This insane stretch of packed deadlines and celebrations right between my flight from Tokyo and soon, to Boston and New York City makes me wonder how I’m alive. Wednesday was our Arquitectonica holiday party at the Perch in downtown LA, and Thursday was our Popcultivate dinner: “A splash of Christmas,” that featured Foodnetwork chef: Cheftofer… After 6 hours of baking matcha whoopie pies with another architect: Gabby Gertel, I’m working on publishing the recipe, while I’m shipping out some of these Christmas goods to SF and Tokyo and prepping for my team’s presentation on window wall sections. But heck, I’m hustlin’ through this holiday season because I know I can peacefully rest during my flight to Boston and train ride to New York City.
For the Splash of Christmas dinner, I tested my mini photo set up (a 16″x16″x16″ lightbox) for the first time! Hell, food photography and the entertainment industry is a deceivingly, dirty, chaotic job with tons of feisty tasks and people to work with. Firstly, I had to lay on the floor to take these shots next to the kitchen because of the outlets and dinner setup. Secondly, once filmographers and guests saw my setup and photos, a few followed me in to try to steal my angles and setups. (please everyone, get your own setup rather than steal art/work from others!) Lastly, more oil stains and wrinkles started to appear on my white backdrop, but I think the photos still turned out pretty legit! That’s straight up product / food photography in downtown LA for you ladies and fellas. Other than all these various struggles I’m getting used to, I’m really loving food photography, especially with all the perks of receiving the prettiest samples, props, ingredients, and meals. Who doesn’t love receiving seconds, thirds, from servers and Foodnetwork chefs?
And we finished the meal off with this gorgeous apple rose pastry with eggnog and raspberry syrup. I’m still dreaming of another bite of this. Thank you especially, server Nicole and co-host Patrick for being so prompt, attentive, and helpful to me with all the ingredients and meals.
Back to back was Arquitectonica’s holiday party at the Perch. A stunning private happy hour from 3-5 with my kickass architect partner, and a few favorite women: Christine, my college roommate, and Megan, my favorite personal on-site stylist/makeup artist. From 5-7 was our private dinner, and until midnight we mingled back on the rooftop. How does time fly this fast?
As mentioned before, I started getting involved in LittlemeatsLA. This time, I was called in last Friday to help host a 9-course umamikase (non-Japanese omakase) dinner for 11 guests with Colin Gardner, a renowned New York CIA alum chef /model who specializes in French and Italian gourmet cuisine and worked in Michelin restaurant: Melisse.
Aside from Colin spending days in advance preparing ingredients and sauces, the team (Colin, Billy, Michael, Nate, and I) hustled through 3 kitchens: 2 stoves, 2 portable burners, a grill, sous vide, blender, electric mixer, dozens of pots, pans, trays, cups, jars, bottles of wine and vodka, while also entertaining our 11 guests. Please forgive me for my lack of photos and understand that I had every limb occupied (shoulders with dslr/hand holding two Iphones to photograph and Snapchat, other hand busily chopping/saute-ing/garnishing, legs hustling to accommodate chefs and guest calls – and of course my mouth was either filled with samples of cocktails/condensed watermelons/tuna tartare/double creams/sorbets/poached peaches or busy talking and laughing with guests) Here’s some of the highlights of the night:
Condensed watermelon blocks with soy sauce, ginger, sesame seeds, a nectarine slice and sprig of shiso leaf.
Soft boiled egg on top of a nest of fried potatoes on top of chopped bell peppers, cauliflower puree that are all sprinkled with leek ash.
Salmon with heirloom tomatoes, lemon, olive oil, tobiko, beurre blanc.
Oysters with a smoked sriracha, topped with caviar.
Duck with butternut squash, charred cabbage puree, and sous vide poached peaches.
Hell yes, we killed that night. It was such a pleasure to work alongside Colin with such a great crew, while sharing our culinary/travel adventures over the table to our guests. Thanks Greg for helping with some photos and Robin for opening, welcoming, and also entertaining all of our guests while we were busy! And thank you guests for joining in with our fun filled adventures and conversations!
I highly suggest you to check the calendar and snag your own umamkase dinner tickets here!