Sunday, August 01, 2010

Angeleno's Chefs Night Out 2010 (Santa Monica, CA)

Angeleno's Chefs Night Out 2010
101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Sun 08/01/2010, 05:30p-07:25p

Angeleno's Chefs Night Out 2010
On Sunday, August 1st, food critic Brad A. Johnson hosted Angeleno magazine's Chefs Night Out and 8th Annual Restaurant Awards, with proceeds going to support the LA's Best after-school program. The event took place at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, and brought out a veritable who's who of the Los Angeles dining scene. Early on in the evening, Johnson presented awards to 2010's honored restaurants and chefs. Immediately following was the Grand Tasting, where guests were able to enjoy culinary creations from some of LA's most celebrated chefs, along with samplings of wines and spirits. Here's a list of this year's winners:
  • Best New Restaurant: Lazy Ox Canteen
  • Best New Chef: Michael Voltaggio
  • Chef of the Year: Michael Cimarusti, Providence
  • Restaurant of the Year: Hatfield's
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Café & Bakery
  • Outstanding Wine & Spirits: SAAM at the Bazaar by José Andrés
  • Outstanding Service: The Grill on the Alley
  • Vanguard Award: Water Grill
Fellow foodies in attendance included: Aaron of The Savory Hunter, Ann "menu taster" from Yelp, Brian Saltsburg, Caroline of Caroline on Crack, Esther of e*star LA, Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, Hadley Tomicki from Grubstreet (joined by site photographer Tatiana Arbogast), Helen of I'm Hungry and Proud of It, Hong and Kim from Ravenous Couple, legendary LA restaurant reviewer Jay Weston, Jo of My Last Bite, Josh of Food GPS, Julie Wolfson from LAist, Kat Odell from Eater LA and Cork & Rind, Lindsay Williams-Ross from LAist, Matt of Mattatouille, Shauna of The Minty, and Tony of SinoSoul.

Jay Weston
I didn't tell anyone that I'd be attending Chefs Night Out, but I knew, inevitably, that I'd run into some familiar faces, the first of which was none other than Jay Weston!

Hatfield's Prep Hatfield's Prep Hatfield's Prep
Quinn Hatfield and company prepare their braised pork belly dish.

Braised pork belly
Braised pork belly with barley, corn and carrots in vadouvan sauce | Hatfield's, Chef Quinn Hatfield
I loved the subtle, yet distinct porcine savor of Hatfield's pork belly, as well as the tempering effect of his barley and vegetable accompaniments. One had to be careful, though, to prevent the vadouvan from dominating the pig.

Chef Anthony Zappola
Chef Tony Zappola from Craft. I need to pay the restaurant another visit--haven't been back since former Chef de Cuisine Matt Accarrino left (taking Pastry Chef Catherine Schimenti along).

White wine braised Spanish octopus Cookies!
White wine braised Spanish octopus with lemon, mint and potato vinaigrette | Craft, Chef Anthony Zappola
I'm a sucker for a well-prepared octopus, and this was a shining example of such: tender and subtly sweet, with apt accents from the zesty lemon and mint. Cookies, meanwhile, were prepared by new Pastry Chef Shannon Swindle.

Helen of I'm Hungry and Proud of It was in line right behind us.

Chef Ben Bailly Chef Ben Bailly
Petrossian's Ben Bailly--always a hit with the ladies. Interestingly, we found out that the Chef's birthday is only four days after mine!

Cauliflower panna cotta
Cauliflower panna cotta with Transmontanus caviar | Petrossian, Chef Benjamin Bailly
We have here a light, ethereal cream, imbued with the gossamer essence of cauliflower. To this, the caviar was a superb, unabashedly briny counter.

Krissy Lefebvre, Hadley Tomicki Hadley Tomicki
Krissy chats it up with Hadley Tomicki and Tatiana Arbogast from Grubstreet.

Comme Ça Service Chef Dong Choi
Comme Ça had Chef de Cuisine Dong Choi prepping in the back. Owner David Myers was not present.

Heirloom tomato and watermelon terrine
Heirloom tomato and watermelon terrine with red onion granita, pickled watermelon rind, whipped ricotta and candied mustard seed | Comme Ça, Chef Doing Choi
Nice interaction between the sweetness of the watermelon and tomato combo, balanced by the richness of ricotta. A light, bright, refreshing salad, perfect for summer supping.

