Modern Fusion Bites Paired With Chef Inspiration

by Tanaya Ghosh | TanayasTable.com

TEMP tempo octo

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.

TEMP tempo octopus

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.

TEMP temp pork belly

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.

TEMP tempo steak

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.

TEMP temp ice cream

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!

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VIDEO: Oscars Governors Ball Sneak Peek – In The Kitchen With Wolfgang Puck

With all the The Oscars buzz going on, I must admit something. As much as I admire all the actors’ talents for their craft, what really gets me excited is knowing what the stars will be eating after Hollywood’s biggest night.

That’s why when Wolfgang Puck invited me in for a very special behind-the-scenes look at his incredible catering operation from the prep kitchens at Hollywood & Highland, I was over the moon.

Upon getting our exclusive credentials, we got our very own Press Guide to take us through The 88th Oscars construction and setup to get to Wolfgang Puck Catering’s massive prep kitchen. As soon as the doors opened and I peeked in, I saw a virtually endless array of edible art, in the form of brightly colored hors-d’oeuvres, dishes and desserts. Check out the video for some colorful glimpses!

When I arrived, Chef Wolfgang’s all-star team was working away diligently on filling thousands of fresh artichoke-truffle agnolotti pasta, spraying 24-karat gold onto intricate, mini chocolate replicas of the Oscar statuette, and so much more. It really was a well-oiled machine, with meticulous care put into every detail.

Tanaya's Table Wolfgang Puck Oscars Gold Chocolate

After wandering around and chatting with the chefs, we gathered around the one and only Chef Wolfgang Puck for a very warm, intimate cooking demonstration from the legend himself. Despite his renowned stature, he spoke with us as if he knew us personally, like he was cooking for us out of his own kitchen.

As he told stories of how his children help him in the kitchen, and which famous friends of his like which types of his dishes, he cooked up a shrimp, crab and scallop dish with a flavorful Chinese sauce. Check out the video for a shot of him flambée-ing!

Some of the cool tidbits I learned through conversation with him include the fact that although Wolfgang enjoys food with bold flavors, he understands that there are many guests at these large-scale events who still enjoy his truffle chicken pot pie, baked mac and cheese, and other comfort classics. Thus, he makes sure to include something for every palate in the 50+ items he creates for the Governors Ball, which he’s catered for the past 22 years!

Wolfgang also mentioned that not as many celebrities have gone vegan or gluten-free as one might think (although he does have options of each on the vast menu). He explained that after weeks of not eating too much in order to prepare for the awards show, “They tell me, ‘Wolfgang, give me all the food!'”

Tanaya's Table Wolfgang Puck Oscars Caviar

Included among “all the food” will be mini crispy bibimbap, a poke bar, stone crab claws and oysters at the seafood bar, baked potatoes with caviar (pictured), white grape and almond gazpacho, and wagyu short rib. Talk about edible opulence!

Now, if you know me, you know my sweet tooth jumped for joy when I saw the mini setup of the Chocolate Buffet they’ll have at the Governors Ball. Among the 30+ types of desserts to be served, a few include: Caramel-filled Oscars statuette lollipops, a macaron tower, sweet tacos with pistachio lady fingers and market cherries, mini yuzu tarts, chocolate peanut butter ring dings, raspberry panna cotta with champagne caviar, and lemon meringue tart lollipops. There really will be something for everyone, from celebs who prefer familiar classics, to those who enjoy a little extra elegance and flair!

Tanaya's Table Wolfgang Puck Oscars Desserts

I also learned that Wolfgang Puck also caters international awards shows all over the world! I love that when we asked how he chooses the menu for each prestigious event, he said he chooses based on what’s seasonal, local, and what his carefully curated suppliers have available for him.

Even for The Oscars, the team has been going on multiple trips to the local farmer’s market, and has sourced ingredients from local farms, orchards, dairies and ranches.

