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: Sweets, Food Stars + Demos At L.A. Cookie Con

Check out highlights from L.A. Cookie Con!

Highlights from L.A. Cookie Con are right here in this one-minute video, including a shoutout to you guys from MasterChef & Food Network stars!

This past Sunday, I was honored to cover the magnificent first annual L.A. Cookie Con as an official blogger. It was a sold-out convention for sweet lovers, featuring a ton of baked goods and other delectable treats. A dessert fanatic’s heaven!

The event, held at the Pasadena Convention Center, featured special guest Ron Ben-Israel of “Sweet Genius” on Food Network, along with “MasterChef” fan favorites Ahran Cho, Daniel McGuffey and Monti Carlo. The immensely talented child chefs also represented, with “MasterChef Junior” stars Dara Yu (better known as “Dara the Bow Girl”), Troy Glass and Sarah Lane taking part in the panel discussion involving all culinary TV personalities. Stacey Poon-Kinney of “The Next Food Network Star” also joined them, along with other talented stars.

Stacey, Monti, Ahran, Daniel, Sarah and more!

Stacey, Monti, Ahran, Daniel, Sarah and more were in attendance

There were tasty pastries of all kinds, from the good old traditional kind, to organic, raw, gluten-free, sugar-free, local and other types of specialty creations. There was something for everybody… and then some!

Some of my favorites (although really, there were way too many to list!) included the newly opened BakerCakemaker, as they were serving their buttery Filipino ensaymadas (they even looped my video feature on them throughout the entire day!). I also loved the unique and rare Baba Raspberry Jam crafted by Coldwater Canyon Provisions, and the perfectly chewy cookie bars that J & D Catering served.

LA Cookie Con Peacock Table

The peacock-themed entry into the dessert table design competition. My personal favorite!

It was wonderful to not only support my friend and L.A. Cookie Con producer Nancy, but also to see so many of my food blogger friends and a lot of my Tastemade family there at the event! We had fun exploring the demos, VIP lounge and photobooth!

Check out the one-minute video above for highlights, including a beautiful peacock dessert table display, photobooth shenanigans, and a hello to all of you from the talented food celebrities in attendance.

LA Cookie Con Macaron Garden

Stay tuned for Dine L.A. coverage of Prova Pizzeria coming soon. Go check it out while you can, there’s only a week left!

 

Sriracha Series, Part 1: Sriracha Festival Brings The Heat to L.A.

This post is Part 1 of a three-part series dedicated to the modern holy grail of hot sauces, sriracha. Stay tuned for a Halloween-themed post and a behind-the-scenes look inside the sriracha factory!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

See the stellar spicy sweet & savory foods in action at the 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival!

The 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival hosted by Josh Lurie of Food GPS & Randy Clemens, author of The Sriracha Cookbook was by far the hottest event to hit Los Angeles this past weekend, taking place at the historic Chinatown Central Plaza. As an avid heat seeker, this was an event I especially looked forward to this month, even with a total of three events to attend that very same day!

By far, the Sriracha Festival showcased some incredibly unique and impressive eats. Chefs and mixologists alike highlighted the versatility of the most trendy chili sauce to date with creative uses in savory and sweet dishes, as well as in cocktail form.

Beachwood BBQ Sriracha Ribs

Beachwood BBQ’s sriracha-glazed smoked ribs

The Mexican chocolate fountain you see in the video above is to dip crispy, sriracha sugar-dusted churrones (similar to chicharrones) courtesy of Eagle Rock Brewery, whose beer on tap included Witbier and IPA. And those meaty smoked ribs being doused in sriracha BBQ sauce come from Beachwood BBQ.

The deviled eggs also featured are not your mama’s deviled eggs. They’ve got a chicken skin crumble and sriracha caramel on ’em, thanks to “Top Chef” contender Mei Lin. Speaking of a great sauce, Willy B’s pork belly had some great flavors from their hot sauce.

