Imagine gathering twenty of LA's top chefs -- in one cramped restaurant kitchen -- to cook up a 50-person thank you dinner for a beloved longtime customer. No egos allowed. On the chefs' night off. Free of charge. Oh, and each chef must agree on the menu.
Not going to happen? It did. The secret, judging by Sunday night's dinner at Melisse in honor of longtime LA restaurant patrons Leo and Ivy Chu, is to leave each chef in charge of their own course (other than Alain Giraud and Walter Manzke, who seemed perfectly content to put their heads together over braised pork belly and cheeks... although there was a white bean dividing line between the two meats).
"The Chinese believe you can't have a conversation on an empty stomach," explains Mr. Chu, owner of several California casinos including Hollywood Park, of his penchant for dining out daily and toting a dozen friends along for the culinary ride. "They're not just eating out, these people give back so much," says Providence chef Michael Cimarusti. The Chus often purchase entire tables at local nonprofit fundraisers and invite the chefs to join them (Mrs. Chu is involved with the local chapter of the Special Olympics). "We wanted to do something to show them how much we appreciate them."
And so began an evening of duck breast braised with sweet and sour cherries (Neal Fraser, Grace), Wagyu meatballs (Mako Tanaka, Mako) and of course -- it is LA -- Pink's Hot Dogs. Get the behind-the-scenes pics and the amazing menu after the jump.
Foie gras mousse, pear and golden raisin tartlet, quail egg and brioche "toad in the hole," white truffles --Thomas Boyce, Spago
Blackberry Point oysters, Katsuo dashi gelee -- David LeFevre, Water Grill
Hand-carved jamon Iberico -- Joe Miller, Joe's and Bar Pinxto
Smoked tongue, King crab gelée -- Kaz Oyama, Totoraku hidden restaurant
Prime steak tartare,Tuscan olive oil, black truffles -- Ari Rosensen, Cut Beverly Hills
Sonoma duck breast, sweet and sour cherries -- Neal Fraser, Grace
Arancini (Sicilian fried rice balls) -- Giacomino Drago, Il Pastaio
Pink's Hot Dogs -- Richard Pink and Thomas West, Pink's
Lobster-langoustine 'cappuccino' with truffles, dim sum Kobe beef cheeks -- Claude Segal
Marinated sayori, uni mousse, yuzu confit -- Ken Takayama and Josiah Citrin, Melissé
Kelp marinated Tai mitsuba (Japanese parsley), pomegranate -- David Meyers, Sona
Black truffle risotto -- Gino Angelini, Angelini Osteria
Wine pairings -- Providence sommelier Drew Langley
Dungeness crab linguine, spicy tomato sauce -- Tanino Drago, Via Allorro
Main lobster, English peas, daikon radish, bonito butter -- Michael Cimarusti, Providence
Potato wrapped Ahi tuna, seared foie gras, smoked sierra gold potato, mushroom sauce -- Raphael Lunetta, JiRaffe
Braised pork belly and cheeks, white cap beans, chanterelles, black pepper sauce -- Alain Giraud, Anisette and Walter Manske, Church & State
Kaiserschmarren (crème fraiche pancake souffle), strawberry sauce -- Sherry Yard, Spago
Sicilian Pistachio Cannolis -- Davide Giova, Valentino