To give you an idea of the scale of the operation (of which you can start to get an idea through the video), The Oscars Governors Ball will have 1500 guests, with a whopping 950 staff to cater to their wants and needs. The culinary staff consists of 350 talented people. To name a few ingredients, they will be working with 10 kilos of American farm-raised caviar and 350 pounds of Atlantic Bigeye tuna.

Heck, there will even be 15 pounds of winter black truffles straight from Burgundy, France and 300 pounds of Snake River Wagyu short rib. There will also be 6,500 wood-fired, Oscar-shaped  flatbread!

As for dessert, 3o pounds of edible real gold dust will be used, as well as 100,000 pieces of dark chocolate Couverture pistoles and 2400 bottles of Piper Heidsieck champagne. The coolest part is that there are 3,000 custom Oscar boxes to house the infamous gold-covered chocolates, and Wolfgang Puck personally handed me one as a parting gift! Guess there’s only 2,999 of them left now!

Tanaya's Table Wolfgang Puck Oscars Me

Thanks to Chef Wolfgang Puck and his catering team for a special behind-the-scenes experience I’ll never forget… and for handing me this 24-karat gold covered, solid chocolate Oscar statuette!

If you’re hosting an Oscars watch party, check out some of the recipes you can make, straight from Wolfgang Puck… that way, you’ll be dining like the stars during Hollywood’s biggest night! Check out the recipes on the Wolfgang Puck Catering official page.

This year more than ever, I will be immersed in all things Oscars… especially because I’m grateful to have gotten a taste of what the stars will be gorging on after the show ends. 😉 Cheers!

 

Inside The All-Star Chef Classic: American Masters Dinner

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - Wine Glass Logo

Last night, the All-Star Chef Classic turned the L.A. Live event deck in downtown Los Angeles into an epic restaurant stadium. Thanks to Tastemade, who sent me to cover the event, I got to experience the exquisite five-course dinner menu for myself!

I was planning on going to my regular MMA kickboxing class, up until a few minutes before I was about to leave for the gym. Then, I found myself quickly getting ready for a fancy fine dining event and rushing to downtown L.A. for a night to remember! I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

Not only did we witness live demos from five of the immensely talented top chefs in America, but I also got a chance to speak with them about their food! It was a memorable evening, for sure:

Sitting in the restaurant stadium is an amazing feeling. It feels larger-than-life but also has an intimate vibe, as there aren’t a ton of rows so that no one feels too far from the action. Everyone in that room had one thing in common: we are all passionate about high caliber food.

Each of our five courses were paired with wines, and each plate looked so pretty I had to admire it (and pay homage by taking lots of photos and videos!) for a considerable amount of time before taking a bite. Hey, I was just doing my job! 😉

A breakdown of what was served:

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 1 Santa Barbara Spot Prawns Michael Cimarusti

First course, by Michael Cimarusti of Providence

Santa Barbara spot prawns roasted in salted butter, with citrus and nori. Paired with a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.

Having recently developed a very slight (and majorly unfortunate) allergy to crustaceans, I was unable to taste the prawns, but the accompaniments were delicious… and the noises my fellow dining companions made after eating this course gave me reason to believe that this dish was every bit as good as it looked.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 2 Daniel Patterson Coi San Francisco Vegetables

Second course, by Daniel Patterson of Coi Restaurant

Spring vegetables in a honey-lemon broth, with herbs and flowers. Paired with a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.

It was indeed “springtime on a plate,” as the San Francisco chef described his own dish. The herbs and the honey-lemon broth brought this delicate dish together. Hooray for healthy, pretty food!

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 3 Nancy Silverton Roasted Cumin Carrots

Third course, by Nancy Silverton (always one of my favorite chefs to talk with!) of Mozza

Roasted carrots with ceci and cumin vinaigrette. Paired with a 2012 Pinot Noir.

