Newly opened Tapenade is already staging an ambitious chefs' dinner -- well, actually, a buddy party.
Set for Feb. 27, it will showcase dishes created by pals of Tapenade chef Ressul Rassallat. The pals are Andre Guerrero, with whom Rassallat worked at Maximiliano, and David Feau, who just ended his stint as executive chef of The Royce at the Langham in Pasadena. All three will cook together, like the good friends they are.
Guerrero has the first course, lobster, lobster reduction and pineapple served cold as panna cotta. Next comes Feau's plate of farmed lettuce heart and baby kale with salsify, kumquats, maitake mushrooms, onion petals and bergamot orange jus.
Guerrero then returns with chicken gnocchi, morels and asparagus followed by Feau's John Dory a la plancha with rice, cuttlefish, fennel pollen and smoked tomato oil. After letting his friends go first, Rassallat will send out the final courses -- rack of lamb with goat cheese-eggplant cannelloni and the dessert, two-layered crème brûlée (chocolate and vanilla bean).
Not on the menu, unless it turns up as an extra, is the restaurant's signature tapenade. Unlike those murky mixtures that are inevitable at parties, it's a chunky blend of green olives that Rassallat gets from two sources in Italy. These go onto a layer of ricotta cheese that he makes himself. The accompaniment is toasted rosemary bread.
The theme for Feb. 27 is "Passport Around the World," which describes Rassallat as much as the menu. Born in Kermanshah, Iran, he has cooked at Moulin de Lourmarin in Provence, at the Georges V in Paris, at L'Orangerie and The Four Seasons in Los Angeles and most recently at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Now he's cooking in Little Osaka --Tapenade is in the Olympic Collection at the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic Boulevards.
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On the night of the dinner, the guest chefs will check in at 3 p.m, and dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. That's a relatively short stint for them compared to the 11 months it took Rassallat to get the restaurant together for such an occasion. As skilled at construction as in the kitchen, he built it all himself -- the zinc and wood table tops, the bar stools, the zinc bar top, the designs set in the wooden floor and more. It's a cool-looking, contemporary spot with an open kitchen so you can watch Rassallat and his buddies at work..
Passport Around the World is $90 with wine pairings, $72 without. Contact the restaurant for reservations.
Read more from Barbara Hansen at TableConversation.com, EatMx.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.