Thursday’s opening event at LA Food & Wine was inspired by the upcoming Amazon original series, “Eat The World with Emeril Lagasse.” The beautiful red carpet running the length of Grand, laid out before the gorgeous backdrop of downtown LA, held a tempting assortment of global cuisines.
Filipino food is having its moment, and Chef Barb of B Sweet’s plate of chicken adobo and pork sisig was a concentrated jolt of all of the Filipino flavors I love. Just across the carpet, Egg Slut’s Chef Alvin Cailan’s pancit with egg noodles highlighted an entirely different range of Filipino flavors. Butter flavored with calamansi, a tangy Filipino citrus fruit, cured egg yolk and scallions completed the dish.
The host of the night, Chef Emeril Lagasse, wowed the crowd with Asian-inspired spicy fried chicken wings with hot chile oil. There was a lot of discussion about the spiciness, or lack of, but I found them plenty hot.
Mexico was well-represented, with some original spins on traditional dishes. Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras won our top taste of the event with a duck confit, in mole negro, served with a foie gras torchon. When I gushed about the torchon he served last year, the chef gave me extra. Bonus.
Chef Andre Bienvenu of the always popular Joe’s Stone Crab absolutely blew me away with the light-as-a-feather masa enveloping pork tamales topped with queso pimento and salsa verde. He cooked the tamales in giant muffin tins filled with broth instead of steaming them.
The most modern dish was probably Chef Jason Dady’s elote mousse, evoking Mexican street corn. The mousse topped halves of fresh lime, which we were instructed to squeeze before eating the mousse. The lime was a bit intense, but it was a fun presentation. Loteria Grill’s Chef Jimmy Shaw was in his element. The blue corn masa tortillas filled with beer-braised beef shank in adobo were as flavorful as they were succulent.
Chef Fabian Gallardo and Chef Walter Manzke served a refreshing aguachile with homemade clamato, gulf prawns, chiltepin (small chiles that resemble berries), radish, onion and cucumber for Republique and Petty Cash Taqueria. A ceviche-style seafood salad bursting with tender pink shrimp was created by John Tesar of Knife at the Highland.
Chef Jason Paskewitz of The Blanchard in Chicago delighted us with a Cromesquis, a classic French hors d’ouvre similar to a croquette. The fried cromesquis, which we were instructed to eat in a single bite, contained a sweet-savory filling of foie gras, powdered chocolate, brandied cherries, and black truffles.
We enjoyed the cocktail Andrea Borgen of Barcito mixed in honor of Eater’s Young Guns. The “Smoking Young Gun” included Famous Grouse Scotch, fernet branca, ginger syrup, angostura bitters.
An honorable mention goes to Chef Fabio Viviani’s Coccoli with prosciutto di san daniele, truffle honey and straccino cheese, which looked amazing, but ran out just as we decided to brave the formidable line.
Chris Ford’s assorted madeleines, macaroons and chocolates exploded with flavor, giving a delicate but powerful end to a night of decadence.