Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ad Hoc at Home Book Signing (Costa Mesa, CA)

Ad Hoc at Home Book Signing
3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Thu 11/12/2009, 11:00a-02:00p

Of course, by now everyone is pretty much aware that Thomas Keller's long-awaited Bouchon bistro is opening in Beverly Hills next week. From what I hear, the restaurant is already booked solid for the first several days of service, so there's hasn't exactly been a dearth of excitement and anticipation surrounding the place. Adding fuel to the fire is Keller's new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, which was officially released just last Friday. This new tome takes a simpler, more comfort food-based approach, inspired by the menu of Keller's casual eatery Ad Hoc in Yountville. It should be more accessible to the average home cook vis-à-vis Keller's other books: The French Laundry Cookbook, Bouchon, and Under Pressure. Spanning 368 pages, the book details over 200 recipes for family-style dining (including such classics as beef stroganoff, Santa Maria tri-tip, and yes, the heavenly buttermilk fried chicken), and also provides step-by-step lessons in basic kitchen technique (e.g. how to truss a chicken--Keller's unfamiliarity with the technique famously made him a target of a knife throwing incident at Café du Parc).

The South Coast Plaza signing is the second of two in Southern California; the first took place on Monday the 9th at the Williams-Sonoma in Santa Monica. Future dates include:
  • November 20, 2009 at 12:00pm - King of Prussia, PA
  • Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 6:00pm - Oakbrook, IL
  • Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 11:30am - Palo Alto, CA
  • f
  • Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 6:00pm - Houston, TX
  • Friday, December 11, 2009 at 6:00pm - Dallas, TX
South Coast Plaza
South Coast Plaza is, of course, the nexus of high-end shopping here in Orange County. It's the third largest mall in the country, and home to notable eateries Marché Moderne, Charlie Palmer, and the soon-to-be Capital Grille, which replaces the ill-fated Clubhouse. Leatherby's, Mastro's, and Pizzeria Ortica are just across the street as well. I wasn't even sure if I could make it, but I ended up arriving about ten minutes after the mall opened, and was able to score parking in the valet area.

Book Signing Sign Williams-Sonoma South Coast Plaza
From the parking lot, it was a quick jaunt to Williams-Sonoma, which was already bustling with activity at this hour.

Inside Williams-Sonoma South Coast Plaza Inside Williams-Sonoma South Coast Plaza
I was told that I had to go inside to purchase the book, at its full $50 retail price no less (it was under $30 at Amazon). Pretty much everyone was here for the signing, and piles of the cookbook were stacked haphazardly throughout the store.

Book Signing Line
Book Signing Line
Book Signing Line
Book Signing Line
After buying the volume, I made my way outside, only to be confronted by a rather long line of motley characters, which started at the Williams-Sonoma entrance, ran along the store, past the mall's secret VIP club, took a U-turn at Sak's Fifth Avenue, circled back and ended at the Macy's Men Store. The queue would eventually span past Lawry's Carvery, going all the way to Tourneau. I'm told that the line for Giada De Laurentiis' book signing here was even longer.

Fig and Balsamic Jam Fig and Balsamic Jam
Williams-Sonoma's staff made sporadic rounds armed with food from the cookbook. First was a sugary Fig and Balsamic Jam, served with flatbread.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Next was the Cream of Cauliflower Soup, which seemed to lack the red beet chips called for in the actual recipe. Nevertheless, it was a rich, creamy, hearty potage that nicely captured the essence of cauliflower; croutons, meanwhile, mixed things up texturally.

Holly Bruce, Christine, Ryan
While in line, I spied a few familiar faces. First was Holly of The Michelin Project, who we see striking a serious yet sultry pose (the guy beside her seems to be taking notice as well). In the second photo are Bruce (a reader whom I went to Urasawa with), two unidentified women, Christine of Folie à Choisauce, and Ryan of Only Eat What Feeds Your Soul.

Keith Stich & Idalia Garcia
The man in the chef's coat in line next to me was none other than Keith Stich, Executive Chef of Mastro's Ocean Club down in Newport Coast. We were joined by Idalia Garcia from LA Specialty, a supplier of produce and dairy products to restaurants across the Southland. Also next to me were Executive Chef Geovanny Delgado and Director of Sales & Catering Sarah Tarango from Minx Restaurant & Lounge out in Glendale. Having these like-minded people to talk to during the two-hour wait definitely made the time more bearable...

