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: 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! ❤

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

TEMP Crab Cakes

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! ❤

Behind The Scenes At The GRAMMYs Gift Lounge

When you think of the perks of stardom, you really have no idea just how many mindblowing treats they get… especially when they’re performing or presenting at the GRAMMY Awards®.

Having been invited to get an insider tour of the 58th Annual GRAMMY® Gift Lounge, I’m happy to give you a little taste of what it’s like to be pampered for your musical talents (or journalistic talents, in my case… ha ha).

Over the course of GRAMMY weekend, presenters and performers such as Adele, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Sam Hunt, Carrie Underwood, The Weeknd, Lionel Richie, Johnny Depp and Little Big Town experienced the interactive lounge in which they received thank you gifts in acknowledgment of their participation in “Music’s Biggest Night.”

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY LL Cool J WireImage

Rapper LL Cool J eyeing those chocolates (WireImage)

The day I visited the cushy lounge set up next to Staples Center (where the GRAMMYs would be held) a couple days before the awards show, tons of talent like 5-time host LL Cool J, Diplo and Bow Wow also dropped by to check out the goods curated by Lash Fary and Distinctive Assets.

The LA-based entertainment marketing company is known for starting the celebrity swag bag craze 16 years ago, so I guess we have them to thank in part for the ironic concept that the more rich and famous you get, the more free stuff you get. I mean, each gift bag was apparently worth a whopping $22,000 with all the curated goodies inside!

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY Bow Wow Diplo WireImage

Musical artists Bow Wow and Diplo (WireImage)

So without further ado, I present you with the scoop on some of the coolest toys, tools and treats I found inside the exclusive star-studded GRAMMYs gift lounge:

Tools By Gina – Pure infrared professional blow dryers and flat irons from hair expert Gina Rivera. The infrared technology is the first of its kind, steaming the hair instead of applying direct heat, thus restoring natural shine.

Phillip Ashley Chocolates’ Luxe Collection – Chocolate covered caramels infused with Louis XIII cognac, with each piece weighing 30 grams and hand-gilded with 23k gold leaf. It costs $3,000 for one seven-piece box, making it one of the top ten most expensive chocolates in the world. Insane, right?

Tanayas Table GRAMMY Chocolate Gold Louis XIII

Louis XIII Cognac-infused, 23k gold leaf $3,000 chocolates

FitClubTV: Live in Fitness retreat + Fit Culture Threads designer workout apparel + Fit Culture Fuel health & performance supplements – Loved the passion behind all of these lines geared towards fitness, and especially loved that they’re giving back with a ton of free workout videos and more with the launch of FitClubTV.

Tanayas Table GRAMMY Hat

Loved this Flos Floris snapback hat

Flos Floris snapback hats from Milan, Italy – Universal appeal, cool design, comfy to wear. What more can you ask for?

Tanayas Table GRAMMY Drink

The Price of Love cocktail

Custom cocktails & mixology from The Natural Mixologist – I really liked The Price of Love cocktail made with Penthouse The Scarlet Sparkling Shiraz, organic orange elixir, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and orange liqueur. I especially loved that it was garnished with tiny heart-shaped rose petals.

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY LL Cool J Drink WireImage

LL Cool J sipping the cocktails I just tried! (WireImage)

NOON VR headsets – Loved the realistic smooth-panning, 360-degree visuals!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2016

Trying out NOON Virtual Reality

SCUF Gaming Infinity 1 professional customized controllers and accessories – Gamers will geek out over how insanely customizable and comfortable these controllers are. I personally loved the red and black one! Check out all the specs if you’re into gaming.

SIS by Simone I. Smith jewelry – Created by LL Cool J’s wife after she won the battle with cancer, she started this line in partnership with the American Cancer Society. Find out more on these adorable candy-esque trinkets for a good cause here.

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY Candy Jewelry

Candy SIS by Simone I. Smith jewelry to help fight cancer (WireImage)

truth x Vans by Kevin Lyons one-of-a-kind sneakers that encourage everyone to use their voices and creativity to end smoking for good – I absolutely LOVED the concept of their newest #CATmageddon campaign, with the main message being that you are harming your pets and increasing their risk of cancer if you smoke.

Tanayas Table GRAMMY truth Vans

Secondhand smoke harms your pets, too. So PLEASE STOP!

They even had truth Treats for pets so that celebs’ furry friends waiting for them at home wouldn’t feel left out while their owners were out performing or presenting GRAMMYs! Find out how you can snag the statement shoes for a great cause, and see what they actually look like right here.

