The fifth annual Stu and the Kids fundraiser, a Thai-inspired food and wine festival hosted by chef Stuart Skversky and Redbird’s Neal and Amy Fraser, returned to Vibiana downtown on Sunday, Aug. 5, with proceeds benefiting the Hill Tribe kids in Chaing Mai, Thailand.
More than 25 participating restaurants including Jitlada, Chao Krung Thai, Nightshade, Redbird, Same Same Thai and Sinners & Saints gathered inside and on the courtyard of Vibiana for a food fest celebrating the many regions of Thai cuisine.
In 2009, Stuart Skversky, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a rising star chef, shifted gears and gave up a promising career in Los Angeles to move to Chiang Mai, where he became a full-time volunteer at the Wat Dan Chan local Buddhist temple.
He taught the high-risk local children English, cooking and baking. He founded Stu and the Kids to better prepare them for adulthood after graduation and give them tools for an independent future. Skversky has raised more than $500,000 for the kids so far.
Chefs and restaurants from assorted neighborhoods and cuisines gave their personal interpretations using traditional Thai ingredients, all uniquely different.
Jitlada was serving up its kan om jeen namya (Thai southern curry noodles with fish balls) alongside Native’s kimchi latkes. Chao Krung, L.A.’s oldest Thai restaurant, was in the forefront with my personal favorite, Amanda Kuntee’s sour Isaan pork sausage, which literally bursts with lemongrass and garlic flavor when you bite into it.
Same Same had some traditional papaya salad and mango with sticky rice, and there were lots of shrimp options — grilled with corn Thai curry and peanuts from République and peel & eat from Bar Amá.
Even more dessert options than savory dishes filled the inside of the former cathedral and spilled out onto the patio. Among them were mango coconut Jello and black sesame cannolis from Restaurant 917, Thai green tea macarons and spicy eclairs from Sinners & Saints and Patina’s coconut tapioca with tropical fruit salad and super seed brittle.
Here’s a tour of Thailand inspired by some of L.A.’s most seasoned chefs…