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: The Taste of Mexico Media Preview Night

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

As summer winds down, one might think that food festivals are also on the decline. Well, that’s not the case here in Los Angeles, and a prime example of that is The Taste of Mexico, taking place on September 27 at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown. Last night, I had the opportunity to attend their media preview night to get the early scoop to share with you!

The festival, celebrating Mexican food, heritage and culture, was founded in 2010 and has grown exponentially over the past four years. For the first time, the food fair is expanding to include a daytime family brunch event in addition to its annual evening of food, drinks and dancing.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Thanks for the torta education, Torta Company!

The Torta Co., part of the Lotería Grill family, served up a variety of tasty tortas, including ones with poblano peppers, Oaxacan cheese, breaded chicken cutlets, sirloin tips, a tuna melt and even a take on the PB & J!

Mezcal and tequila made for a festive evening, but my favorite were the Micheladas were served from Guelaguetza’s famous Miche Mobil. They were made with Montejo beer, a Mexican pale lager that debuted in the U.S. for the first time just a few weeks ago at Dodger Stadium. It was exciting to get a first taste, as it is slowly rolling out here in specific markets.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

An array of colorful dessert samplings from Compañía de Café.

Another favorite of mine was from Yuca’s, which not only had a warm demeanor in serving us, but also had amazing food like the Nuevo Relleno, a Pasilla chile oozing with cheese and chunks of portobello mushroom. I soon after learned that Yuca’s is also a James Beard award-winning restaurant! Well-deserved, for sure.

Candela Taco Bar had a refreshing spinach & pineapple agua fresca, and Artesana Pops’ spinach & pineapple popsicles were another great take on the same fruit-and-veggie power couple.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Mexikosher’s plate was diverse in texture and flavor.

Finally, “Chopped” champion and Season 12 “Top Chef: Boston” contender Katsuji Tanabe of Mexikosher served a big hunk of miso-marinated pastrami with figs, peaches and a habanero sauce. Check him out presenting his dish in the recap video below!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Get a preview of the variety of Mexican fare you’ll find at Taste of Mexico!

There were many more tasty bites throughout the night, so check out the rest with the family or some friends on 9/27!

 

The 4th Annual Taste of Mexico essentials:

September 27, 2014 at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Farmers Market Family Picnic: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Dinner, Drinks and Dancing: 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.

 ¡Salud!

VIDEO: Sneak Preview Of Border Grill’s New Seasonal Menu

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

My mom and I have been longtime fans of notable chefs, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, since their days on Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” when I was a little girl. Since those days, the two incredibly talented chefs and friends have been on “Top Chef Masters” and achieved much more while continuing to run Border Grill for decades, along with their other standout restaurants.

So naturally, when I got the chance to attend their new menu launch party last night thanks to Dana, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Border Grill Downtown, located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles underneath the skyscrapers and city lights, is launching a new fall seasonal menu for the first time in a long time. So last night, I had to get a taste of all the brand new fare!

I knew going in that Border Grill is vegetarian-friendly, so I brought my friend Roshni along with me. Not only could she give me an opinion from a vegetarian perspective, but she was also a huge help in assisting me with getting all the shots I needed on camera and video. Also, I’ve seen Susan Feniger at so many events that she greeted me warmly and offered to be in my video (below)!

So I raced the sun to get my visuals before we finally could dive in to eat, drink, mingle and enjoy the rest of our evening as the sun set over Downtown L.A. Work before play, I say… but good thing the two can often overlap for me, especially in this facet of my life!

The recap video at the end speaks for itself (I mean come on, Susan Feniger even explains one of her own dishes!), but some of my personal favorites included:

The Squash Empanada, filled with pine nuts for crunch and manchego cheese for body. Definitely a great fall take on the empanada! The Chimichurri sauce on top really enhanced all the other flavors as well.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Ancho Chile Roasted Beef, served at the carving station complete with a DIY “deconstructed sandwich” bar. The buttery grilled telera bread had a great bite to it, being crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The chile cascabel sauce and horseradish crema added a smoky heat and a cooling component, and the habanero pickled onions and watercress added acidity and freshness to the dish. Plus, we got to plate our own food (can’t you tell? Ha!).

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Key Lime Cheesecake Squares. The mint and seasonal berries added great flavor and depth, while the graham cracker crust and nuts added a crunchy element to the fresh, tangy, wonderful bite of dessert!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Filled Churro Pops. Whether filled with luscious red wine poached pear or rolled in chocolate, cayenne pepper and hazelnut, these soft, moist bites of cinnamon-y, doughy churros are what dreams are made of… on a stick!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Mezcal Sour cocktail, which had a smoky flavor, thicker texture from the egg whites, and a depth of flavor from the Aztec chocolate bitters. Talk about an equally complex tasting and cool-looking drink!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

And now… I present you with the full holiday showcase menu:

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Below is a video recap of the evening, including those juicy quinoa-stuffed mushrooms and, later, Susan Feniger herself presenting the out-of-this-world Vegetarian Paella with roasted pumpkin seeds. All of it here:

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Check out this teaser to get a taste of the new Fall holiday menu!