Chef Susan Feniger Chef Susan Feniger Street Service
You couldn't miss Street's Susan Feniger, not in her lime green chef's coat!

Burmese melon salad
Burmese melon salad with fresh seasonal melons, toasted coconut, peanuts, fried onions and sesame ginger dressing | Street, Chefs Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger
Beautiful, bold flavors here, with the sweetness of the melons playing perfectly with the peanuts and salty onions, while the ginger dressing added a piquant counterpoint.

Chef Monique King Nine Thirty Prep Nine Thirty Prep
The line for Chef Monique King's chicken 'n' waffles was one of the longest.

Indian spiced fried chicken
Indian spiced fried chicken with fennel seed waffles and cardamom syrup | Nine Thirty, Chef Monique King
I know that they were trying to present a homage to Roscoe's, but the waffles weren't quite necessary. That being said, the chicken was quite tasty, showing off a light tinge of Indian savor, intensified by the application of cardamom.

Tony Gets Sauced Tony's Chicken
While queuing up for Nine Thirty, we ran into Tony of SinoSoul, who obviously is, as we can see, very passionate about his fried chicken.

Chef Suzanne Tracht
Chef Suzanne Tracht from Jar. Nice shades!

Pork Croissant Pork Croissant
Pork Croissant | Jar, Chef Suzanne Tracht
This almost looked like it could be a dessert item, but rather, the croissant came filled with a Chinese-inspired, char siu-esque pork mixture. Perhaps a hint of what's to come at Suzpree?

Chef Laurent Quenioux Ice Cream Man
Laurent Quenioux and company take the prize for most dishes served, with four.

Rabbit loin stuffed with veal sweetbreads Oyster and uni tapioca puddings
White chocolate ice cream with caviar Chocolates
Rabbit loin stuffed with veal sweetbreads, vanilla dressing and uni tapioca pudding | Bistro LQ, Chef Laurent Quenioux
We actually began with the tiny cups of tapioca pudding, one with oyster, and one with uni and lobster. Both were quite delicious, showing off a great interaction between sweetness and brine, with the added textural play of tapioca pearls. The rabbit, meanwhile, was even more delicious; rich and suitably saporous, the meat was aptly countervailed by the application of cilantro. Finishing things off was a scrumptious white chocolate ice cream cone, topped with caviar, as well as some assorted chocolates and macarons.

Chef Josie Le Balch
Yes, there is an actual Josie! Chef Josie Le Balch.

Wild mushroom and Gruyère cheese quiche
Wild mushroom and Gruyère cheese quiche | Josie, Chef Josie Le Balch
Gorgeous flavors here, with the earthiness of mushroom playing marvelously with the heft of the Gruyère. I would've liked a slightly crisper crust, though.

Chef Josiah Citrin Chef Josiah Citrin
Chef Josiah Citrin, sippin' Stella, looking dapper as ever in that hat.

Loup de mer 'en écaillés'
Loup de mer "en écaillés" with heirloom tomatoes and cucumber-basil | Mélisse, Chef Josiah Citrin
The loup de mer came cooked "en écaillés," which means with the skin on, giving the fish a fantastic crispness. I also enjoyed its firm, yet supple consistency, and delicate flavor, aptly countervailed by the accompanying vegetable broth.

Chef Andrew Wooton
Wilshire's Andrew Wooton, not Andrew Kirschner.

Olive oil poached octopus Stone fruit cobbler
Olive oil poached octopus with frisée, beans and kalamansi broth & Stone fruit cobbler with cinnamon ice cream | Wilshire, Chef Andrew Kirschner
Another strong presentation of octopus here, heavy in olive oil relish, deftly complemented by earthy beans and a tartish kalamansi broth. Dessert, meanwhile, paired saccharine stone fruit with the light spice of cinnamon--classic.

Chef Ludovic Lefebvre Chef Ludo Lefebvre Chef Dan Moody
Ludo, looking lovely as ever, aided by Chef Dan Moody of The Relationchef.

Heirloom tomato smoothie
Heirloom tomato smoothie, squid ink vodka jelly, seaweed tartar | Ludo Bites, Chef Ludo Lefebvre
Though rather unappealing in appearance, this "smoothie" actually worked quite well, with the mild sugariness of the tomato providing a marvelous moderating base to the big, briny flavors of seaweed and squid ink. Perhaps this should be an addition to the new LudoBites menu?

Kat Odell Kat Odell
Eater LA's lovely editor, Kat Odell (left), at the Ludo booth with PR person Rachel.

