Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Culinary Institute of America Alumni Mixer, Long Beach .

Behind these mystical looking doors lies Lori Daniel's home, meeting space for C.I.A.'s alumni mixer in Long Beach, CA.  The LA food trucks; Kogi, Let's Be Frank, Pizzeria Olio, and Coolhaus Ice-Cream were serving hor d'ouevres at a house that had complimentary valet parking.  I registered a month in advance. 

The house was amazing.  From afar, I thought the water in the picture below, was a Koi pond at first.  I changed my mind when I saw the steps and realized it was a hot tub.  I guess I'm used to the tubs that are public at a friend's apartment complex with stainless steel hand-railings that would be cool to grind on rollerblades if there wasn't water in the landing.

We toured the house starting at the bar, and moved through the swivel staircase out to this cozy balcony.  It was lined with turf, the best grass for a downtown area, cozy chairs, and was shaded.   I gave it five stars and the award for, favorite room of the house

As clean as I look here, I still can't hide the blader in me, with the white bandage on my hand.  One of the rare ocassions I cleaned up, got a hair cut, to match the classy glass of wine.  

Or maybe its cause I hang out with good looking people.   That's Michelle, my southern california foodie partner in crime.

I admit it, I got starstruck.  I'm a fan of Bravo's television show: Top Chef.  One of the Chef's, who's work I dig, and had a memorable personality, was Marcel

While Michelle and I were looking around, across the garden, I saw him.   I couldn't control myself.   The first words that spilled out of my mouth, " You're on Top Chef!"   I'm a fan but not a fanatic, so I was unaware that he was a CIA alum.  I wasn't mentally prepared to see him. 

From a personal standpoint, I like it when I meet a stranger who knows my blading work, so it was an awesome feeling to do that for someone who I respect in a different industry.  We hung out for a bit (Chef's are still people).  We moved on and enjoyed the rest of the event.  Although I did have OMG moments through out the night and reminded Michelle, that he was on Top Chef, every time we crossed paths.   

Lee Kum Kee representative, Chef Danhi even made an appearance presenting the amazing depth of flavors from Lee Kum Kee products. 

Lemongrass, papaya, with grilled chicken and sriracha on the side.  Spice was optional and I made the decision to add it... twice. 

This Chef was serving crispy sweet plantains with a Peruvian ceviche that added moisture to the dry chip.

The bar was simple.  I stuck to wine, reminiscent to being in Napa, at Greystone, before I was alum.  

I boozed...

       I schmoozed....

                      and of course, I ate. 

Roasted Red BellPepper, Sausage, Cherry tomatoes, and Goat Cheese

Kogi's bbq tacos.  If you like spicy, my mouth was burning afterwards.  The meat was extremely flavorful. 

It was impossible to shake hands with everyone that night.  We made conversation with whoever was willing to make eye contact.  Most of the conversations were about the campus when they were students and I shared the difference when I was a student.  Post CIA life, most of them went on and became chefs, while other people had stories of how they had to leave the industry because the amount of difficulty it is to stay in the profession and have kids. 

President Tim Ryan gave a talk and updated everyone on CIA present day and how the 3rd campus in San Antonio was added.  

The night was ending, I was ready for dessert at the build-it-yourself ice-cream truck.  

Pistachio, truffle ice-cream in double chocolate chip cookies.  Who puts truffle into their ice-cream?  What an amazing idea. Michelle got a balsamic ice-cream which was better than mine. The Balsamic was a nice tart kick with all of the sweet food.   

I'm a firm believer in the concept that Enthusiasm is contagious.  I bring this up because after the event, speaking to fellow foodies who are passionate and excited about what they do, and to taste it in the food, had me reenergized and refreshed.  I was ready to face the stressful job that I do, and continue on my journey to producing quality work and being bigger than just a chef.

After sandwiches we left and met up with the boys from out of town.