For the past 6 months, I've been involved with the marketing committee for Share Our Strength's premiere culinary event, Taste of the Nation. While working with TOTNLA, I've learned a lot about how prominent childhood hunger is in the U.S. and what this wonderful organization does in trying to end this crisis. Since 100% of the ticket sales go towards local charities that focus on ending childhood hunger, it is crucial to promote the Taste of the Nation - Los Angeles event which will be held on June 6 at Media Park in Culver City.
We've been putting together different kinds of events to promote ticket sales to TOTNLA - everything from food to fashion. Our most recent event was a fabulous, exclusive tasting event at Snyder Diamond. Teamed up with Angeleno Magazine, TOTNLA put on a cooking demonstration by Los Angeles's top chefs, Chef Laurent Quenioux from Bistro LQ, Chef Walter Manzke formerly of Church and State, and Chef Quinn Hatfield from Hatfield's.
Guests mingle while waiting for the demos to begin
Chef Laurent Qeunioux's Wild Mushrom Tapioca Pudding, Mirabelle Plum Coulis, Tonka Bean Chantilly
Chef Laurent was the first to go up and demo his signature dish - wild mushroom tapioca pudding. Now I was running around from the front door to the showroom, so I really can't tell you all the wonderful things he said on how to prepare this dish. But, lucky for me, I got to at least taste it and it was amazing! The mild sweetness from the plums were perfect with the mild earthiness of the mushrooms. The whole dish was first sweet and finished off with a savory note. It was a perfect little melody that was unfolding in my mouth - a very lovely dish.
Chef Walter Manzke's Tarte Flambe (Onion Tart)
Next up was Chef Walter Manzke, formerly of Church and State, and his ever so popular onion tart. I, once again, missed the speaking part of this demo, but was pleased to see that he was using the pizza oven that Snyder Diamond had made functional only a few days before. If you love onions and cheese like I do, this is like heaven in a bite. While there were bits of bacon in this dish, the tart was all about the onions - wonderfully sweet, caramelized onions.
Chef Quinn Hatfield's "Croque Madame" with Hamachi, Proscuitto, Quail Egg
Last but not least, was Chef Quinn Hatfied demonstrating his famous "Croque Madame." This being my absolute favorite dish of Chef Hatfield, I was ecstatic when I first heard this dish was going to be demonstrated and passed out to the guests. This smaller version was still as rich and delicious as the one on his restaurant's menu. Thankfully, for this demo, I did hear that he first made this for Chef Rocco DiSpirito while working for him at Union Pacifico in New York. Chef Rocco liked what he had and asked Chef Hatfield to make four of these "croques" to be a part of the tasting menu. Although the dish's first debut didn't do so well, this served to be a silver lining for Chef Hatfield that allowed him to keep this recipe on the back burner and perfect it over the years.
Chef Laurent Quenioux and Sous-chef Daniel help Chef Hatfield plate
The Cheese Impresario's Cheese Plates
Across from the California Olive Company's bread and olive oil station, Barrie Lynn from The Cheese Impresario presented different trays of Wisconsin cheese for the guests to enjoy, ranging from raw milk Gouda to Hook's Sharp Cheddar. I especially enjoyed the fruitiness of Satori Food's Raspberry BellaVitano and the complexity of flavors from the Cave -Aged Mellage, which is a mixture of sheep and goat's milk.
Right to Left: Chris Owens of Intelligentsia Coffe in Venice, Devin Pedde (2010 U.S. Barista Championship Finalist) and Stephen Morrissey (2008 World Barista Championship)
The event had an open bar serving up wine and a signature cocktail made with Jett Vodka, as well as some amazing coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee. Being a total coffee newb, I was full of questions and the coffee gods of Intelligentsia were full of answers. Stephen Morrissey and Chris Owens were kind enough to answer all my, probably stupid, questions. If I knew I was in presence of such coffee powerhouses, I would've at least pretended to know something about coffee, but then again I would've probably failed miserably since I can only BS about such things for so long. Regardless of the extent of my coffee knowledge, I thought this cup was fantastic. No sugar, no cream and it was smooth and delicious. And strong. This little cup kept me up well past 12 a.m.! But, hey, I don't drink soda or caffeinated drink so I should've known better.
Essential Chocolate passed out bite-size desserts for all the guests towards the end of the event. And loving sweets the way that I do, I conveniently "forgot" about my diet and indulged. My favorite was the white chocolate with, please dont quote me, carrot cake filling. Was it carrot cake? I have no idea. I just know it killed the start of my diet, but at least I went out with a bang!
(Left to Right: Chef Daniel (Junior Sous Chef @ Bistro LQ), Chef Quinn Hatfield, Helen Kim, Chef Walter Manzke, Chef Laurent Quenioux)
This event was a huge success and had a great turnout! We raised money and awareness for TOTNLA while listening to these talented chefs describe their signature dishes. Amazing food, wonderful people and interesting conversations all while keeping in mind why we were all there in the first place: to end childhood hunger in the U.S. What more can you ask for?
For those of you who missed the Angeleno event, don't worry! TOTNLA's next event is at Ciudad on May 20th!
And if you haven't gotten your ticket yet, buy your TICKETS now!!