Monday, May 17, 2010

Taste of the Nation - Preview Fundraiser @ Synder Diamond

Last Monday Taste of the Nation Los Angeles held a preview fundraiser at Snyder Diamond in Santa Monica featuring cooking demonstrations by Laurent Quenioux of Bistro LQ, Walter Manzke (ex Church & State) and Quinn Hatfield of Hatfields restaurant. A crowd of 100 foodies came to see the cooks each demonstrate and serve a dish and support the cause of ending childhood hunger in America, which is the mission of Share Our Strength. Quenioux and Hatfield are pictured above and Manzke is pictured below.

This event sponsored by the host Snyder Diamond and by Angeleno Magazine, was one of several preview events designed to raise money as well as awareness about the main event in Culver City on June 6. You can buy tickets here.

Before the cooking demonstrations began, attendees mingled, drinking wine and sampling cheese from the Cheese Impresario. The featured cheeses were all from Wisconsin and generous portions were served. A highlight for me was the 10 yr aged Hook's Cheddar, from the same cheesemakers who created the 15 yr I wrote about previously. It was great to speak with someone so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about cheese.

The first cooking demo featured Chef Quenioux's Wild Mushroom Tapioca, Mirabelle Plum Coulis, Tonka Bean Chantilly, which had an interesting texture and was served in small cups which showed off the multiple layers of the dish. This was followed up by Chef Manzke's Alsatian Tarte Flambee, which he demonstrated in front of and then cooked in an amazing oven. It is a savory flatbread with bacon, onions and cheese. I did not sample it due to the bacon but those around me were looking for second helpings.

The last demonstration was Chef Hatfield making a signature item, his Croque Madame with Hamachi, Proscuitto, Quail Egg. He described it as "a simple dish that relies on product." He originated this dish when he worked at Rocco DiSpirito's Union Pacific, in the Flatiron District in New York City. Due to its labor intensiveness he could not produce it on short notice for Rocco, so he was able to keep this signature dish for himself. He said that the "ham plays like soy sauce but the fish plays like cheese in a ham and cheese." I did not try this dish either but it looked beautiful with the tiny quail eggs atop the little sandwiches. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

In addition to the three chefs, Devin Pedde and Chris Owens (pictured below), from Intelligentsia Coffee in Silverlake and Venice, respectively, were on hand to provide samples and discuss coffee. Their third Southern California location will be opening later in Pasadena, but no opening date has been announced publicly yet. Intelligentsia was one of the sponsors of the event.

Check the Taste of the Nation website for more information about upcoming events, including the 2010 Taste of the Nation Los Angeles in Culver City on June 6th.

Bistro LQ: 8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. Phone: (323) 951-1088‎
Hatfields Restaurant: 6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. Phone: (323) 935-2977‎
Snyder Diamond: 1399 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA. Phone: (310) 450-1000

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