The warm notes from the cumin and the perfectly roasted carrots gave such great flavor and texture… and the yogurt on top brought a cooling element and balanced the entire hearty vegetarian masterpiece.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 4 Lamb Loin Black Garlic Wylie Dufresne

Fourth course by Wylie Dufresne of Alder, and previously WD~50

Lamb loin with black garlic romesco, pickled ramps and dried soybean. Paired with a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The lamb was perfectly succulent, the ramps added some acidity, and the black garlic romesco gave the entire dish such a deep, rich umami flavor. Holy moly.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - 5 Miso Butterscotch Apple Pie Christina Tosi Momofuku

Fifth course, by Christina Tosi of NYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar

Apple pie cake with miso butterscotch, sour whipped cream and pie crumble. Paired with a 2012 Moscato… & (unofficially) Stella Cidre.

Oh man, where to start. The cake was moist, with the crumble adding the perfect crunch. The miso added more savory umami, and complemented the flavor of the apples so well. The sour whipped cream brought it home with a delicious tanginess to balance the sweetness of the cake. This is what dreams are made of, people.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

Petit Fours by Christina Tosi

Momofuku’s famous “Crack Pie”

We ordered a full-size pie (yes, I had it shipped!) from NYC a few years ago, and it was pretty incredible. This was a nice bite-size version, but I do wish it had more of the addictive filling. Oh Christina, how you always leave us craving more and more! With how good her desserts are, no amount will ever be enough, I think.

Tanayas Table All Star Chef Classic - Red Carpet 2

Moral of the story: Not that I’m saying to always choose eating over working out, but when the right opportunity presents itself, being a little spontaneous and saying “yes” more than “no” can truly do wonders for how much you get out of life. Trust me on this!

Find out about upcoming All-Star Chef Classic events this weekend by visiting the official site. You can join Tastemade and follow me here. Cheers!

 

VIDEO: Celebrity Chefs + Highlights from LA Weekly’s “The Essentials”

Tanayas Table LA Weekly The Essentials Logo Wine

Where do you go to interview top-tier LA chefs of celebrity status, all in the same room? How about the likes of Curtis Stone, Roy Choi, Michael Voltaggio and Sang Yoon?

Well, this past weekend, LA Weekly hosted The Essentials, an annual food event produced in honor of the recently unveiled 99 Essential LA Restaurants list. This is where I got to chat with all of the aforementioned immensely talented chefs!

Check it out here, along with some of the amazing bites offered by 50 of the 99 restaurants honored on the list:

Here are some of the highlights from what we tried at the event:

Roy Choi’s Kogi served its classic short rib tacos, while Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio of Ink served a bagels & lox-inspired dish featuring rye pasta with smoked trout roe, bagel crumbs and dashi brown butter.

Michael Voltaggio of Ink served up a pasta play on bagels & lox

Michael Voltaggio of Ink served up a pasta play on bagels & lox

Plan Check served their famous (and heavenly!) cruller donut holes with caramelized goat cheese, coconut sugar, almond sauce, white chocolate and candied rosemary.

Plan Check's all-star cruller donut with candied rosemary, caramelized goat cheese

Plan Check’s all-star cruller donut with candied rosemary, caramelized goat cheese

This little ball of rich complexity was definitely one of my ultimate favorite bites, as the donuts were crispy on the outside and light, airy and slightly custardy on the inside. The caramelized goat cheese was the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and the candied rosemary added the right amount of aromatic essence.

A savory favorite of mine had to be Little Sister’s banh hoi with chili braised beef shank and tendon, herbs, sprouts and fried peanuts. Great balance of hot and cold, sweet and salty, and the perfect amount of heat and acid.

Little Sister's banh hoi getting some finishing touches

Little Sister’s banh hoi getting some finishing touches

Alimento’s escolar crudo was also excellent, plated with eggplant, wild fennel and mollica. The succulent yet firm white fish absolutely melted in the mouth along with its Mediterranean-inspired components. It was a very cohesive plate indeed, with deep flavors.

One last donut that stood out was Hinoki & The Bird’s miso donut with honey caramel. It was a perfect umami and sweet combination in one fluffy bite!

Spago served an interesting “Vietnamese style banh mi” with pork belly, but somehow it didn’t taste as good as it looked for me. Still, it was pretty to look at, with all its brightly colored veggies.

