A Winning Preview of What to Expect at Today’s ‘Masters of Taste’

Photos by Monique A. LeBleu – The N.Y. Strip Steak with Bordelaise, braised mature pea shoots, yellow pea sprouts, and English pea tartlet at the 4th Annual Masters of Taste preview in the Rose Bowl locker room and green room, Pasadena, California, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

UPDATED 4-7-19 12:30 a.m.

This year’s Master’s of Taste preview showcased seven select Culinary Masters with paired Beverage Masters as a sampling of what’s to come for the 4th Annual Masters of Taste, Sunday, April 7, 2019.

100% of the proceeds from Masters of Taste go directly to benefit Union Station Homeless Services (USHS) a nonprofit organization in Pasadena that is “committed to helping homeless men, women, and children rebuild their lives.”

For the preview event, guests were escorted past pop-up working kitchens and into the prestigious Rose Bowl stadium’s spacious locker and green rooms. Appointed elegantly for the event, these rooms, which have famously held top athletes, performers, and other dignitaries within its care, hosted the 100 plus journalists, influencers, sponsors, and non-profit Union Station Homeless Services’ team of staff and volunteers—the coming event’s sole beneficiary—in a sit down prix fixe menu designed as a sampling prelude to what we can expect from this year’s participating Masters at this year’s event.

Executive Chef Michael Hung of Faith & Flower, a participant in the event and the tasting, has the unique distinction of being chosen the very first Host Chef for Masters of Taste.

Prior to opening Faith & Flower in Downtown Los Angeles in 2014—which has been distinguished as “Best New Restaurant” by Esquire Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and Travel + Leisure—Chef Hung’s illustrious career includes time spent with Traci Des Jardins’s James Beard Award-winning team at San Francisco’s Jardinière and overseeing the kitchen at Roland Passot’s Michelin-starred La Folie. He then opened the highly-acclaimed Viviane in the Avalon Hotel Los Angeles, then started his own full-service consulting, culinary and hospitality company Ardour Hospitality in 2016.

Kumamoto oysters with saké cream by Chef Florent Courriol of Alexander’s Steakhouse at the 4th Annual Masters of Taste Preview in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

The evening’s entirely delicious and varied menu, which was coupled with Beverage Master pairings, began in the cocktail room with cocktails such as the “East LA Spritz” by Bryan Chenault of Ventura Spirits, made with a locally distilled citrus floral Amaro Americano, East Imperial grapefruit tonic, and an orange twist, making a light and bubbly, low-alcohol cocktail. Passed around were Kumamoto oysters with saké cream by Chef Florent Courriol of Alexander’s Steakhouse. As well, a plant-based “Green Goddess” pizza of roasted broccoli, pumpkin seed pesto, plant craft cashew mozzarella & ricotta, avocado, sprouts, and basil, with shiitake mushroom added, was past around courtesy of The Pizza Plant.

At the bar, a refreshing “Kami of Dawn” inspired cocktail by Beverage Master and Head Barman of The Raymond 1886, Cameron Masden, made with “Juniper-forward” Japanese KI NO BI Dry Gin, yuzu syrup, lemon, passion fruit, chartreuse, uniquely topped with a Coedo Marihana Session.

Masden, who has participated for several years at Masters of Taste, was looking forward to heading up the center bar that occupies the 50-yard line in the center of the green.

“I think this is going to be the best year yet,” said Masden. “I think everyone is behind the cause and we all love getting together that day!”

In the dining room, the prix fixe menu opened with Jonathan Aviles of Salazar presenting his Coctel de Camaron of wood-grilled U-10 shrimp, house cocktail sauce, and pico de gallo or tomatillo, Fresno Chile, and red onion, which was paired with a Nuestra Solidad Mescal by the Bar Back Project.

An ethically produced Mexican distillate that comes from Oaxaca, Regional Manager H.E. Greer of the Bar Back Project said of the Mescal and other liquors and distillates they distribute, “As we support families, it is very important for [Bar Back Project] to not only know not what the flavor is but to know what that company is and what that money does. Make sure you are drinking ethically.”

As it was Fat Tuesday, in honor of  Mardi Gras, Chef Sammy Monsour of Preux & Proper and South City Fried Chicken, served a mildly spicy New Orleans-style seafood gumbo pot with whole shellfish indigenous to the Louisiana coast and bayous, such as crawfish, in a rich roux thickened exclusively by okra, and paired with paired with an O’Melvaney Red Ale.

During the festivities, Master of Ceremonies Susan Hirasuna introduced participating Culinary, Dessert and Beverage Masters, as well as members of USHS who each spoke on the importance of the annual fundraiser. As USHS top-most fundraising effort to date, in the last three years, Masters of Taste has raised over $1.5 Million in support their life-saving programs.

“We don’t just get people housed, Said Anne Miskey, CEO of USHS. “We get people back
into stability. Back into hope.”

The 4th Annual Masters of Taste preview in the Rose Bowl locker room and green room, Pasadena, California, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

Chef Jon Hung of The Raymond 1886 prepared a Seared Sea Trout topped with a citrus caper sauce and golden raisins with mildly curried black lentil caviar, paired with a San Simeon Sauvignon Blanc ’18  presented by Russell Shin.

Brother to Hung, Host Chef Michael Hung served a N.Y. Strip Steak with a classic “French bordelaise sauce,” along with a tartlet of pea greens, yellow sprouts and “pea shoots” from the mature greens of the pea plant sauteed in butter and topped with his “secret weapon crushed wasabi pea, just enough to make it savory.”

Ending the evening was a creamy-smooth, Red Velvet Mini-cupcake by Master John Hensley of Lark Cake Shop, which in its mild sweetness paired very well with a glass of strawberry brandy from Bryan Chenault’s Ventura Spirits, along with Artisan chocolates presented by Joe Terpoghossian of Mignon Chocolates with a Matcha Green Tea truffle—a white chocolate matcha green tea infused ganache with a dark chocolate shell with and their signature Ginger Seasalt, a dark chocolate ganache infused with ginger topped with lime sea salt.

The Red Velvet mini-cupcake by John Hensley of Lark Cake Shop paired with Strawberry Brandy by Bryan Chenault of Ventura Spirits at the 4th Annual Masters of Taste preview in the Rose Bowl locker room and green room, Pasadena, California, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

With each annual USHS fundraiser, 100% of the proceeds goes directly to benefit Union Station Homeless Services (USHS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that commits itself to helping homeless men, women, and children “rebuild their lives”  by providing an array of services, such as “street outreach, meals, shelter, housing, case management, and career development.”

Masters of Taste 2019 is at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive. The VIP Power Hour held is from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and General Admission is from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tickets are close to selling out and the event is only available for guests 21+ and over.

UPDATE: 4-7-19 Masters of Taste is sold out. For more information on Masters of Taste 2019 please visit the Masters of Taste website.



About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, and shameless foodie and wineaux. A love of film history and a background in film production, post-production, and film theory provide unique insights into her movie reviews. As well, a background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food—the world's best Mac n' Cheese!
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One Response to A Winning Preview of What to Expect at Today’s ‘Masters of Taste’

  1. Great job! Gorgeous pictures!

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