“It is a true honor to be even a very small part of (The GRAMMYs),” said Distinctive Assets’ founder Lash Fary. “The GRAMMY Gift Lounge has become one of the most lauded gift events in the world, which seems fitting based on the incomparable stature of the show itself.” Lash Fary was joined by longtime event producer Pam Morrison, who oversaw all elements of the lounge design.

I’m definitely very grateful for the opportunity to get a taste of what kind of star treatment the GRAMMYs talent gets in the Gift Lounge, and to experience a lot of it for myself… especially since the GRAMMYs are one of my favorite awards shows every year! Until next time, cheers! 🙂

 

Pop-Up Dinner: Love As Art

We, as a society, often refer to love as a science, a lot of times citing research on how certain chemical reactions in the brain and body create the feeling of romantic love. However, this past week, I was fortunate enough to experience a five-course pop-up Valentine’s dinner that made me see love in a different way– as an art form.

Thanks to Chef Tiffany of Something Good 2 EatThe Art Institute and Artistic Taste LA, we were in the company of talented artists, singers, and an open bar as we experienced thorough all our senses wonderful works of art and acts of love through food and entertainment. Shoutout to my wonderful, inspiring friend Yuri for inviting me to experience this beautiful dinner affair at Nobo in Los Angeles with her and a few of our other awesome friends this past Friday!

As we enjoyed wonderful conversation with other couples and single pals, we were serenaded in the background by singers and a live band. The candlelight ambiance really set the tone for a memorable evening!

Tanaya's Table Love Pop Up Dinner Soup

We sipped on cocktails and dined on an incredible five courses, starting with a velvety, creamy, comforting tomato soup with a crispy, gooey bite of grilled cheese to dip into it.

The second course was a refreshing garden salad with crisp vegetables, dried cranberries for a little sweet chewiness, and a fresh raw honey-lime dressing that I just couldn’t get enough of.

The third course was quite possibly my favorite, as it was a succulent scallop sitting on a bed of creamy cauliflower puree, topped with crispy bacon crumbles. What a delicious play on surf and turf!

Tanaya's Table Artistic Taste LA Scallops

I chose the chicken for my third course, which was hearty with the addition of garlic white cheddar mashed potatoes, chives and lemon butter asparagus. Loved the veggies, and the cheesy potatoes were a great accompaniment as well.

The grand finale was an incredible half brownie, half chocolate cake heart-shaped dessert iced with decadent ganache and garnished with a chocolate heart and raspberry sauce. This Chocolate Devotion dessert  was sweet art on a plate, and I was in chocolate heaven as I devoured it.

As we enjoyed the entire evening filled with love and art, I realized something… love, itself, is art. It is an art that can be practiced, yet is open to interpretation. Love is something that comes naturally to us, yet some are better at it than others. Yet everyone can learn to love themselves and others, in their own unique way.

Art is something that is very personal, and very unique to the individual who creates it. Yet, others can appreciate that art, be moved by it, and draw inspiration from it. In that same way, so is love.

I reflected back on how I interpret and show love, and came to the realization that although I’ve worked on giving love and showing my love to others over the past many years, I have neglected to show myself that same love… and to fully allow myself to freely receive love in all forms from others.

I discovered in that moment that it felt good to pause the multitude of “to-do’s” and “should do’s” running through my head and allow myself to enjoy a beautiful dinner experience with some of those I love. I realized while eating the food, that it was indeed food for the soul… not because of the type of cuisine served, but because it inspired me to stop and appreciate the moment, and realize that I am worthy of taking a break and allowing the love to flood into my soul sometimes.

Tanaya's Table Artistic Taste LA Chocolate Cake

Perhaps many of you can relate, but oftentimes, I feel that I don’t deserve a complete break from working until I reach my goals and achieve success. But perhaps I should simply aim to love and nourish my soul more, and to enjoy the little moments along the path to success. And perhaps success is also the ability to let go once in a while and enjoy the moment for what it is, with people who truly care about you. All these revelations came to me over the beautiful five courses that night, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it all.

I’m so grateful to have been part of this journey through the senses to experience food as an art form, and as an act of love. By cooking for someone, we are showing our love to another person. By eating food that nourishes us, or gives us pleasure, we are showing love to ourselves, and acknowledging that we are worthy of good food and love. By sharing a meal with those around us, we are connecting, sharing and spreading that love. And that is exactly why I decided to focus on food, and to start Tanaya’s Table years ago.

Let this unique pop-up dinner experience by Chef Tiffany, The Art Institute and Artistic Taste LA be an inspiration to us all… to view our lives, our food and the people we share that experience with, with love and appreciation. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but each and every day!

With love,

Tanaya’s Table

PS – If you’re interested in attending the next pop-up dinner experience, follow my Instagram account @tanayas.table for updates on upcoming events!