Finally Inside! Finally Inside!
...And in no time, we were inside Williams-Sonoma's inner sanctum.

Thomas Keller & Idalia Thomas Keller & Idalia
Idalia's turn with the chef--she brought two copies of Ad Hoc at Home, as well as a copy of French Laundry's menu from earlier this year.

Thomas Keller & Keith Thomas Keller & Keith
Keith's time to shine.

Thomas Keller & kevinEats
And finally moi. We only had a minute or so with Chef Keller--no time to be verbose--but I did manage to speak with him about his father, Ed Keller. Ed, of course, was instrumental in helping me get my first reservation to French Laundry back in March 2007. I ended up returning to dine at TFL in May, and my dining companions and I had brought Ed some cigars as a token of our gratitude (Ed loved cigars), a beautiful box of 20 Macanudo Vintage 1997s. Unfortunately, Ed got into a serious auto accident the month prior, and was never able to enjoy the smokes prior to his passing in April 2008.

Bree & Holly
Holly and here new friend Bree, about to enter.

One Last Look One Last Look
One last look before leaving.

Ad Hoc at Home Ad Hoc at Home Signature
And here's the cookbook, my first ever no less. Note Keller's fluid, graceful penmanship. It reads: "It's all about family." Indeed.


Anonymous Jai Kohli said...

My favorite cookbook of the year, no doubt. I choked up a bit reading about TK and his dad in the NY Times and immediately remembered your post about him. I'm definitely going to hit up Ad Hoc when I'm in the Bay next month, along with Ubuntu and Commis.

Friday, November 13, 2009 4:01:00 AM  
Blogger unlearned hand said...

Hey Kevin,

I have to simultaneously thank you and curse you for your incredible website. The insightful reviews and excellent photos are truly a pleasure, however, I've wasted hours at work checking them all out!

I've forwarded your link to several of my friends and they all rave about it as well.

Thanks for doing this. Cheers!

Friday, November 13, 2009 8:32:00 AM  
Blogger Idalia Garcia said...

Hi Kevin,

Your post about our 2 hours in line is great!! Great job with the pictures. You are very talented with the camera as well!


Friday, November 13, 2009 8:52:00 AM  
Blogger MyLastBite said...

Fun photos!

I met Keller (for the first time) at a Gourmet event in NY, back in 2005. When he signed my "Bouchon" book, he wrote:

"It's all about the SHARING" (instead of family)...

Good times!

Friday, November 13, 2009 9:01:00 AM  
Blogger Daily Gluttony said...


(That's OK, I'm one too. Waited 2 hours to meet Alton Brown 5 years ago)

Friday, November 13, 2009 9:35:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

I thought about going to this, but paying $20 extra to have Thomas sign a cookbook I'm going to get dirty seems odd ;p. That being said, I'm going to go wait in line today for 2+ hours for a Bill Simmons book signing. heh!

Have fun cooking from the cook book!

Friday, November 13, 2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Tubs said...

I did attend the NY one as it is down the road from me. I must say your blog is looking better and better each day :P

Friday, November 13, 2009 2:26:00 PM  
Blogger Hall-e said...

Hi Kevin! I love how you recounted this event. Still have to do my write up...

Great seeing you! Next stop: Bouchon.

Friday, November 13, 2009 3:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Joce at Foodie Finder said...

Hey Kevin,

Awesome write up as always. If I was in town, I would have gone and said Hi to yah. I ended up dining at L'etoile and Alinea again. Maybe next time!


Friday, November 13, 2009 7:58:00 PM  
Blogger yenasung said...

I waited 3+ hours in line to see Paula Deen and Giada Di Laurentiis (separate occasions). I was thinking maybe Paula's line took so long because she did spend time talking to everybody for a while, and stayed until the last person, but Giada's line was just as long, and she barely spoke. I guess there was just a lot of people wanting to see that famous cleavage in person.

I was also at that Bill Simmons book signing at Downtown Disney...