That pork belly though.

That pork belly though.

Mud Hen Tavern’s Kajsa Alger served a smooth, creamy sriracha-braised pumpkin purée with white chocolate yogurt and basil oil, along with some fresh greens for texture… and the flavors came together beautifully. Meanwhile, “Next Iron Chef” & “Chopped” alum Nate Appleman of Shophouse served a moist and flavorful pork and chicken meatball with tamarind vinaigrette and green papaya slaw, along with a Thai basil and cilantro salad with crispy garlic.

Crawfish mac 'n cheese with house smoked Andouille sausage by Little Jewel of New Orleans

Crawfish mac ‘n cheese with house-smoked Andouille sausage by Little Jewel of New Orleans

Newcomers on the scene such as The Gadarene Swine and Little Jewel of New Orleans served diverse dishes such as a vegan crispy yucca with sriracha and avocado mousse, and a not-at-all-vegan crawfish mac ‘n cheese with house smoked Andouille sausage, respectively.

Last but not least, you know Eggslut brought the heat (and the longest lines!). Chef Alvin Cailan dished out his spicy pork tan tan men and explained (see video above) that the dish, topped with a seasoned soft-boiled egg, togarashi and bacon, symbolized the debut to their new Ramen Champ concept, set to open in Chinatown by the end of the year. You heard it here first, straight from Alvin!

Eggslut debuted their tan tan noodles from their new concept, Ramen Champ opening soon.

Eggslut debuted delectable tan tan noodles from their new concept, Ramen Champ opening soon.

The smoky bacon, tan tan noodles with a bite, the spicy kick from the togarashi, and the perfectly cooked egg with a soft yolk made for a splendid symphony of flavors in each sizeable bowl.

I also appreciated that there were plenty of cocktails and ice cream to cool palates down for another round of spicy goodness. There were frozen treats such as McConnell’s sweet cream and salted caramel chip ice creams, as well as cooling drinks like a cucumber jicama beverage by Hollywood bartender Jason Bran. However, being the sriracha fanatic that I am, my cocktail and ice cream of choice still incorporated sriracha… in very innovative ways!

Amaretto Sours with a Mango and Sriracha twist

Amaretto Sours with a Mango and Sriracha twist

Jason Bran mixed up a DiSaronno cocktail with mango, lemon and sriracha (see video), while Santa Barbara-to-L.A. transplant McConnell’s Ice Cream scooped pumpkin pie ice cream with a generous drizzle of thick, crave-worthy sriracha caramel. So simple, yet brilliant when paired with the pumpkin ice cream!

Pumpkin pie ice cream topped with sriracha caramel

Pumpkin pie ice cream topped with sriracha caramel

Crème Caramel LA brought their “Holy Petit S’mores” to the party. Want to know what those are? Buckle up before you read this: A sriracha marshmallow layered on a dark chocolate fudge brownie, dipped in white chocolate, rolled in graham cracker crumbs and sprinkled with sriracha honeycomb dust! The marshmallow had just a little kick, and complemented the chocolatey goodness of the brownie.

Yup, there is sriracha in there too!

Yup, there is sriracha in there too!

My absolute favorite dessert of the night, however, came from Red Bread. They served up plates of their (deep breath…) Whole Wheat Crusted Sriracha Black Bottom Meyer Lemon Custard Pie! It was heaven in a pie slice. They also served a Sriracha Apple Crumble Pie, which was a great sriracha-fied version of the classic American dessert. But I can’t deny that it was love at first bite with the Meyer lemon pie! That layer of sriracha-chocolate bliss on the bottom was superb, and I could eat it anytime, any place I tell you!

Thanks to the L.A. Sriracha Festival for a delicious experience. From what I heard while chatting with repeat attendees, last year was great… and this year was even better. I have no doubts that the Sriracha Festival will continue to impress in the years to come. Also, props to the fest for donating a portion of the proceeds to Food Forward.

