It was a brisk evening downtown last Saturday, but Lexus Live on the Plaza quickly heated things up. One of the grand culminating events of Wolfgang Puck’s four day benefit for Meals on Wheels, the tasting featured 30 of the country’s top chefs and wine pourings at every turn.
While LA Live may have lacked the romance of the previous location at the Universal backlot, my feet did not miss those damn cobblestones one bit. One thing I did miss though, was the gigantic tequila luge. While wine was plentiful, cocktails were not on the menu. Bouchon made up for it in part with their giant bivalve luge. They offered an assortment of fresh seafood, including shrimp and crab claws, but I just wanted to say bivalve luge.
The evening started off on a high note with Gumbo Ya Ya made by the master himself, Chef Paul Prudholmme. I was even more thrilled when I saw the pralines peeking out from individual napkins as if they were tucked away to sleep. Pork belly was big that evening, with Spago offering Braised Pork belly skewers along with miniature Lo-Gai-Mai, which I noticed many people unwittingly left on their plates. Masaharu Morimoto took the now-familiar pork in folded bao to its pinnacle with succulent pork belly and light fluffy bao.
There was also some interesting spicing going on, especially Indian spices on both Puck’s Kobe Beef Short Ribs, Akasha’s stunning Masala Braised Lamb Shank, which was served on grits, another theme of the night. Cold fish was also on the menu, with a surprising cold Arctic char from Nathan Eckhouse of South Gate, New York, and Scott Conant’s perfect hamachi. I told Scott Conant I had been afraid to approach him because he is such a hardass on “Chopped” and he joshed around and struck poses for me so I could get my photograph.
The more I attend these foodie events, the more i can see certain patterns, like awards I would give out. The most decadent definitely goes to Bouchon’s raw bar, the unusual dish that freaks out the dilletantes would have to be Ray and Stark’s Corned beef Tongue, which is now the only way I want to eat tongue. The mild-mannered tacos from Ben Ford that were just bursting with flavor, and the big showpiece, Lydia Shire of Boston’s massive lamb chops. They were so extreme, Wolfgang Puck teased her by adding another chop to someone’s plate, as if she were being stingy.