Thursday, June 30, 2011

Los Angeles Magazine Pupu Throwdown: Neal Fraser vs. Mark Gold-Let's Get Ready to Pupu!!!

Last night I was invited by the Steve Valentine Group to attend Los Angeles Magazine's pupu throwdown at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica.Eric Greenspan of the Foundry and Brendan Collins of Waterloo and City had been handled by chefs Brendan Fraser of Grace/BLD and Mark Gold of Eva in previous match-ups. The challenge was to plate your best pupu--appetizers in the local lingo of the Hawaiian islands.

Despite the requisite Hawaiian leis when we arrived, there were no tired jokes about getting leid, that was a release...I mean relief.

All guests proudly wore their leis, even at the valet station on the way out. Taking things up a notch was eco-stylist and organic cookbook author Ani Phyo, wearing an edible dress.To quote Pitbull,"como?"

Ok, it was a dress made of organic materials, and edible. Ani practices what she preaches.She's here to help us reduce our carbon footprint, and to bring sexy back to vegan living. Edible dress!!!I can't believe I asked her,"what do you mean by edible dress...could you repeat that,Ani?" She did clarify. I love blogging.

Chef Haru Kishi has been making the scene these days. He's having a great year over at Chaya Brasserie and was taking in the competition on this perfect light and breezy beachside evening. It's Wednesday night in LA!

The crowd was having fun drinking mosquitos, a Hawaiian themed mojito, Hawaiian beers, and wine while chasing down the chefs' pupus.It was fun watching the servers try to fill up their trays and make it out of the cooking stations. Sorry guys, but smile, it's less work to have people attack your tray like animals than have to stroll around with such a burden.

Just for fun, chef Ray Garcia of Fig, the host of the evening, roasted a whole pig for his signature pork tacos.

A crispy, and juicy pig-skin rug

The pork tacos were excellent in this tacorazzo's opinion, I went back for several and grabbed some of chicharrones torn from the carcass.

Chef Neal Fraser was loose and ready for battle.

His spam banh mi was full of Hawaiian funk and flavor.

His other bite was a Hawaiian tuna poke,with wasabi Tobiko, and sambal crème fraiche, clean and balanced, the tuna shone bright.

Very pupu-like, Mark Gold's kumamoto oyster with pineapple, toasted buckwheat, and "espama" was a bold and aggressive dish. The "espama" was canned food funky in the nose, but tasted better than it smelled. Strange but creative.

The roasted foie gras with sushi rice, tea smoked plum and grated yuzu by Mark Gold also showed an edge in construction, and was a hit with the crowd.

1...2..Freddy's cooking for you..3...4...better ask for more

At the judges table, no one was snickering nor making pupu jokes, it was all about the business for Los Angeles magazine dine editor Lesley Bargar Suter, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurants, and Ed Kenney of Town Kaimuki restaurant in Honolulu.

When the event came to a close, it was Mark Gold who triumphed and will live to pupu another day.I was a little frightened by Mark's hat and stripped apron, if he had been holding some knives I would have ran....chef Freddy krueger.

Congrats to the winner, chef Mark Gold of Eva, and to chef Neal Fraser for a good show. Chef Ray Garcia, you make a mean taco, and LA Magazine always knows how to party. Big thanks to Steve Valentine for the invite.

Los Angeles Magazine Pupu Throwdown
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
June 29,2011

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