Weekend Fun: Special Olympics Pier Del Sol Event + Tanaya’s Table on KTLA 5

Pier del Sol KTLA 5It’s a widely known fact that the weekend is an insanely short amount of time. Much too short. Two days, to be exact, and on Sunday you can either laze around like any other Sunday and run mundane errands while dreading Monday, or you can seize the second half of that glorious time away from the office to go do something memorable to make the most of it. So, what do to?

Well, there are a few things I can suggest. Perhaps going to brunch? Or maybe the Santa Monica Pier for a beach view on a sunny day? Or maybe an amusement park with rides and games… Or perhaps just tasting a bunch of top notch food around L.A. and meeting your favorite chefs? OR maybe doing something meaningful for a good cause? Good news is, the Special Olympics’ premier annual Pier del Sol event allows you the opportunity to do all that and more!

You can meet top chefs from around Los Angeles and taste their finest bites, enjoy all-access status to the rides at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, and the best part would be that you’re helping a great cause, which is the Special Olympics of Southern California. I got a chance to meet some of the athletes this past week at a live KTLA morning news segment (or 5 segments, to be accurate) with Gayle Anderson, and it was a great time getting to know them. More on that below!

The VIP brunch features the aforementioned top quality cuisine from 38 of LA’s top restaurants, including Chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence, Chef Olivier Rousselle of On Sunset, Chef Tanino Drago of Tanino Ristorante, and Chef Ermando Robles of Porto Via.

VIP Tickets are $150 each, and include the VIP Brunch, unlimited rides, plus 12 game tickets. General Admission is $45 and include unlimited rides, eight game tickets and a meal coupon for Pacific Park’s food plaza… but come on now, you know you want to try all the top food from all over L.A!

While generatl admission tickets are available on the day of the event, there area only a limited number of VIP tickets still available, so it’s best to get your tickets now. Another great thing about this one-of-a-kind special event is that proceeds go straight to the non-profit, so it is tax-deductible. Can’t complain about that!

Here we are on the KTLA 5 morning news with Gayle Anderson, right onsite of where Pier del Sol will take place! Totally worth waking up extra early for, as I got to meet wonderful Special Olympics athletes, staff, plus fellow blogger e*star LA, Pacific Park executives and great chefs. We also got to eat on camera… the first step in my dream of eating on camera as a career! 😉

Thanks to my friend Dani for snapping & sending me this!

Thanks to my wonderful friend (since preschool!) Dani for snapping & sending me this in realtime! Click above for all the segments.

On camera, we tasted the 62-degree egg on a beef cheek hash with housemade sriracha aioli prepared by Chef Joisah Citrin, and boy was it good! I hadn’t seen Josiah Citrin since his cooking demo last year, which I had also covered. He’s still just as friendly and witty! Chef Erik of the Daily Grill was also onsite, preparing his seared ahi tuna salad. These were just two of the bites, but you can get all 38 bites this Sunday, October 12 starting at 10 a.m. right on the Santa Monica Pier, complete with sun and surf.

What better way to spend a Sunday than with good food for a great cause, in sunny SoCal? Whether with family or friends, it’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday, and hopefully I see you there!

Since 1997, Pier del Sol has raised nearly $8 million, benefiting and changing the lives of more than 17,000 Special Olympic Southern California athletes. For more information and to get your tickets, visit the Special Olympics of Southern California’s Pier del Sol event website.

Happy weekend, all! 🙂

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Sneak Peek: The L.A. Zoo’s Annual Beastly Ball

What’s better than a bunch of talented chefs serving up really good food, all in one place? The fact that they’re doing it in the zoo, of course! Don’t tell me you didn’t see that coming. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

After covering the zoo for years, through its Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles (LAIR) habitat opening, and its Zoo after-hours event, I can truly say that each experience there has been wonderful.

This Saturday, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association is holding their 4th annual Beastly Ball. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek (and taste) last weekend to share with you all, as the otters chirped in the background of the media day and food preview, held in the new Rainforest of the Americas.

