The inaugural All-Star Chef Classic brought in some of the world's best chefs to LA this weekend for a three-day, four-event blowout weekend. The French showed why they're masters on opening night, with Ludovic Lefebvre (Trois Mec) and two of his mentors, Alain Passard (L'Arpege) and Marc Meneau (L'Esperance), along with Florian Bellanger (MadMac) and Paris 'it' chef Iñaki Aizpitarte (Le Chateaubriand), all cooking a five-course feast in the never-before-seen "restaurant stadium." With so much star power, the main attraction was definitely the lavish kitchen with its giant TV screens overhead, with camera people filming the chefs speaking French to each other (few, if anyone else, knew what they were saying half the time) while cooking our meal.
There were chansons, toasting, appearances by chefs in the audience - Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie & Ted's), Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza), Nancy Oakes (Boulevard), Gavin Kaysen (Cafe Boulud), Vinny Dotolo (Animal) and Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn), to name a few, all of whom were participating in the weekend. An army of servers dropped plates and poured wine in the arena-like seats and tables. It was equal parts cooking show, demo and dinner party, with a lot of Ludo thrown in. He was the host, after all. Some highlights included Passard's white shoes (so dapper), and the fast-working blue hands from the team of chefs, showing that the California glove law might be silly but at least it's colorful.
The next day, the ladies took the stage for an afternoon lunch, which we heard was run like a tight ship, with Silverton, Oaks, Crenn, Naomi Pomeroy (Beast) and Waylynn Lucas (Fonuts) at the stoves. The evening walk-around tasting, the Grill & Chill, featured 10 chefs serving grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. On Sunday, the weekend concluded with Savor the Season, a celebration of spring bounty, and by the looks of what we saw on various Instagram accounts, it was as beautiful as it was delicious. All in all, the weekend proved to be a enough that we hear they're already planning next year. Here's a look at our five favorite bites from the two events we hit, with a few extra sights thrown in for fun.
Alain Passard created a beautiful vinaigrette for petit vegetables. "Simple isn't easy," Lefebvre reminded the audience. "This sauce took a long time, you guys. This is why French food is not cheap."
Brown butter makes everything better, including asparagus with citrus. This was the perfect balance of everything, courtesy chef Aizpitarte (who could double for a young Nick Cage, if you ask us).
A sea of blue gloves in Restaurant Stadium. Thanks, California Glove Law!
While talking to a few people, we literally stopped mid-sentence after Bellanger's citrus Napoleon hit our tongue. The surprise plate of petit fours were equally fantastic.
Michael Cimarusti was at his station shucking beautiful briny Naked Cowgirl oysters from Hama Hama, Washington on Saturday. Most went on the grill, however we were able to sneak a couple of raw ones. They were the perfect offset to the meatier options at the Grill & Chill event.
Cimarusti, drinking beer, shucking oysters.
Visiting from Portland's Beast restaurant for the Chill & Grill, Naomi Pomeroy served an incredibly barbecued lamb rib made with Szechuan cucumber salad. The glaze was made from burnt honey and fish sauce, creating one deliciously sticky rib.
Dominique Crenn from SF's Atelier Crenn, donned a fuzzy sweater and decided to help Josiah Citrin at his cooking demo on Saturday night.