Wiener Girl FIG Dog
Milling around the crowd were a gaggle of hot dog girls, doling out FIG's eponymous wiener. It was an all-beef dog, with Comte fondue, bacon-habañero marmalade, Fritos, all on a sesame seed bun. It was also pretty damn tasty, with the Fritos adding a great bit of crunch to the sausage.

WP24 Server Chef David McIntyre
Next up was Wolfgang Puck's 24, helmed by Chef David McIntyre. Pastry Chef Sally Camacho was also helping out. And yes, they've rectified the heinous $35 valet; it's now a flat $10.

Slow braised pork belly bao buns
Slow braised pork belly bao buns | WP 24, Chef David McIntyre
I absolutely adored the duck liver buns at WP24. Though these weren't quite as revelatory, they were still rather delish, with the scallion and cucumber deftly tempering the gravity of the pork.

Chef Michael Voltaggio, Josh Goldman
Dynamic duo: Michael Voltaggio with business partner Josh Goldman. Still no new word on their upcoming restaurant...

Market peach and burrata
Market peach and burrata | Chef Michael Voltaggio (most recently of The Langham)
Not surprisingly, Voltaggio served up the most avant garde dish of the evening. The "Dippin' Dots," imbued with the saccharine essence of peach, actually went surprisingly well with the creaminess of the burrata, with the whole interaction perked up by the overarching tang of arugula.

Chef Victor Casanova
Vic Casanova, casanova?

Capesante day boat scallops
Capesante day boat scallops with farro, summer corn, heirloom tomatoes, scallions, English peas and citronette | Culina, Chef Victor Casanova
Don Juan or not, Casanova did give us an expertly cooked scallop, while its accompanying mélange of farro, corn, and vegetables just worked.

Truffle Shaver Truffle Shaver
Plenty of truffle shaving action at the Angelini Osteria table...

Beef tartare crostino
Beef tartare crostino with guanciale zabaglione and shaved black summer truffles & Baby artichokes in casseruola | Angelini Osteria, Chef Ori Menashe
This was actually one of the strongest tartars I've had in a long time, with the salty guanciale and earthy truffle adding a great depth of flavor to the beef, while the arugula contributed a light, zesty counterpoint. Unfortunately, we didn't get to try Angelini's artichoke dish.

Unknown SLS Chef
The unnamed chef at Saam at the Bazaar. [Edit: Jo informed me that this is Sous Chef Douglas Rankin.]

Linguine with clams
Linguine with clams & Tuna handroll 2009 | SAAM at the Bazaar by José Andrés
Saam had run out of their tuna handrolls by the time we stopped by, so we were limited to their modern take on the classic linguine and clams dish. Taken alone, the noodles weren't particularly interesting, but the dish was really completed by the briny bits of shaved clam.

Chef Ray Garcia Chef Ray Garcia
Chef Ray Garcia from FIG enthralled guests with a cooking demonstration.

Corn tortellini Crostino
Corn tortellini with braised rabbit, carrot and English peas & Crostino with pesto, burrata and heirloom tomato | Fig, Chef Ray Garcia
The carrots and peas seen above went into Garcia's tortellini dish. The pasta, imbued with the sweetness of corn, was augmented by savory, succulent bits of rabbit, while the vegetables took things down a notch. His crostino, meanwhile, was straightforward, with classic, but effective flavors recalling that of an insalata caprese.

Amazingly, this was my first time attending an event like this. Things were a bit rushed, a bit hectic, and I didn't have as much time as I'd like to savor the food like. That being said, it was a fun time, and I enjoyed mingling, meeting chefs, and running into acquaintances both old and new. Hell, who knows, maybe I'll be back in 2011. Congrats to all of this year's winners!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the chef from Wilshire table wasn't Chef Andrew kirschner? and Vic Casanova is the chef from Culina at the 4 seasons hotel. I am jealous at that event but I do believe that's a different chef from Wilshire due to the writing on Uniform saying Kitchen Manager?

Monday, August 02, 2010 2:01:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Good catch about Wilshire. The chef was introduced as Andrew, but Andrew Wooton, not Andrew Kirschner.

Monday, August 02, 2010 2:11:00 AM  
Blogger glutster said...

thanks for the extensive recap Kevin. think i'm finally getting over attending food events like these but still like to the food that was served.

hope your good man.