Spago's take on the banh mi

Spago’s take on the banh mi

Tar & Roses’ steak tartare was delectable, as was its popcorn with bacon, brown sugar and aleppo pepper. Petit Trois also served a steak tartare, while Park’s BBQ served the flavors of Korean BBQ in one bite. There was also some great Ethiopian food, and a lot of deep-flavored moles served at the event.

Korean BBQ in one bite, by Park's BBQ

Korean BBQ in one bite, by Park’s BBQ

I only heard that chef Curtis Stone of Maude’s white asparagus pain perdu with foie gras mousse, pickled pearl onions & mustard seed was amazing, since we didn’t get to try before they ran out. Still, he talks to us about it in the video above… which kind of makes up for it!

Here’s Roy Choi cracking jokes and plugging Kogi, by the way:

Joking around with Roy Choi

Instagram video: Joking around with Roy Choi

Szechuan Impression’s spicy noodles were hot and flavorful, and had just the right bite. The variety of food, from authentic international street fare to refined European-inspired dishes was a pretty accurate reflection of so much that LA has to offer.

Spicy noodles by Szechuan Impression

Spicy noodles by Szechuan Impression

Although they didn’t exhibit at the event, I was pretty proud to learn that Surati Farsan Mart was recognized as one of the 99 Essential Restaurants!

Wine, cocktails and spirits also flowed at the event, and there was even vodka made from sweet potatoes. Oh, and how could I forget shouting out Philippe The Original and their OG French dip sandwich? There was so much food and drink to try, such little time!

The original French dip by Philippe The Original

The original French dip by Philippe The Original

I do wish some of the fine dining restaurants hadn’t run out by the time we got to them, but overall we definitely left stuffed and satiated with some of the most essential bites LA has to offer.

It was a good time talking food with some very well-respected chefs, as well.

Roy Choi & Tanaya's Table talking food

Cheers from Roy Choi & Tanaya’s Table… peace out!

Check out the full list of stellar vendors here. Until next time, cheers!

VIDEO: Inside Koala Tapioca, Westwood’s Newest Eatery + Boba Spot

TT Koala Tapioca Jasmine Sea Salt Green Tea Boba

The Taiwanese-Vietnamese fusion café concept that started as a food truck just opened in brick and mortar form, right in Westwood.

I decided to take my fellow Bruin friend Anshu along with me to our old stomping grounds to check out the media preview event for the new joint, Koala Tapioca.

Looking back on our four years at UCLA (and plenty of excursions in Westwood), it’s crazy to think how much has changed in the area. However, with the addition of Koala Tapioca to the Westwood Village scene, it’s safe to say that this place is a valuable addition.

Check out the one-minute video for the inside scoop (and sip!) on the hottest new cafe in Westwood.

Check out the one-minute video for the inside scoop (and sip!) on the hottest new cafe in Westwood.

Koala Tapioca was founded by recent UCLA graduates David and Vincent, who had a solid business strategy coming straight out of college.

While their brick and mortar location was in the works with construction and permits, the duo used that time to get a food truck going to do some market testing with their product.

TT Koala Tapioca  Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn Chicken with Fried Sweet Basil

They perfected their food with low overhead costs, while also building a solid social media following in the meantime.

The truck, previously called Koala Tea, was a hit… and now they’re ready to open their doors, with great momentum behind them in the form of loyal foodie fans and Twitter followers.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi

Koala Tapioca offers a variety of unique and traditional coffee and tea drinks (with boba, if you’d like!) as well as Taiwanese and Vietnamese food. The fact that they have free Wi-Fi and board games is just the cherry on top! All I can say is I wish we had this place when I was at UCLA.

Check out the video above for a peek at the tasty snacks and drinks that this awesome little spot in the heart of Westwood has to offer.

TT Koala Tapioca  Snacks Drinks Spread

You can find more information on visiting Koala Tapioca here. Stay tuned for a Dine LA Restaurant Week new opening post coming soon. Cheers 🙂