One of Southern California’s premiere food events is coming up on Sunday, August 24 as PigOut 3.0 takes place at the California Scenario in Costa Mesa. Fifteen top chefs and seven top bartenders will be presenting their best in a benefit event for Inspire Artistic Minds, an organization dedicated to advance the skills, education and careers of those in Orange County’s restaurant industry. Chef Amar Santana, from Laguna Beach’s Broadway by Amar Santana, has been instrumental in helping create the event. At PigOut 3.0, he will be providing guests with dishes made from only 1 of 25 pigs that were made available nationwide from the Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project.
“I think it’s really neat about the Templeton Rye Project”, Chef Amar said. “I had heard about it online when the news was first released and I thought, ‘Wow, that sounds cool!’. I think for here, especially here in the United States, it’s one of the best ideas in the food industry. I feel that a lot of people would copy that and do the same thing, not just with pigs but you could do that with cows, you could do it with anything. Just like the way they do Wagyu beef cows in Japan, you give them the sake, the bottom of what their rice mash is, like they do with the mash so you know that’s really cool when they do that here with the mash before they distill the Bourbons. It’s just like the smartest idea. You’re feeding them the corn mash with alcohol from the fermentation process. What you end up getting is super-happy pigs who run around drunk but the can’t get out, they just get super fat, they eat everything! I mean, that sounds like the best life ever, you know what I mean? I want to get on the Templeton Rye Project and they can do that to me!”
He has several dishes he’s planned for the event. Chef Amar explained, “One of the things I’m going to be doing is, I kind of want to keep it simple because I want to let the pork speak for itself, so one of the dishes I’m going to do is a Carolina barbecued pulled pork. Basically I’m going to dry rub half of the animal, smoke it right here in the oven, just roast it over night, and then I’m just going to sprinkle over it vinegar, black pepper and a little sugar. I’m not going to use a heavy red sauce or anything like that. I’m going to serve that with a cornbread puree and then I’m going to do a sour orange mojo sauce. I’m going to just drizzle that on top. That’s one of the dishes that I’m doing. Then the next one I’m going to do is nice, juicy pork meatballs with foie gras. I’m going to serve that over parsnip puree. I’m also going to sprinkle some ‘everything spice’, like you would put on a bagel, dried garlic, toasted sesame seeds, over that”.
He has worked closely with Bobby Navarro, founder of the Inspire Artistic Minds organization. “Bobby Navarro and I are friends, he used to work for me at Charlie Palmer’s and also here, we’ve been really good friends. We care so much about the industry and Orange County. we started the whole PigOut event with Bobby and then he had this great idea of starting this organization with it called I AM, basically to give back to the culinary community, to the restaurant business, not just chefs in the kitchen but everything, from the front of the house servers who want to enhance their career and they want the organization to pay for them to become a sommelier, to take a course and educate themselves more. Or the cook who wants to go to pastry school for a week’s course just to learn pastries. Or the bartender who needs to go enhance her career, go somewhere, attend a seminar; that’s what the organization is doing. So they are helping those who want to further their education to be better in this industry. By doing that, it’s just going to make the restaurant where they work and the restaurant industry in Orange County stand out and to make it better than it used to be”.
The thought of tasting the Duroc pig from the Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project brings back memories for the chef. As Chef Amar told it, “I haven’t tried the product yet but I’m very excited. Once I get it and I start playing around with it and taste the meat, because even when I was growing up in the Dominican Republic there was a part of the island that was known for doing goat. It was roasted goat which they roast the whole thing, but what was so special about this goat was that they grew up on a farm where they raised a lot of oregano. The goats, all day long all they would eat was oregano. They would eat the whole farm’s oregano, that was their whole thing. Once you cooked this goat, you could taste the oregano like it was just rubbed fresh on top of it. It was so tasty! It was one of those memories that I remember, eating it over there when I was a young kid, but I never understood the ‘why’ of anything like that and now that I understand, it’s like ‘I wish I could go back there now and eat that goat again because now I understand that if you eat oregano, you’re going to taste like oregano!’”.
Proceeds of the benefit will go towards helping the Inspire Artistic Minds program. An auction also will be held at the event, for the attendees to get freshly cut, wrapped, packed and ready to cook parts of the Templeton Rye Duroc pig at home. Craft cocktails from the bartenders will be paired with many of the dishes. A pig farmer Q and A and a knife skills demonstration will also be on tap for the event.
PigOut 3.0 will be held on August 24, 2014 from 3 to 7pm. Purchases of a special VIP ticket will be able to attend a pre-event champagne reception at 2pm with the chefs, as well as a complimentary dessert item. Chef Amar summed up the event by saying, “Bobby’s doing it and I’m helping him out because it’s a part of the industry, it’s helping what we do to make everybody better.This is going to be a great event. I’ve been telling everybody about it. You get to eat everything pork, you get to drink and have fun!”.
Sunday, August 24, 2014 from 3 to 7pm
Event to be held at California Scenario (Noguchi Gardens)
611 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626