Each year, Chef Stuart Skversky’s fundraising effort “Stu and the Kids” brings the best of Los Angeles hospitality together to create an exemplary and abundant sampling feast of Asian and Asian-inspired flavors.
This year’s Stu and the Kids–now called Flavors of Asia–held in August this year at Chef Neal Fraser’s always vibrant, and stately venue, Vibiana, and shared courtyard with Redbird, was no exception.
The annual fundraiser provides L.A. foodies with a sampling of the best that Los Angeles hospitality has to offer, along with a variety of live entertainment and silent auctions to help raise funds. The fundraiser helps provides scholarships to assist in the continuing education and work experience opportunities for the Hill Tribe children in Chiang Mai and the Wat Don Chan school and orphanage in Thailand, where Skaversky volunteered for a time after visiting the region and falling for its people, food, culture, and country.
Throughout the space, guests were treated to a live DJ spinning both contemporary and old school danceable pop. On the landmark cathedral’s vibrantly lit stage, traditional Thai musicians performed near the edge of the stage and up close, providing ample opportunity for Instagramming. Additionally, Thai dancers performed as well in a variety of colorful traditional dress, mask, and headwear to fit themes from Wedding dance to War dance.
But the real star was the food.
Inside Vibiana, at the Jitlada booth, Chef Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong presented her Green Curry Chicken over rice. Tangy, distantly flavored with mint, and “mildly spicy” by her standards, the richness of the Thai flavors shined bright in Chef Singsanong’s famous curry, well-seasoned with a rich history of family cooking and love.
Chefs Dave Fernie and Joel Miller of E’Stretto, known for their sandwiches and salads, created a Raw Mushroom Salad. The mix of mushrooms, complemented by a citrusy and mildly spicy ginger sauce, was a tender and richly nutty alternative to challenge most any meat dish. Miller, who, as a returning participant, likes the creative challenge of the annual fundraiser.
Food Network celebrity chef Jet Tila and Chef Ali Tila, while promoting their book “101 Epic Dishes,” served a Salmon with cabbage slaw, herbs, and Palm Sugar Jam.
Savore Cuisine and Events’ presented a Koshihikari Congee with sweet shrimp, Koshihikari rice, chicken dashi, scallion, Thai basil, topped with a slow-cooked egg yolk and toasted sesame. Smooth, creamy, and dotted with some nice, perfectly chewy grains, was a real show stopper, to be sure.
Same Same Thai‘s slightly sweet and tangy beef waterfall nearly melted on the tongue, The Rose Cafe provided a spicy Thai Sausage with a cucumber salad, pickled chilies, complimented with a Tom Kha dressing and Thai basil, and Robert Dahni of Taste of Vietnam highlighted all the fresh ingredients to his Vietnamese Shrimp & crispy Pork Crackling salad, as well as Wolfgang Puck Catering with a Baja Striped Bass topped with its crispy skin and cooled with mango and cucumber. and Robert Dahni of Taste of Vietnam highlighted all the fresh ingredients to his Vietnamese Shrimp & crispy Pork Crackling salad.
Tender Greens‘ Shrimp Toast did not quite make the mark, but their Mango Turmeric Agua Fresca was delicious and refreshing in the 90-degree heat.
Fresh coconut water and shade umbrellas in the courtyard, and Chef Redbird’s cool indoor space at Vibiana, and provided much-needed respite from the heat, along with an endless list of refreshing drinks, such as a Txakolina & Peach Mint spritz, rosé, and red wine, a Yuzu Gimlet by W.P. Catering, and several chilled white and select reds from Terra Noble Wines presented by Alessandro Carlo Bermúdez of Crafts Spirits Cooperative. Bodega Wine Bar served cocktails as well, whose venue was the jumping-off place of the Stu and the Kids fundraisers.
Placed at several of the food booths, were testaments and thanks given to Skversky by students who have gone on to continue their education or transition through career experience programs.
Julaluk “May” Saetao, 19, the youngest of five siblings, who lives in Chiang Mai, north of Thailand in a small village where her parents are both farmers, said that she “loves studying English as she wants to study abroad to learn about other cultures and share hers as well” after she earns her degree in English for International Communications.
Goong, an orphan whose parents passed away within a span of four years, recently graduated with a higher certificate degree and has begun studying at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University to pursue a Bachelor’s in Management. She wants to become a teacher and currently volunteers at the Wat Don Chan.
Kee, from the Hmong Hill Tribe, has been one of “Stu’s kids” and student for the last five years. She currently assists Skversky in teaching the younger students at Wat Don Chan, has earned her scholarship, is in her third year at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University with a concurrent training at a company in Chiang Mai to pursue a career as an accountant.
.In the courtyard, Chef Neal Fraser of Redbird delivered fresh from his front door a delicious crispy Fried Smelt topped with Green Curry with Nuoc Cham. Holbox presented with Gulbi-gui Kanpachi Fish Tacos and Bar Amá also had their version of a Baby Street Elote of roasted baby corn which was rumored to be quite addicting. Can’t eat just one.
Chef Walter Manzke of République shared a spicy and fresh Grilled Prawn Taco with angel hair cabbage slaw, peanuts, and ginger. On display was “Baking at République: Masterful Techniques and Recipe” a new book by Margarita Manzke and Betty Hallock which they published just earlier in the year.
WP Catering‘s Beef Skewers of mildly spicy beef was cooled by a generous garnish of julienned fresh green papaya. Amanda Kuntee cooked up a frenzy in the 90-degree heat of her Chao Krung sweet Pad Thai with crispy pork belly or crispy tofu.
For dessert, Elisa Testone and Dustin Hodges of Saints & Sinners presented one “Sinner” – the creamy rich Tres Leche Cake accented with dragonfruit, and the “Saints” – a Coconut Crack Ball, a Yuzu Macaron, and sesame-rich dark chocolate in their signature bite-sized buttery tart shell topped with a Sesame Brittle. What was saintly and what was sinful is still debatable, but I sinned right then and there first and left the rest to be saintly later on. All were delicious.
As well, Ensaymada Project‘s light and lightly sweet Classic Cheese Cupcake and Cookie Good‘s amazing Creamsicle cookie paired well later on in the day with coffee, because I was FULL!