The Best Bites from the All-Star Chef’s Classic “Grill & Chill”

Posted in America, California, North America, On the Ground

The All-Star Chef Classic came on the scene last year as a food event that’s trying to break the mold. Instead of similar events across the United States where a bunch of big-name chefs set up shop and serve tiny portions of their greatest hits, the All-Star Chef Classic vowed to up their game and serve plated dinners featuring a bunch of those, ahem, all-star chefs working together to create a meal for those lucky enough (read: rich enough) to score tickets to the big dinners in “Restaurant Stadium,” a make-shift Coliseum of dining at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles where the spectators surround the action on the floor like a Roman audience gearing up for a Bacchanal.

That’s what makes the Grill & Chill event so interesting. Instead of the new format that the French Master/British Master/American Master dinners set up, the organizers went back to the standard taste-around. I assume it’s to make the event more inclusive to those that can’t afford the hefty price tag of the seated dinners. In any case, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Grill & Chill and these were the top bites of the evening:

IMG_0592Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie & Ted’s) proved once again that he’s a seafood master by serving a “Lil’ Smoky” made out of Hokkaido scallops. A perfect two-bite sandwich to start the evening.

IMG_0597This lamb with smoked paprika, herbs, and charred onions was grilled to perfection by Josiah Citrin and the Melisse team. Since his restaurant is above most people’s pay grades, it’s nice to see Citrin set up at festivals and give people a taste of Melisse, which they otherwise may not be able to afford to do. Also, the chef is just an all-around good dude.

IMG_0600Who says a night devoted to grilling means grilling meat? Ludo Lefebvre offered up these BBQ carrots accented with a dollop of yogurt and blood orange segments. A bit on the sweet side, but a nice contrast from the rest of the protein-filled plates.

IMG_0611 - Version 2I’ve been a big fan of Nancy Silverton and her Mozza empire since the pizzeria first opened. I’d grown accustomed to seeing her serve “Nancy’s Caprese” at these events with tomatoes on the vine and a nice swatch of burrata, but last night she served grilled beef tagliata with parmigiano reggiano cheese and an aged balsamic reduction. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t nearly do it justice.

IMG_0620Chateau Marmont doesn’t get a lot of credit for its restaurant because people are so busy focusing on the celebrities that inhabit its walls, but Carolynn Spence is doing great work and that really showed in her elaborate grilled rabbit sausage bruschetta. With an English pea tapenade and an early-season Morel mushroom butter, it was one of the most complete dishes of the evening.

IMG_0625You can barely see the beef tartare underneath the escabeche, but Jenn Louis of Portland’s Lincoln restaurant brought some serious flavor to the table with her mini tartare tostada.

IMG_0631As the night wore on, it got to be nearly impossible to take decent photos and the biggest casualty was my favorite dish of the night. Chef David LeFevre (MB Post, Fishing With Dynamite) grilled a Moroccan-spiced lamb belly with harissa and kumquat curd that blew me away. It was the best use of the grill for the evening and I hope it winds up on his menu at MB Post (if it’s not there already). Well done, chef. Actually: medium rare.



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