James Beard NYC with JOEY in Los Angeles

A James Beard Sneak Preview

iPhotos by Dawn Garcia
Carondelet House | 627 S Carondelet St. | Los Angeles, CA 90057
An evening that was set much like the stage for an exquisite performance, tonight would be precisely that. Arriving in the heart of Los Angeles at a house that distinguishes itself from the onset: a rustic European-like charm with the history and candor of the days of Hollywood glamour. Gorgeous interiors boasting nuances of old world and new, with the festive essence created by those from the JOEY Restaurant Group. Great care has gone into this evening’s preview of the James Beard Dinner happening later this month in New York.

At first impression, everyone loves to work with Chef Chris Mills. It’s also clear that everyone at JOEY is oddly happy to be a part of a truly rare community of people working together.

“Everyone has a sense of ownership”, seems to be the theme from each JOEY team member I spoke with. From the Wine Aficianado to the GM’s to the Marketing Directors and Creative Consultants, even the servers seem genuinely happy to work together. It’s exceptional.

So tonight’s dinner was something of a wondrous rarity. In honor of a prestigious invite, Chef Chris Mills decided to give us Angelenos a glimpse into what he has planned to cook at the James Beard House for a third time in his career, this November in New York. Tonight’s fare will consist of a marriage of two regions of Tofino and Los Angeles, with a trace of street food and exotic flavors. As an added incentive, Chris saw the opportunity to extend this experience to some of the top talent and leaders within JOEY. Something that is very important to Chris as the Executive Chef of JOEY Restaurants is giving young talent opportunities to develop their skills. And, this time around, a few of us were privileged to get a glimpse of the menu these young chefs would create.

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“I was given many opportunities to grow as a chef in my career,” said Mills, “it’s important to me that we extend cooking at the James Beard House to our talented chefs who are leaders in their restaurants. I am excited to announce that we will be bringing one up and coming chef from the East and West with us to cook at James Beard. This is an opportunity to pass on knowledge and experience from our executive culinary team, to our leaders down to those just starting out with us in the culinary world.”

 

Now the menu and just what we thought:

WILD TOFINO TO VIBRANT LA

California Reception

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Great American Burger

This was a bite-sized take on the American classic though the flavors were anything but dull.

Boar Fat Fries

One glance at this and ones glands begin to salivate. Looking more like a spear of fried geometry, this fry was cooked with patience.

Baja Fish Tacos

These were presented in a trio of delicate delight and were rather airy and light.

Sushi Cones

Perfectly presented and the ponzu was what brought this bite together.

Korean Food Truck Cauliflower

I had to try this. Especially since it was Chef Mills who brought it out to me. He took the time to make certain there was nothing I was allergic to and tempted me with his passionate explanation of how this round ball represented an ode to food truck meets gourmet. It lived up to the hype.

 

COCKTAILS

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Guava Thyme

Refreshing and light. An ideal opening.

Super Sonic Gin & Tonic Lemon Sorbet

This was a really playful take on a classic. I’d definitely drink this regularly. I appreciate the sorbet as a twist on … a twist!

Ballas Point Skulpton

I didn’t have this but it was presented in a basin tub which visually, was fantastic.

Roeder Estate Brut Anderson Valley

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles. Need I say more? In essence this was a dry, crisp pour.

 

WEST COAST DINNER

Heirloom beet salad, avocado, Santa Barbara pistachios, mandaquat & ruby streaks

This is a beautiful beginning and the citrus sits so carefully throughout each component, each bite gets more colorful.

Riesling | Martins Lane | Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

{The Riesling was breathtaking – and I’m not a huge fan of riesling! This had crisp undertones of pear without that overt sweetness that can often overtake your palate.}

Tofino spot prawns, Baroda Farms artichoke ravioli, mint butter lettuce sauce

I wanted to fall in love with this dish but for me, the prawns were a bit too chewy. I was also missing that burst of flavor apparent in a prawn. I was deeply curious about the artichoke stuffed ravioli and it was certainly an elevated approach. What I was missing was a cut of citrus and perhaps even a dash of sea salt with a touch of cracked pepper to really enhance the natural flavors of everything.

