Saturday night is always the biggest and fanciest bash of LA Food & Wine. They weren’t kidding when they said, “Meat me at LAFW’s Great Steakout and BBQ.” Hosted by Curtis Stone of Gwen, it was a festival for carnivores. A few seafood and vegetable dishes made an appearance, but the night belonged to beef.
In fact, one of our favorite dishes was BBQ Unagi Donburi from Chef Wing Ho of Tao Asian Bistro, who grated flurries from a Hudson Valley Foie Gras torchon over the grilled eel, an unexpected but perfect matching. Chef Michael Passmore of Passmore Ranch won the Instagram wars with a photogenic Caviar Cone filled with crème fraîche, and Birdie G’s Cured Roe from Jeremy Fox’s new project, which glistened like jewels.
Chef Jason Prendergast of FIG in Santa Monica went all out with a buffet piled high with Smoked Beef Brisket, Dry-rubbed St. Louis Ribs, potatoes, sausage, grilled peppers, corn, and wild mushrooms. Their table could have been a stand-alone feast anyone would be pleased with. The super-tender boneless pork rib was my favorite meaty bite of the evening.
Chef Matthew Beaudin of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Elote Flan was delicate and pure, a welcome respite from the heavier dishes. Fresh Cajeta (a kind of dulce de leche) and popped corn made the creamy flan sweet and fun. Since the chef always brings a surprise, there was an accompanying sweet corn and mezcal shooter. Michael Corvino of Corvino Supper Club in Kansas City plated fresh cherry tomatoes with fennel juice, olive oil, and whipped tofu–yes, you heard that right–tofu! And it was delicious.
STK served a generous beef Filet “Lollipop” with Regier Farm Peach salsa accompanied by a cocktail called “Secret Affair” with Dulce Vida’s tequila blanco, lime, muddled watermelon and jalapeno. Chef Tin Vuong of Little Sister prepared grilled tenderloin with bo kho spices, beef fat rice, butter-fried garlic, and shallots. As always, the dish carried an explosion of spices. International flavors were also happening over at Dinner with Dres, whose chef, Andres Dangond, prepared a Wine-Braised Tenderloin with Sauteed Banana and aji (a spicy Andean cilantro chimichurri) on a mini arepa.
Of course, the barbecue was also on point. Chef Sammy Monsour of Preux & Proper, LA’s best New Orleans-style bar, made a Colorado Beef Rib Sandwich with a complicated barbecue sauce–P & Ps single barrel Knob Creek rye bbq sauce–as well as cookout slaw and zesty house pickles. We also loved the Brisket Burnt Ends and Creamy Polenta with pickled red onions and fermented chow chow from Chef Kyle Johnson of Bourbon Steak. Unfortunately, the chef couldn’t make it, but his team was friendly and right on mark. The famous Chef John Tesar of Knife Steakhouse sliced Aged dry-aged Texas Beef with Mechado Filipino Beef Stew and Carolina Gold Rice with Chimichurri.
SLAB BBQ’s Chef Burt Bakman pleased the palate with a Slow and Low Grilled Ribeye with pomme puree, demi glace, and shallots while Chef Max Hollomon of Horse Thief BBQ smoked pork belly and served it alongside apple-fennel slaw. That’s how the experts do it.
There is nothing better than pork belly, and we also feasted on Crispy pork belly and pickled cherries, scallions and fennel pollen from Chef Steve Samson of Rossoblu, a Sobe Pork Belly Cone with guava BBQ sauce, pork rinds, and “Pikliz” from Joe’s Stone Crab, whose Chef, Andre Bienvenu, also paired it with a cocktail, a Vodka Key Lime Martini with sugar crumbs.
South Bay local Chef David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach steakhouse The Arthur J served a hearty Fennel and Citrus Roasted Pork Shoulder with peach and shaved fennel salad and salsa verde. The evening’s host, Chef Curtis Stone of Gwen’s Butcher Shop and Restaurant, went for a less traditional protein, creating little appetizers from Chimichurri Rojo-Rubbed Leg of Lamb on damper flatbread with yogurt.
Barb Batiste served a steak and mashed potato from Big Boi and her dessert spot, B Sweet, partnered with Guinness to create The Fudgiest Brownie with Guinness-infused chocolate ganache. Valerie’s Confections’ Chef Valerie Gordon was also mixing alcohol with desserts with a stunning Mezcal sticky toffee pudding.
It was a good opportunity to try Guinness Blonde, brewed in Baltimore. You can taste the intensity of Guinness’ traditional yeast combined with strong American hops. It’s citrusy and biscuit with a deep golden color. It might not please fans of the bold Guinness stout, but it certainly beats any pilsner out there.
Once again, LA Food and Wine brought together a beautiful event with culinary delights and free-flowing drinks to create an evening of sophisticated hedonism.