All Star Sustainability Summit at UCLA

As the LA Locals leader for Chefs Collaborative, I recently co-organized and MC'd one of the most challenging and fulfilling events of my career. In tandem with LA Times Food Bowl, we partnered up with UCLA and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch for an incredibly riveting (and delicious) day of celebrating sustainability.

Our content was diverse and dynamic. Our speakers included top chefs, food professionals, ranchers, fishermen and university professors. Many of these folks are my heroes and include Pulitzer Prize Award Winning Food Critic Jonathan Gold (LA Times), Chef Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill Restaurants), Chef Neal Fraser (Redbird), Chef Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish), Chef Nyesha Joyce Arrington (Chefs For Human Rights Foundation), Chef David LeFevre (MB Post, Fishing With Dynamite, The Arthur J), Chef Christian Page (Cassell's Hamburgers, Hotel Normandie), Sheila Bowman & Matthew Beaudin (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Chef Michael Hung (Mama Lion), and no BS the list goes on! I also had the pleasure of meeting a very talented and passionate photographer named Carolina Korman who was so kind as tp provide me with the lovely photos in this post.

Our audience kicked ass and stayed attentive and enthusiastic for four hours of talks on subjects including grassfed beef, holistic ranching, humane treatment of humans in the restaurant industry, preserving our ocean's fisheries, and of course, the role that the consumer plays in cleaning up our filthy fucked up food system.

As my partner in crime Corie Brown likes to say, you'll never attend a Chefs Collaborative event that doesn't end with a kick ass party! Side note: Corie welcomed me to LA with open arms three years ago. She's a Chefs Collaborative board member and the mastermind behind this entire day. 

...so, after it was all said and done, we threw a gangster food & beverage event with eats from all the top chefs that participated in our panel discussions, as well as some of my DTLA FAM including Brandon Parker & Dan Coury (Spread Mediterranean Kitchen) and Michelle Lainez (Chef Michelle & Company). 

My restaurant crew from Preux & Proper came through and held it down correct, and I gots to give them all a huge shout out: our manager Victoria Lane was the EP of the entire event and worked tirelessly for weeks to make sure this whole thing was executed to perfection, our bar manager Kassady Wiggins came correct with some killer craft cocktails, our Sommelier Sean Beckner-Carmitchel curated an incredible selection of sustainable wines, our bar back Eric Sebastian popped cold ones for guests while popping cold ones for himself, and two of my main kitchen dudes Javi and JL ran our food booth, putting it down on our infamous Beef Heart Pastrami Toast with Shaved Trinity, Lemon, Garlic Confit & Domingo Rojo Beans. Stay tuned cuz the CC LA Locals are just getting started!

Revealing The Power of Food at the LA Kitchen

My big homie Robert Egger moved across country from DC with his wonderful wife Claudia a few years ago to start the LA Kitchen. He continues to be an inspiration to me and all of those around him. Robert's leadership and innovation within the nonprofit sector have benefited America for the past three decades. He's also an author, an incredible speaker, an activist and a James Beard Foundation award winner. 

I truly believe in his work and do everything I can to continue to learn about his passions, processes and procedures. It's all so fascinating to me. I always feel lucky to be in his presence, so when he asked me wine and dine thirty philanthropists in hopes of garnering their financial support to keep LA Kitchen moving forward, I jumped at the opportunity!

I had a super enthusiastic and hard working team of his culinary students who held me down all night long. The biggest treat of the night was getting to cook with my homie Stevie Hacker. We met in Boston when I hired him to work in my kitchen. He was green but more ambitious than anyone I'd ever hired. He worked his ass off and went from Garde Manger to my Chef de Cuisine. He's a damn good cook and now he's out in LA doing his own thing. We haven't cooked together in a year so this was like a little reunion for us. Coincidence? I think not! It's all thanks to Robert Egger and all of the great folks over at the LA Kitchen. Much love to Robert for revealing the power of food in every way imaginable.

Guy's Grocery Games Supermarket Masters Tournament

My big homie Guy Fieri invited me back to his Grocery Games to compete in a 5 episode Supermarket Masters Tournament. My first episode airs on March 12th and lets just say you might wanna tune into the Finale on April 9th.  Much love to all the competitors, cast and crew!

All Star Chefs Classic—Southern Eats + Grill & Chill

This year I was invited to cook at All Star Chefs Classic for their Southern Eats event. The whole crew at Preux & Proper was MAD excited, yo! We came through and had a blast sharing our cold smoked andouille sausage (made with Peads & Barnetts pork) served with bacon fat gorditas, marjoram and a sea island red pea ragu (Anson Mills).

The next day was the Grill & Chill event and I came back to give a helping hand to my homie Joseph "JJ" Johnson, Executive Chef of Minton's in Harlem. He put it down on a ganster Frogmore Stew with clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, linguica, corn & potatoes. Sounds traditional, right? Peep this: JJ's know for adding West African flavors and techniques to Southern food, so, he tossed his Frogmore with a curry paste he made with dried shrimp, ginger, turmeric, chilis and thai basil. It was off the chain. Hands down the best Frogmore I've ever had.

Baby Dexter

As if having two Siberian cats isn't enough (Popeye & Bruno) I took a trip to my beloved cat breeder Cindy DeWolfe to get a brand new baby kitten! Introducing baby Dexter. Now I'm a cat Dad of three...

Jimmy Kimmel Live—Cocktails & Pie

My bar manager Kassady Wiggins was invited to make cocktails at Jimmy Kimmel's annual backyard cookout with chef Adam Perry Lang. They also requested she bring her Mamma's famous Key Lime Pie as dessert (you can get a slice at Preux & Proper when available). 

Kass and I had a blast developing what we thought would be the perfect cocktail to pair with BBQ. Inspired by Root Beer, actually, Sarsaparilla to be exact, we infused Ketel One with green cardamom, clove and star anise. Then we mixed it with a vanilla bean + sassafras simple syrup, served it on a huge rock of ceylon cinnamon ice, topped it with a ginger foam and kissed it with some hickory smoke. It was fucking awesome! Adam's BBQ was outstanding and Jimmy was even funnier in person.