Kevin, how do you know all these people, their career histories, and restaurant background info? You're always so well informed in your posts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009 4:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,
Love the blog! I, too, stood in line for the TK ad hoc at home book signing at SCP Williams Sonoma! In fact, I was the 1st in line (I know crazy, huh?). I wanted to mention that I also got a pig-shaped cutting board signed by TK (in addition to the ad hoc at home book) and TK signed... "It's all about the pig!!! Be the bacon, Thomas Keller" and he dated it. Isn't that great? TK is absolute genius...can't wait to tackle the ad hoc recipes...the buttermilk fried chicken is just calling my name...

Sunday, November 15, 2009 3:50:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jai: That was a great article. It really made me think about my experience with Ed as well. Enjoy your time up north. I'm especially curious about Commis, because I haven't heard much about it. The chef's resume looks impressive I gotta say.

unlearned hand: Thanks, hopefully there's more thanking than cursing!

Idalia: Thank you Idalia, it was great meeting you!

Jo: So Ad Hoc at Home is about FAMILY. Bouchon is about SHARING. What's Under Pressure about then???

Pam: So Thomas Keller or Alton Brown...I'm not sure which one is nerdier...

Charlie: Ha, I don't have to worry about the "getting dirty" part. This will definitely spend more time on the coffee table than in the kitchen. ;)

Shirley: When are you going to start blogging again? I thought it was supposed to be on the 1-year anniversary of Urasawa.

Holly: I'll be at Bouchon opening night. You too?

Joce: L'Etoile and Alinea aren't bad places to end up! I'll look out for your posts.

Yena: Ok, now I don't feel so nerdy for waiting two hours here. As far as knowing all this info, I usually do some research before writing my posts. Often times, the restaurant's web site will have a complete biography of the chef.

Anon: Wait, so you were the girl in the purple shirt??? How early did you have to show up? I heard that he was signing anything; I saw a lady walk out with signed oven mitts.

Monday, November 16, 2009 3:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Jai Kohli said...

Yeah, having worked in Oakland and lived in Berkeley for years I have to support it. First restaurant in Oakland to receive a star, and it did so within a few months of being open. You've probably already read all these articles now, but for more info:,,

I love the fact that its an open kitchen and you can get a counter seat and watch the chefs in action and talk with them.

Monday, November 16, 2009 3:59:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

another great post! were u able to stay for the discussion?

i went to the signing on tuesday at the torrance borders. surprisingly there was no line. i barely stayed 10 mins before it was my turn to get all googly eyed seeing him up so close. hahahaha. yeah he was signing everything that ppl brought. i wonder if someone asked him to sign their belly, he would've? when he asked how i enjoyed french laundry, i told him it was out of this world, but i was disappointed that i didn't get to try the famed oysters and pearls. he told me a simple solution to that problem - "you just have to go again" hahahaha

Thursday, November 19, 2009 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

Yes - that was me - in the purple shirt!!
I was told by the folks at WS that he would sign anything!!! TK seemed surprised that I asked him to sign the pig cutting board but he was glad to sign it. BTW - cross your finger for me - looking to make it into The "impossible to get a reservation" French Laundry next year!

Friday, November 20, 2009 6:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I was there at 8am!

Friday, November 20, 2009 7:01:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jai: The NYT link isn't working, but I did enjoy the SFMag article. I think I'll have to add this place to my culinary itinerary next time I'm up there.

Daniel: Thanks. I didn't stay for the discussion, as I didn't even know there was one. I heard that Borders had signings in Torrance and Century City, which no one showed up to. I guess they did a poor job promoting them.

Anon: I thought the mall opened at 10:00, so could you even get inside? In any case, I hope you get into TFL!

Sunday, November 22, 2009 4:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,
Purple shirt girl here.... actually, I took a chance to see if the mall was open (sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't)....And thanks for the good wishes on TFL! BTW - did you happen to catch TK on the Martha Stewart Show today? He gave away ad hoc at home cookbooks along with a pig shaped cutting board!!! I'd like to think that it was me who inspired that pig shaped cutting board... when I asked him to sign it, he seemed rather tickled by it..... and now it shows up as gifts at this appearances on TV!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 8:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

I know this post is a couple weeks past the post date, but that is my sister in the first panoramic view of the line, third from the right standing up in the black coat. Wish I could have been there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Anon: I didn't catch TKel on the show, but I did hear about it, which made me think of your story!

Josh: Wow, when I was taking the photos, I recall your sister being really bloody hot, like model quality! I will need to go back to the original size photos to verify...

Thursday, November 26, 2009 1:16:00 AM  
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