Last week, I attended a fun dinner up in Hermosa Beach where six chefs gathered to prepare a meal, together! The venue was Abigale’s, and the event, Kitchen Takeover, and takeover they did.
The restaurant was sold out for the night and I got a peek inside the kitchen where the six chefs had to share space. Given that it wasn’t very big, I was amazed how calm and collected everyone was and how smoothly everything felt.
While we waited for the evening to begin, we started with cocktails in the highly innovative and creative bar. The decor was eclectic, though leaning towards hipster chic, but nevertheless, perfect for the space which punk bands used to come and play.
My party sampled an array of drinks including Penelope ($11), a Serrano-chile infused tequila (made in-house) paired with grapefruit and agave, Keenan76 ($11), a sweet drink using Nolet (gin), St Germain, grapefruit and sparkling wine.
Before dinner, tray-passed appetizers made their way around the crowded room created by Chef Tin Vuong of Abigale. The first thing I popped into my mouth was P.I.G pop tarts, a pastry stuffed with smoked pork confit, bacon, and gruyere. Don’t ask me what the PIG stood for, but like a true pig, I took another after swallowing the first.
The next to arrive was Scallops Dynamite Tempura drizzled with a passion fruit bacon dressing. I like how they work here, not afraid to use bacon! This was so delicious I’m afraid I popped about three or four of them into my mouth.
Korean Pulled Pork Bao was seriously tasty and I found them to be as good (not in the same way) as those baos from Momofuku. The fresh kimchi was mild and added a fresh crunch to each mouthful. I tried to find another but sadly, there were none left.
My least favorite of the appetizers was Confit Duck Egg Roll served with a salsa verde resembling a chimichurri in aesthetics but not in taste. The salsa was on the bland side and the duck was too mushy for me.
There was also a seared ahi tuna in a ponzu sauce which was mouthwatering and appetite whetting.
By the time we sat down for dinner, my tummy was already pretty content. Seriously, I wasn’t sure how I was going to eat six courses and hoped that they would be small tasting plates.When Crispy Prawn with Orange XO Hollandaise (by Tin Vuong , Abigale) arrived, I marveled at the pretty plate. The Asian flavors were very pleasing to me and the combination of red rice, lamb bacon, Dungeness crab and pea tendrils worked surprisingly well together.
The second course was by actor Dean McDermott, The Gourmet Dad) where he looked to his Scottish heritage and prepare his take on Haggis over Neeps & Tats. Keeping in mind that McDermott is not a professional chef, his dish was very respectable. The haggis needed a touch of salt, however, I commend him on the use of spices to offset any of the offensive gaminess usually associated with a poorly prepared haggis. I enjoyed it!
My least favorite course was this one from Jorges Valines of Venice’s Code Venice. Confit chicken leg was bland as was the mofongo — mashed plantains — and the salsa criolla didn’t do much to help with flavor. The best part of the dish was the crispy chicken skin served alongside.
The northern beef curry and egg noodles was something I’m very familiar with, although the ones I’ve had are not as thick in consistency. I loved the tender beef in the bowl which melted in my mouth. Jet Tila of The Charleston, Santa Monica also added julienned kaffir lime leaves to give it that ubiquitous Thai aroma I adore.
By the time Tony DiSalvo, executive chef of Santa Monica’s Viceroy‘s soy braised beef cheek arrived,I was already stuffed. I was really sad because the sausage was absolutely divine with nice textures and great flavor. The slice of beef tongue was also fork-tender and the addition of green apple, lime and jalapeno cilantro helped add freshness to the end result.
Dessert by Emily Collisson of Montage Beverly Hills was tocino del cielo, a take on the Spanish flan-like dish. The wedge of cooked custard was too sweet for me but the pimento flakes, charred pear and candied pine nuts were decent.
It was fun to see a bunch of chefs come together and have a good time cooking for people who love food. Even though dishes were hit and miss, I still enjoyed myself tremendously! Fun times!
1301 Manhattan Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254