If you’d like try modern Mexican food with a bold twist, inspired by the flavors of Oaxaca and the Yucatan, then I definitely recommend checking out Border Grill Downtown. They even have a food truck and catering services. I know I’ll be back again, especially for those delectable chocolate-hazelnut-cayenne churros!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Around L.A: Bites From The DTLA Night Market

The 626 Night Market, known for hosting events in the San Gabriel Valley akin to the original night markets found in Asia, has now come to Los Angeles. The first-ever DTLA Night Market was held at the lot across from Staples Center in the heart of downtown, with plenty of food and retail vendors, art and live entertainment.

Having covered past 626 Night Markets, the downtown L.A. event seemed to have a slightly different vibe, with more of a modern, eclectic selection of vendors as well as crowd, which also seemed to skew younger, at least during the time we were there on Friday.

The event was held June 20-21st, running from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. both nights. Quick protip: If you’re going to taste a variety of good food, it’s best to get there earlier in the day, to beat the rush. You’ll get dibs on the best items before they may run out, and also avoid long lines. If you’re going for the ambiance and more of the true “night market” feel, go in the evening when it’s bustling with more people, lights and live music.

With an artwalk, hookah lounge, beer garden, 97.1 AMP Radio DJ’ing onsite and more, the event had a lively vibe, with a diverse group of vendors offering a variety of different bites for purchase. Here are some of the top bites we tried:

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

This red velvet mochi egg waffle comes from Puffect, a bakery that specializes in creating these unique crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside waffles that can commonly be found on the streets of Hong Kong. Some of my fondest street food memories in Hong Kong (I lived there one summer, and plan to share those adventures as well… so much good food!) involve these delicious treats. Puffect offers lots of creative takes on the classic egg waffle by creating flavored batters such as Thai tea and green tea, in addition to the red velvet variation. A host of add-ons can texturally enhance your egg waffle experience, as our mochi-studded dessert provided chewy pockets of gooey, starchy goodness.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

This special version of the original Ramen Burger is a collaboration with La Sriracha Macha, a Mexican-inspired version of the now-ubiquitous Sriracha sauce. The patty was good and all, but the ramen bun was unique and tasty, with an even texture throughout that held up well when repeatedly bitten into (unlike some other imposter ramen buns). The sauce added great flavor that made the entire thing juicier, with a little heat.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Kalbi taco buns from Crasians had a “secret ingredient” which gives the traditionally soft bao a crunchy exterior when frying. I think it’s some sort of larger bread crumb flake, because it looked liked flaked coconut but didn’t taste like it. Delicious nonetheless.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

This anything-but-ordinary fried chicken sandwich was created by Formosa Cafe’s Brian Huskey (who is also a former “Top Chef” contestant). The crispy exterior and juicy interior of the chicken was accompanied by the refreshing coolness of the coleslaw, a sweet richness from the Okinawan purple potato, and a little kick of heat from the accompanying jalapeño yuzu sauce. All of these components joined forces to create one of the most well-balanced bites of the entire event.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The newest item from Mama Musubi is the Currywurst rice ball. With a quality tidbit of Berkshire pork sausage and a dab of Japanese curry aioli, the flavors added a nice depth to the seasoned rice + seaweed base. I’ve had other rice ball variations from Mama Musubi, all of which have been varying degrees of tasty. Still, I’ve always felt that it’s a lot of rice for what you’re paying, and more importantly, for all the stomach real estate (as I like to call it) that it takes up during a food event. The rice is quite filling, and there’s a lot of it in proportion to the actual toppings. Still a pretty solid bite overall.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Now, on to the uni cream and truffle oil tater tots from Lotza Tots. Rich, creamy, just the right amount of uni– which, by the way, is sourced straight from the Maruhide Uni Club… so you know their sea urchin is legit. These tots were quite rich as you’d expect, but Lotza Tots was kind enough to entice us with a special half-order. Flavor-wise, these tots were uni-tater perfection. True indulgence at its finest: a little deep-fried fair fare, topped with creamy class.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Other interesting eats and drinks included spiked Amaretto boba by Boba 7, Hello Kitty and other character-inspired cupcakes by Mwokaji Cakery, liquid nitrogen frozen popcorn by NitroPop, and fried ice cream from Frio Frito. There was also watermelon-basil lemonade, ice cream sundaes in the form of potted plants, and much more to try! The first DTLA Night Market was certainly a hit. If you want to check it out for yourself, the next 626 Night Market series will be held in Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on the following Fridays and Saturdays, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m:

  • July 18 & 19
  • August 15 & 16
  • September 12 & 13

For those who have only been to the 626 Night Market, the OC Night Market, or this past event in downtown, it’s safe to say you’ll experience a few new things at each location. For updates on the next event, check out the 626 Night Market website.