Last week I was able to attend an event that Los Angeles Magazine put on, The Island Style Cook-off. Chefs from Los Angeles competed to create the best “Island Style” appetizer (aka pupu) and they were then judged by a celebrity panel that included two chefs from Hawaii. Roy Yamaguchi from Roy’s and Ed Kenney from Town in Kaimuki! Funny enough I had shadowed Roy in high school through our career shadow program. I believe he showed us how to create a risotto, short ribs and his famous lava cakes. I’m not really sure it was sooo long ago! Town is another great place that opened up near my house with a great farm fresh mentality and an ever changing menu.
So back to the event, it was held at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, which created a beautiful backdrop and created a nice ocean feel since you could see and smell the beachy vibe. As we entered we were greeted with orchid lei’s and there were several bars serving beers from Hawaii, wine and Pineapple Mosquitos! Pineapple Mosquitos (Belvedere Vodka, Liquor 43, pineapple juice and mint) I think are served at the Fig in the Fairmont. There were also tables of Kona Coffee Island cookies, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts as well as some tasty Taro Chips!
Four LA chefs competed for the title, as well as a trip to Hawaii to participate in the 1st Annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival. Readers had the opportunity to visit the chefs restaurants to taste some of the appetizers that were being offered for the competition and then vote online for their favorites. Neal Fraser from BLD and Mark Gold from EVA were the top 2 vote getters and were at the event to offer a demo on their dishes. Mark Gold offered up a Foie Gras Sushi and Neal Fraser did a Tuna Poke dish. Neal also did an amazing Spam Bahnmi that I am going to recreate soon! The winner was Mark Gold from Eva, though I actually liked Neal’s dishes more. (Sorry Mark)
The highlight of the night for me though was when Ray Gracia, head chef at FIG demonstrated how to do a modern day Kalua Pig in a steel box. He then turned the kalua pig into delicious tacos that were served with homemade tortillas and garnished with radishes and a pineapple habanero salsa. I may or may not have had 3… Allegedly I had a nice juicy piece of pig that was pulled off with a beautiful crispy skin. There are no pictures of that- so I’m saying for my diets sake, it did not happen. FIG by the way is amazing- they serve you mini baguettes and seasonal butters with your meal. And have dishes like bacon wrapped bacon and over a dozen types of bloody mary’s. The staff there is so friendly too!!