not, if you’re a foodie thrill-seeker you’ll appreciate the crispy alligator bites with a creamy boysenberry aioli to dip your reptile nuggets into. Check them out in the video, and shoutout to my buddy Nick of @grubfiend for being my alligator hand model and dropping some funnel cake “knowledge” in there.

I decided to try the gator bites on Snapchat (find me at TanayasTable) with a couple of my foodie friends, Yohana of @foodnvibes and Naomi of @xodaydreamers, with Brenda filming! The conclusion we came to is that it does taste like chicken, but it has a chewier texture. So I suppose you could say it tastes like if a chicken and a squid had a baby… and then you ate that baby?! Ah, never mind! Well you know what I mean, right?😉

Other bites we tried (ALL in the video above) include boysenberry BBQ short ribs, boysenberry BBQ meatballs on a stick, pulled pork sandwich with boysenberry bread & BBQ sauce, and the Fun Stick… which is a slice of creamy boysenberry cheesecake on a stick, dipped in funnel cake batter and slathered with boysenberry sauce. SO GOOD!

Tanayas Table Knotts Boysenberry Cheesecake

Meet the Fun Stick: Funnel-cake battered boysenberry cheesecake on a stick. How adorable is that Snoopy topiary in the back??

In addition to food, we also got to taste boysenberry beer, wine and other libations. If you decide to go, please let me know what you think of all the berry-infused drinks and bites. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Not only did I have a blast photographing, filming and tasting all the boysenberry things, but I enjoyed doing all of the above with my foodie friends.

To find out more and to attend the Boysenberry Festival this year,  go here. Wishing you a *berry* wonderful spring season… ha ha. Stay tuned for lots more food adventures to come!

Cheers!❤