6/10/2013 03:53:00 PM

Party Report: Taste of the Nation's Sunny Success Back in Culver City

VIPers met Mission Chinese Food's Danny Bowien
Yesterday saw the return of the annual Taste of the Nation food extravaganza, this year moving back to Media Park in Culver City, a much-welcome change from last year's back lot locale - we'll take beautiful jacarandas in bloom, shade and green grass over a black-top parking lot any day. Celebrating 25 years of chefs, restaurants, wines, beer snobs and cocktail masters coming together to raise money for Share Our Strength, the event seems to get tastier and tastier every year. The last few years have introduced better sippers, from punch bowls to excellent roses and a beer garden, and our local chefs upping their game in the food department.

While there wasn't as much of a theme on the menus as last year's fried chicken spotlight, there was a lot of pork, from Ray Garcia's (Fig) tacos, complete with a big copper pot of pig parts, to Plan Check's amazing pork on pork sandwich and chef Ernesto Uchimura's latest invention, sriracha leather (!). It was a hot day so there were plenty of cool things to eat, including Evan Funke's (Bucato, which will open "soon") creamy burrata and incredible peaches to Roy Choi's peel-and-eat shrimp table to the bay scallop ceviche from Littlefork. It's amazing we have any time to actually eat considering how many people from the food community convene on the park - it's a lot of chit-chat at every turn. But we did get some good gossip and updates from some upcoming projects we're looking forward to this year. Check out some of the newsy tidbits we picked up in between bites and our slide show below.

1) New media darling Danny Bowien, recent James Beard Award winner from San Francisco and New York's Mission Chinese Food, was the main attraction in the VIP tent, where he served pesto ramen with with sea urchin, ikura and tartine rye crumbs. It was an interesting take on a bowl of ramen, but apparently it wasn't for everyone. So is this something we can look forward to in LA? "I'm just here to support the event," Bowien told us. But he isn't exactly ruling out expanding to the Southland. "You never know," he added.

2) Also in the VIP tent was Waylnn Lucas, pastry chef and co-owner of Fonuts. We asked if she's excited or nervous about the debut of Eat, Drink, Love, Bravo's new "reality" TV show set to debut on Bravo in August, which she shares screen time with four other single ladies working "their way to the top of the male-dominated Los Angeles food scene". "Maybe a little of both," she said with a laugh. She's already on camera saying, "This wine makes me moist in places we shouldn't discuss at dinner," so it can only be uphill from there.

3) Uchimura told us 2012 was the year of fried chicken - a dish that was named Dish of the Year in Angeleno magazine, and then prepared at every event the Plan Check team did for the last 12 months - so this time he made a pork on pork slider with sriracha "leather." It was dynamite, one of the best bites of the day, and also the longest line of almost all stands. He offered updates on the two new Plan Checks in the works: construction just started on Fairfax, which is at least 4-6 months out, and Downtown will come along last summer next year.

4) Kris Yenbemroong served up a super spicy Thai beef tartare, which had some people running for the beer tent after one bite. After posting photos of keys to tease opening a second Night + Market location, we found out it will be in Silver Lake.

5) David LeFevre, who had a fantastic tuna tartare on the table, said Fishing With Dynamite has been crazy since the oyster bar's debut about a month ago. "We're going through at least 600 or more oysters a day," he mentioned. Holy shuck.

6) Just because Campanile is gone on La Brea doesn't mean Mark Peel is out of the game. He's getting ready to open a Campanile offshoot in Terminal 4 at LAX, but the project has been pushed back from July to an August 24 debut.

7) A burger cook-off between buds Kris Morningstar and Ray Garcia took a hilarious twist when Garcia decided to do a burger inspired on one of Morningstar's best-known dishes at Ray's & Stark Bar - the chorizo-stuffed chile relleno. His burger, comprised of chorizo, dates, goat cheese, chiles, all the flavors that are in the original dish, won the bout against Morningstar's truffle burger, per judges Evan Kleiman, Jonathan Gold and Aida Mollenkamp. The clincher: Garcia even dressed in Morningstar's "uniform" of shorts, fleece vest and head scarf. He won $5,000 from the sponsor, which goes to Share Our Strength.

1 comment :

  1. Still dreaming about those peaches with burrata...