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!

VIDEO: Celebrating My 100th Episode At Ox And Son

Unique dessertsoy

As many of you know, I’ve enjoyed working alongside Tastemade for a while now, and love being part of this ever growing community that has quickly become like family to me through the ups and downs of life.

In about 6 months of starting out, I somehow reached over 100 videos on my Tanaya’s Table channel!

I don’t know how it happened so fast, but I do know that I had a lot of fun meeting so many great chefs and fellow food lovers along the way.

I feel blessed to have tasted and shared with you so many amazing dishes — everything from street food, hidden gems and fine dining to special events, new openings and pop-up dinners.

Through the countless hours (which would add up to multiple weeks of my life!) filming, hosting, arranging, editing and getting creative with my clips, it’s been a learning process that has given me the opportunity to hone my skills in video content production.

I’m so excited to say that — with a lot of encouragement and requests from my amazing followers — I’m working on launching my Tanaya’s Table YouTube channel as well!

Without further ado… here’s how my friends Nitar and Taylor from Tastemade, and Tastemade itself, showed me some love: They took me out to a magnificent three-course meal at Ox & Son, a new modern American restaurant by FNA Hospitality Group in Santa Monica. 😀

For starters (along with some great wines), we had amazingly fluffy Uni & Eggs with truffle salt & molasses bread with caraway seeds, Kusshi Oysters harvested from fjords in glaciers (see video to hear Chef Brad’s awesome description) and Yellowtail Crudo.

I loved all of them, but the Uni & Eggs (pictured above) really blew my mind and tastebuds! It’s a definite must-try, as the moist, fluffy eggs with crème fraîche and chives go so surprisingly well with the buttery Santa Barbara uni and slightly sweet, soft, deeply flavored bread.

Uni and Eggs

As for main courses, we got the Prime Charcrust Hanger Steak with a crisp cheddar panisse, broccolini, charred onion and black garlic & miso lime béarnaise; Chicken Fried Duck Confit with shaved pickled vegetables, house kimchi slaw and red chili & local honey sauce; and Sticky Pig Cheeks with black vinegar glaze, roasted turnip, coconut black rice and charred leek.

We all sampled from one another’s plates. The Sticky Pig Cheeks that Taylor got were my favorite, with the thick, sweet-tart glaze going so well with the succulent meat. Plus, the black rice with coconut milk took me right back to my travels to Bali a couple years ago!

For dessert — not sure how we had room, but we (okay, especially Nitar and I) always have room for dessert, I suppose! — we got the rich coffee cake & butterscotch deconstructed dessert, as well as the refreshing lemon & strawberry malt deconstructed cake. Peep the one-minute video above for all the visuals and action shots!

If you’re looking for innovative American food with a touch of global flair, I definitely recommend checking out Ox & Son in Santa Monica. Thanks again to Tastemade for making me feel part of the family, and to showing me appreciation in such a delicious and special way. ‘Til next time, on the road to the next hundred videos… Cheers from Tanaya’s Table!

Ordering New Menu Items Off iPads At STACKED: Food Well Built

Tanayas Table Stacked iPad Pink Cocktail

I still remember the time I got to treat my family and friends to a dinner out after landing a new job. We decided to keep it local, opting to go to STACKED: Food Well Built.

I was excited to show them how they could customize their own dishes on the nifty iPads at this hi-tech spot by the Cerritos mall. A few years ago, it was an even newer concept, so it was extra fun to see our culinary creations come to life.

My family loved the experience, and ever since that day I’ve had an extra special association with the STACKED in Cerritos. Thus, you can imagine how enthusiastic I was about getting an invite to a media dinner they were hosting, with new menu items.

Tanayas Table Stacked Burger

The new Short Rib Sandwich, with an egg on it.

I tried the short rib sandwich with horseradish aioli off their new sandwich section of the menu, and even added an egg to it… because you can do that at a place like this.

The food is so customizable that co-owner Paul Motenko told me they even have 139 gluten-free options, across all categories of their menu! There really is something for everyone here.

It’s quite the thrill to build your own mac ‘n cheese burger, top your pizza with pastrami, or even put potato chips on your pasta… or include all the superfoods you want in your nutritious and delicious salad.

Heck, you can even customize your own milkshake or ice cream sandwich on that iPad! Then, it comes to life when they bring it out of the kitchen on onto your table… and it’s every bit as good as you imagined it would be when you were creating it!

Check out all the items I tried here, including candied bacon and a Cadbury Egg seasonal milkshake:

Check out new menu items in this one-minute video inside our media dinner!

Check out the new menu items in this one-minute video inside our media dinner!

To visit STACKED: Food Well Built, you can find all the info on their website. Stay tuned for a lot more foodie finds to come. Cheers!

New Opening: Unique Asian Fusion At Red Eye Fish

Video: One minute of some of the most unique happy hour dishes at this new Asian fusion spot.

Video: 20 seconds of the most unique happy hour dishes at this new Asian fusion spot.

The newly opened Red Eye Fish’s motto is “not just sushi.”

Indeed, this new Asian fusion spot in Artesia, CA has much more to offer than your traditional sushi (which I am always down for too, given top quality!). We stopped in for a bite and found that there were a ton of creative food mashups just waiting to be explored!

It happened to be happy hour when we went, and it seemed that it was about a dollar or two off the original prices for happy hour items. Here’s what we got, and how it was:

Kimchi Fried Rice with Pork Belly

Kimchi Fried Rice with Pork Belly

The kimchi fried rice has pork belly, and rich savory-sour-spicy flavors. Besides being a bit on the greasier side (as most fried rice dishes are), it’s a really fantastic dish paired with some other items.

Tanayas Table Red Eye Fish Hot Cheetos Sushi Roll

Hot Cheetos Sushi Roll. Yes, you read that right!

Hot Cheetos Roll. Our server said that this is their signature dish, and claim to fame. It is essentially a California roll topped with spicy tuna and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos crumbles.

Somehow, I was expecting more uniqueness and cohesiveness in this dish, but hey, I love all the ingredients in the roll. Plus, my not-so-secret guilty pleasure happens to be those little crunchy bites of heat (a.k.a. Hot Cheetos). So it was awesome to get for the novelty, but I think there are even cooler things on the menu that I would get again next time.

My favorite happy hour item!

My favorite happy hour item!

This leads me to my most favorite item on the menu, the — wait for it — Sushi Pizza!

This baby has a ton of flavorful sushi fillings that go right on top of the crispy rice “crust,” along with a bit of cheese to bring it all together as pizza. It is SO good. My favorite thing so far!

If you’re an adventurous foodie, you should definitely give this place a try. Go here for more info on the new restaurant, and check out the video above for all the aforementioned food in action. Cheers!

One more shot of that sushi pizza. It's just that good.

One more shot of that sushi pizza. It’s just that good.

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!