The Beastly Ball is a fundraiser, described as “One of the Best Parties in Los Angeles” by KCBS/KCAL TV News. Each year, it features a unique opportunity to explore the L.A. Zoo after-hours. Attendees get to meet some animals up close, and even chat with the keepers. On top of that, there is dancing, live entertainment and a bountiful spread served up by some of L.A.’s most iconic restaurants.

Here’s what we tasted at the sneak peek:

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Celestino Ristorante chef and owner Calogero Drago served a creamy, aromatic and perfectly cooked plate of Raviolini alla Quattro Stagione con Mascarpone e Salvia (Multi-Colored Raviolini Stuffed with Mixed Vegetables and a Mascarpone Sage Sauce), “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s mandrill with its vibrant facial colors.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Sam’s by the Beach chef and owner Sam Elias and assistant chef Kenji served a refreshing Purée of California Cantaloupe with Fennel, Green Apple, Cucumber and Fresh Mint, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s Botanical Gardens,” and a savory Wild Mushroom Soufflé with a rich Roasted Roma Tomato Coulis Sauce, “inspired by the Zoo’s orangutans.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Maison Akira chef and owner Akira Hirose and Li Diep served a creamy-crunchy Homemade Duck Pâté with Cristillon Toast, and a flavorful Chilled Somen in Dashi “inspired by the birds at the Los Angeles Zoo.” (Not sure if this was the most politically correct source of inspiration… but the somen noodles were really good.)

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

El Coyote chef Jesus Nanez served steaming hot and sweet Green Corn Tamales, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s emerald tree boa.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Taix chef Hugues Quintard served a bright Watermelon and Baby Tomato Confit Gazpacho with Tiny Croutons and Mint, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s Mexican slider turtle.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

El Cholo Los Angeles chef Gerardo Ochoa served creamy Crab and Cream Cheese Mexican “Snake Heads,” “inspired by the snakes at the Los Angeles Zoo.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The Federal Bar chef James Markham served crispy Mac and Cheese Pops” inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s otters,” and fresh Watermelon, Lomo and Balsamic “Anaconda Bites”  “inspired by the Zoo’s lizards.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Canelé chef Corina Weibel served a light Canelé Dande-Lion Salad with bitter notes, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s new lions.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Jersey Mike’s Kassie Simmons and Caroline Simmons served up hearty subs and created Hammy the Hippo, a.k.a. the Jersey Shore Favorite sandwich, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s two hippopotamuses.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood chef Khaled Masrouga served a creamy, tangy Cheesecake with Oreo Cookie Pieces, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s zebras.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Glorious Gourmet & Garnish Café owner Jocelyn Hanson served a citrusy, chocolaty Golden Lion Tamarin Cake, “inspired by the cotton-top tamarins in the L.A. Zoo’s Rainforest of the Americas.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Yummy Cupcakes’ senior pastry chef Ambar Cortez and pastry chef Lanie Clodfelter-Farrell served sweet, colorful Coral Snake Cupcake Truffles and Cupcake Parfaits, “inspired by the Los Angeles Zoo’s Coral Snake and the new Rainforest of the Americas exhibit.”

Did you know that the L.A. Zoo is an international leader in the preservation of endangered species? While roaming the zoo, we spoke with a docent near the Indian elephants who passionately explained to us the process of rescuing and rehabilitating animals who could no longer survive in the wild. He explained how zoos make trades with other zoos for animals depending on where they would thrive best.

Each year, the Beastly Ball hosts nearly 1,000 attendees, and raises over $1 million for the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Amazing, right? The event is this Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 6 p.m. at the L.A. Zoo. You can find more information over at lazoo.org.

This year, the Beastly Ball will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List was created to assess and monitor species at the global level, to highlight their risk of extinction, and to promote their conservation.

Among those in attendance on media day were: Connie Morgan, President of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA); Richard Lichtenstein, Co-Chairman of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association; Carolyn Hennessy, actress/animal rescue advocate/GLAZA supporter (“True Blood,” “Cougar Town,” “General Hospital”); Denise M. Verret, Deputy Director of the Los Angeles Zoo; Tom LaBonge, Los Angeles City Councilmember of the 4th District.

Even if we can’t all afford to attend the Beastly Ball (tickets are $1000 per person!), let’s do our part in helping spread the word about supporting our amazing zoo!