I was lucky enough to attend this amazing Festival September 16-18. I decided to go to the Friday Good Food Conference, which was serious stuff about our food supply and school lunches. The panels were extremely impressive. They included some of the movers and shakers in the country involved in making our food supply safe and advancing where we are today with the mantra: sustainable, local, organic. While this reality is true for only less than 5% of our food supply, the outcry is gaining momentum for our “right” to have organic, affordable and accessible food for all.
Steve Ellis, CEO of Chipotle Restaurants has proven that we can have “fast, but not bad” food. (I learned he is a trained chef and got his start in San Francisco working for Stars’ Restaurant Jeremiah Tower.) He serves only organic veggies and sustainable meat at Chipotle. He wants to set an example for other fast food restaurants that customers will stand in long lines (secret – get on line before noon) for great quality, non-processed foods and keep it affordable for the lunchtime crowd. He’s opened a new Southeast Asian restaurant called ShopHouse in Washington DC. Looking forward to seeing this roll out!
The quote of the day was from Mud Baron of SchoolGardenShovel.org, who said “Kids who grow veggies, eat veggies.” “Kids who cook veggies, eat veggies.” This is why I think my Kids in the Kitchen class on October 20 is so important to me.
On Saturday and Sunday I watched Chefs play and make some amazing dishes which I got to taste – Sang Yoon from Father’s Office and his newest flagship, Lukshon made a Malaysian Curry with Lamb that had layers and layers of flavor from his ingredients which included kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, ginger root, garlic, galanga root, lamb, crushed tomatoes, toasted shredded & dried coconut, chicken stock, cinnamon, star anise, coconut cream, tamarind, dark palm sugar, keikap, salt, peanut oil infused with chilis and lime juice. This was so yummy, but seems impossible to repeat. Just go to his restaurant, Lukshon. I’m hoping he adds this dish to his menu.
He also literally whipped together a beautiful Yellow Gazpacho while he and Evan Kleiman of KCRW’s Good Food and Angeli Caffe made up a Vegetable Pie and bantered about their favorite kitchen spices and olive oils.
Later that day, I caught Suzanne Goin’s demonstration of a Sauteed Filet of Salmon over a Succotash of Corn with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes. Her restaurants. A.O.C., Lucques, Tavern are beloved by many all over Los Angeles and you can see why.
I was late getting there because I was mesmerized by a Workshop on Perserving Apples. Did you know you can make homemade hard apple cider, sun-dried apples, applesauce, apple jam, apple chutney, apple leather, apple butter or apple juice all from the common everyday apple? If I had an apple tree in my backyard, I’d be all over this! Ernest Miller is a Master Food Preserver and entertained us with a zillion ideas for the ubiquitous apple. My favorite takeaway was using the applesauce you make as a replacement for fat in baked goods. I also learned that apples contain pectin, which is what makes them crunchy. When you boil down apples or the apple cores (left from your other apple recipes), you will have valuable pectin, which can be used in preserving other fruits – such as strawberries for a jam! Brilliant!
In between all the fun, I stopped in on some of the exhibitors including my favorite jarred mole sauce, San Angel Mole. They have just come out with a new dry rub, which I’ve been using a lot for grilling.
I also picked up a couple chilis from Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms that he was roasting in a very cool roaster gizmo.
I came back on Sunday in time to catch my favorite Los Angeleno Chefs, Susan Feniger & Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill and Street. I remember them as the “Two Hot Tamales” from the early Food Network days. They are constant teachers and a lot of people have cut their chops with this entertaining duo. I love how right until the end of the demo, Susan is showing the audience how to properly cut an onion among other chef techniques! They cooked up a Dulce de Leche Pate Choux and fried them into Churro Tots. They tossed them with cinnamon and sugar and served in ramekins with a chocolate or dulce de leche sauce. What a great idea!
Mary Sue cooked up some quinoa fritters made of flour, cumin, red quinoa, white quinoa and poppy seed. This recipe moved Mary Sue to the next round on Top Chef. The quesadilla above made with cotija cheese (a hard cheese), panela (a fresh cheese) and manchego cheese (a melting cheese) and sauteed lobster mushrooms looked fantastic alongside a salad made with mizuna, jicama, oranges and a toasted coriander vinaigrette. Along the way Mary Sue and Susan were dishing up great food ideas like how to roast a poblana chile pepper, how to make a party special with a handmade drink like a Minty Lime Cooler. Add together fresh mint, lemon or lime, sugar, sparkling water + Rum = Mojito.
I listened attentively to all their suggestions and questions prompted by Master Host of the Chef Demos – Nathan Lyon, host of Discovery Channel’s A Lyon in the Kitchen. Nathan is taking pre-orders for his new book, Great Food Starts Fresh.
This was a great weekend. All this entertainment for a $10 admission fee. WOWZA!! Count me in on this Festival again next year. I would have stayed longer, but I had to leave early to get into my gown for the Emmys – Red Carpet, here I come!