Monday, August 02, 2010 8:41:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

Great recap, speaking of burrata dessert, I was at Providence two weeks ago and they have a burrata gelato desert served with basil and blinis. Pretty awesome stuff.

Also (I know it's not your ranking), Lazy Ox as best new restaurant!? Wtf!? I went last tuesday and I was so underwhelmed I had to eat afterwards. Would have been a fail of a night if it wasn't for the wine we drank. (even though they charged us 20 btls of corkage for 15 bottles)

Monday, August 02, 2010 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

Holy smokes this looks amazing! Thanks for posting Kevin.

Monday, August 02, 2010 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger bagnatic said...

food events....ahhh. it's like buffet-esque but not. definitely sexier.

Monday, August 02, 2010 1:10:00 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

I can't believe you used "delish" to describe something! (the pork belly bao buns) How very DTAB of you! ;)

It was fun looking at your pictures -- made me almost feel like I was there! Though now I'm also incredibly sad that I wasn't there! Good thing there isn't a shortage of these kinds of affairs...

Monday, August 02, 2010 1:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You're using "countervail" wrong.

X countervails Y where Y is something offensive/bad.

You don't "countervail[ed] by" something. "Countervail" is not used the same way as "contrast" where you can state something "contrasted" or "contrasted by."

Monday, August 02, 2010 3:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does all of baillys food look like it's ripped off from robuchon. Does he know how to create on his own? I bet he even steals robuchons recipes. Lol what a joke of a "chef"

Monday, August 02, 2010 4:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Komal said...

Dude what's with all the Anonymous hateration?

Countervail actually means: to act or avail against with equal power, force, or effect; counteract. (See: There is no connotation of balancing a negative with a positive but rather just two forces of equal strength. Maybe you're thinking of contravened, where two things are in conflict? However even then there is no positive versus negative connotation.

Anyway Kevin Ludo's food looks amazing I was just telling Ryan how it's been a year since my last Ludo's bite and I need to find a way into 5.0!

Monday, August 02, 2010 7:27:00 PM  
Blogger nelehelen said...

i knewww you were going to write your review that night! great recap! and didn't even know you snapped a pic of me! lol next time i'm going to get one of you.

kevin, your bdays in june?

Monday, August 02, 2010 9:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Gabriel said...

Excellent write up of some of LA's best.

Monday, August 02, 2010 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Ann said...

Yeah, it was a bit hectic. My feedback for improvement is: 1) non-paying guests shouldn't have access to the party and 2) the raffle announcement was barley audible.

Other than those issues, the event was enjoyable. The Loup de mer, stone fruit cobbler w/cinnamon ice cream, and capesante day boat scallops were my favs.

Monday, August 02, 2010 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan Hazard said...

Wow, fantastic coverage! I too feel like I was there... I want that pork croissant and cauliflower panna cotta!..

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 5:12:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Javier: You're getting over, I'm getting into. ;)

Charlie: Hmm...that burrata dessert sounds intriguing--probably be a while before I make it back to Providence though. As for Lazy Ox, I actually liked it, but I went right when they opened. I hope they haven't gone down hill.

sygyzy: No problem. It was quite the experience indeed.

Amy: A sexy buffet...I like it!

Diana: You're rubbing off on me Diana. Any tasting events in your future?

Anon: Based on how I've seen the word used, "countervail" means to "oppose" or "counter" or "go against." I think that my usage was acceptable.

Anon: The dish here does have Robuchon influences (Bailly did work for him after all), but I wouldn't say "all" of his food is copycat.

Komal: People are emboldened by the veil of anomynity that the Internet affords.

Helen: Yes, June. Yours too?

Gabriel: Thanks. Did you make it up from SD?

Ann: Didn't see you there! I've added you to the attendee list. How were "non-paying guests" able to access the event?

Nathan: Nice choices. ;)

Thursday, August 05, 2010 1:54:00 AM  
Blogger stuffycheaks said...

jealous!! You know this is def the creme de la creme cuz they serve truffles, uni, rabbit, caviar! and agreed on Lazy Ox!

Friday, August 06, 2010 5:26:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Steph, definitely a step up from the Street Food Fest. ;)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 1:17:00 AM  
Anonymous MyLastBite said...

Hi Kevin,
The "The unnamed chef at Saam at the Bazaar" is Douglas Rankin.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks for that info Jo. One has to wonder, though, why The Bazaar was the only restaurant without a named chef.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:33:00 PM  

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