Extra sriracha on that Greenspans Grilled Cheese, please!

Extra sriracha on that Greenspans Grilled Cheese, please!

Stay tuned for more heat in the next two installments of the Sriracha Series, right here on Tanaya’s Table!

VIDEO: An Italian Food Tour In The Heart Of Los Angeles

Enjoying spumoni push-pops in front of the historic IAMLA building.

Enjoying spumoni push-pops in front of the historic IAMLA building.

Lately, I’ve been missing many aspects of my past trip to Europe… and especially the robust flavors of the simple yet divine food I found in Italy. So the Taste of Italy, held this past weekend in downtown L.A., came at the perfect timing. It was the Italian mini-vacation I needed, right here in Los Angeles!

I covered the event two years ago, and was excited to see what had changed or remained the same since. What didn’t change was the lively atmosphere full of live entertainment and merriment, I’ll tell you that much!

Of the multitude of authentic Italian restaurants and wineries serving and pouring throughout the night, there were a few that really stood out to me. What makes a bite of food special for me at an event is a combination of the taste, originality, balance of flavors and textures, and– last but not least– the service. (It also helps if the item looks pretty on the plate, as it makes the eager food photographer in me very happy!)

Garganelli pasta with pork sausage and fennel pollen

Garganelli pasta with pork sausage and fennel pollen

A couple dishes I really enjoyed were served at the joint booth by Italian restaurants Celestino and Drago Centro, with brothers Calogero and Celestino Drago personally serving guests. They served garganelli pasta with pork sausage and fennel pollen, and plated it right out of a giant, hollowed out cheese wheel (also featured in the video below). The panzanella salad they also served with a smile was refreshing, and a good counterbalance to the flavors and textures in the pasta dish.

Drago Brothers Chefs

The Drago brothers, Celestino and Calogero

Another standout was The Jonathan Club, which served tiramisu and cannoli-inspired donuts that were absolutely scrumptious, and really tasted like their respective classic dessert inspirations. They even included tiny droppers to inject the accompanying espresso or the cherry sauce into the donuts for an interactive experience. They also served spumoni push-pops with pistachio and cherry swirls, which were just as fun as they were tasty (also featured in the video below). Loved the innovative twist on those classic Italian flavors!

Cannoli Tiramisu Donuts Jonathan Club

Tiramisu and cannoli donuts

Di Stefano Cheese served a creamy burrata topped with a smooth pesto sauce, nutty pumpkin seeds and a soft square of focaccia bread to sop up all that goodness. It was one blissful bite! Other dishes served throughout the night included onsite oven-fired pizza, gnocchi with mushrooms, and plenty of cold seafood dishes.

To wash it all down, we sipped on top quality Barolo red wine, long known amongst Italians as the “King of Wines.” I learned that the wine originates from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, and is traditionally made from the native Nebbiolo grape, which is quite thick-skinned and tannic. There was also plenty of Italian coffee on hand, along with cannoli, gelato, and even amaro, which is an Italian digestif.

Barolo Wine

The famed Barolo, also known as “King of All Wines”

With all the hearty food and drink, I found samples of Eden’s Savory Sap to be quite refreshing. It is an elixir made from plants and roots, and I tried their Turmeric-Almond-Rose and Sage-Rosehip-Elderflower flavors in soda water. They tasted like a healthier, aromatic and elevated version of your typical soda, with almost none of the sweetness. I could see them mixed into cocktails as well.

And now, I present you with the best bites in action, right here in this one-minute video packed with Taste of Italy highlights:

Spumoni push-pops and more at Taste of Italy 2014!

Spumoni push-pops and more at Taste of Italy 2014!

It’s also important to note that the annual event is held in support of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, to help raise funds to preserve Italian American history for future generations.

The Taste of Italy was as close as I’ll get in a while to physically being back in Italy, but it definitely transported me back mentally and filled me with nostalgia… all while infusing the event with an innovative L.A. twist. Until next time… ciao!