Chardonnay | Au Bon Climat | Santa Barbara, California

{A well rounded Chardonnay (but I’m still going back to that Riesling!)}.

Monterey Bay Octopus “a la pancha”, fennel, dried olives, octopus bacon, smoked mayonnaise

Quite possibly the most sumptuous octopus I have ever had! This, for me, was the shining star. Flawlessly seasoned with the fennel and the most supremely harmonious batch of spices, this glided right against the tongue and gave the taste buds a reason to applaud. I cannot wait to eat this again.

Pinot Noir | “Domaine” | King Estate | Williamette Valley, Oregon

{A hearty Pinot Noir, this is why Oregon is known for this blend. Full of body, bold on the nose and rich in every sip.}

Snake Rivers Farms Wagu Ribeye, chanterelle mushrooms, Homboldt Fog blue potato gratin

Oh sweet Waygu … I practiced restraint but the ribeye cut like butter with the exact pinkness a truly well prepared cut of beef should. I enjoyed the play on potato gratin as well.

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market family style vegetables 

This array of veggies was lovely. The devotion to support local is something near and dear to Chef Mills and it shows.

Daou | ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon | Paso Robles

{Having had the great fortune of meeting the Daou brothers, I can tell you that the passion behind the wine and the commitment to being refined and authentic is apparent in every bottle. When Daniel gives you the story about the vineyard and the roots from their family and how that is infused into the wines, you can’t deny the quality. This is a remarkable wine from one of my absolute favorite regions for Cabs.}

British Columbia apple & toasted walnut pie, next level double caramel ice cream

While I had to forgo the pie, I was treated to this indulgent ice cream and there are only two words: holy cow!

Late Harvest Riesling | Eroica Gold | Chateau Ste Michelle | Washington 

{What a sophisticated finish to an unforgettable dinner.}

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My Final Take: The James Beard House in NY is in for a treat. This evening appealed to the most comforting elements of food in their most heightened and natural state. If tonight’s dinner is any indication of what November 14th will entail, you can be certain that as the menu continues to be perfected, the dinner will be one guests will continue to crave.

Special thank you to Layne Krienke, his team, and Sasha Perrin.

GrasonRatowsky-BAREMADE

Over the next four weeks, chefs from across the company will be competing for an experience of a lifetime – to cook along side Chef Mills at the prestigious dinner in New York. Each week contestants will need to illustrate not just their culinary talents but their abilities to be leaders and teachers in their restaurants. Specific focus areas will include innovation in training, informative research in proprietary products and an ability to lead focus training groups. These category winners will compete against each other in week four when we will announce the final winners from East and West who will win the ultimate prize of cooking at the James Beard House in New York.

On November 14, 2015, Chris Mills, Executive Chef of JOEY Restaurant Group, will be cooking at the prestigious James Beard House in New York for the third time in his culinary career.

The menu builds on Chris` culinary experiences as the Executive Chef of JOEY while also incorporating his own passion for the small surfing town of Tofino on the coast of British Columbia.

“It`s an honour to be invited back for a third time to the James Beard House,” said Chef Mills, “it couldn’t come at a more exciting point for us here at JOEY. With the opening of our first Los Angeles location, JOEY Woodland Hills, I thought this would be a great opportunity to honour West Coast cuisine from the wild and abundant coastal surfing town of Tofino to the cultural and vibrant city of Los Angeles.”

As a chef growing up on the West Coast the outdoors have always been close to Chris` heart. This year’s James Beard menu will highlight his passion for wild foods and farms. Near to Chris’ heart is sustainability and having a relationship with his food beyond the menu. When asked about a dish he was most excited to bring to James Beard Chris mentioned the USDA Prime New York Strip served with crispy mashed potato, chanterelle mushrooms and a Humboldt Fog blue potato gratin.

“We sourced our steaks from Snake River Farms, who we have a great relationship with.  I love their products and the care and attention to quality with everything they produce.  Additionally, I love serving foods that only grow in the wild and chanterelles are probably the tastiest mushroom out there and are abundant where I live. I gathered these ones myself for this course.”

For more, visit: www.joeyrestaurants.com | #JOEYRestaurants | #JOEYxJamesBeard

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