Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Part II - Monterey's " Sustainable Seafood Challenge"

Where was I? Back to last Sunday... my wonderful day at the Monterey Plaza Hotel to watch the Sustainable Seafood Challenge with Alton Brown and Sam Choy as hosts:


My front rows seat was directly in front of Nate Appleman, co-owner and Executive Chef of San Francisco's A-16 Restaurant. I've seen him on Food Network (Iron Chef), but I didn't know much about him. I wish I knew the name of his sous chef-- a darling young lady, whose parents were seated to my right.


This is "Nancy". Nancy's husband bought her a ticket to this event as a Christmas gift. She also has beautiful skin-- she was one of my most loyal and favorite facial clients for at least 13 years. Muhwaaaaaah, Nancy! She's also my foodie buddy and she knows a lot more about culinary skills and lingo than I do. I'm still waiting for Nancy to invite me over for one of her famous dinners. (Nancy reads my blog...hint, hint).

The 1 hour clock started ticking and the chefs were off to make their dishes for the judges.

Nancy and I were riveted to checking out the ingredients Nate chose for his menu-- trying to guess what he would make with them. Non-foodies don't understand that, do they?



Alton Brown being playful with Nate.


Sam Choy looks on as Nate prepares a cooked lobster. (I love lobster). If you look in the left corner, you can see that the clock has counted down with 47 minutes to go.


Does anyone like caviar? Feast your eyes on this! There's more to come on this can of glorified fish eggs...


Chef Nate is plating a seafood risotto. Notice the small bottle of 25-year old balsamic on the left. Nancy and I were licking our chops.


Aha! He's going to drizzle the balsamic over the risotto. Now, I'm starting to moan with desire...


Whoo-hoo! Chef has heard my whimpering and he made a small bowl of risotto and waved his hand to signify "help yourself". In a nano-second I was up and I unabashedly took the bowl-- much to the moans of envy from the folks in back. That's my new friend "Valerie" to my left...


Valerie has no shame, either. Chef handed her the All-Clad pan of leftover risotto...


Here's my bowl of Chef Nate's creation-- seafood risotto with lobster and caviar. Know what friendship is? It's letting my friend, Nancy, devour all of the caviar! Know what else? Other than the beluga caviar I once ate (and did enjoy) it's not really my "thing". Nancy doesn't like lobster, but she loves caviar. She also ate a dozen oysters, and had a huge grin on her face.
Yin and Yan, we were both very happy moochers. Yes, it was very tasty.


Valerie shared her risotto with total strangers. Get this...


Other celebrity chefs appearing at Cooking For Solutions include John Ash, Nate Appleman, Floyd Cardoz, Regina Charboneau, Sam Choy, Xavier Deshays, Jim Dodge, Joyce Goldstein, Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Tracy Griffith, Michael Nischan, Paul Rogalski, and Frank Stitt.

Presenting chefs include Tony Baker, Wendy Brodie, Benjamin Brown, Dory Ford, Thom Fox, Anthony Keen, Mary Pagan, Peter Pahk, Jerry Regester, Justin Robarge, Jeff Rogers, Cal Stamenov, Terry Teplitzky, James Waller and Ted and Cindy Walter.

After the awards were handed out (Nate won for best flavor)...


As Chef was packing up, Valerie looked at him to hand back the All-Clad pan.

"Take it!" he replied, waving his hand.

I wanted to cry. I looked at the bottle of 25-year old balsamic... and debated batting my eyes at him. I chickened out.

Valerie. She scored big time!

As for me... I rarely get to attend events like this. It was such a treat that my friend, Debra, gifted me with a ticket to see this wonderful event.

As for next year-- I can only hope that I find a ticket to next year's Seafood Challenge in my Christmas stocking.

You hear that, Valerie? I'm going to score a piece of All-Clad, too. (Yeah, right).

If any of you wonderful folks, who read my blog, come to visit Monterey... let me know. I feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful area that offers to many wonderful restaurants and that attracts so many celebrities. You can take me out to dinner! Seriously, I'd be happy to give you some recommendations, from a local's perspective.

There are many more photos that I'll need to organize and create as a slide show. These are just a few.

See you next year-- Nancy & Valerie!

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Monica H said...

Ooh, I'm jealous! I never would have asked for the pan or the balsamic either. I'm such a chicken, but so very lucky for her.

How was the risotto? I'm not into caviar either. But lobster? YES!

Culinary Wannabe said...

Oh wow! Ya'll really got in on the action!! I think this will be the start of a yearly tradition. :)

Kristen said...

How fun!

Kerstin said...

What a cool experience - thanks for sharing :)

Elyse said...

This just sounds like such an amazing time! And the food looks totally delish. YUMMY! I can't believe your friend scored an iron clad pan. Lucky!!

Phoo-D said...

Wow! It takes some serious hutspa to ask for the pan...I never would have thought of that. Looks like it was an incredible and delicious event. How fun!

Cheryl said...

That looks amazing, what a great fun time!

TheKitchenWitch said...

Oh my gosh! I followed you over from Phoo-D, and I am already in love with Valerie, that cheeky girl! She scored an All-Clad pan!!!! Awesome!

cali chic said...

what an amazing event. lucky you. I am originally from california, and I miss it so! (ps. kudos on vying for some good meals ;) haha)

CarolMarie said...

The young woman you commented on in May 2009 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cooking for Solutions is my daughter, Beth Ann Simpkins. Thank you for the complements. She will be in charge of A16 Tokyo kitchen, opening September 1st.

Elsa said...