Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Krista Simmons

A few tasty tidbits on Sunday's Cochon 555 event

Bacon! St. Vibiana’s has seen many makeovers, transforming from an ultraslick nightclub into a tween-friendly prom venue, or from an immaculate wedding chapel into a medieval masquerade ball in a matter of days. This Sunday, the Baroque-inspired cathedral will morph again, this time into a shrine of swine, as Brady Lowe and his traveling porkapalooza, Cochon 555, roll into downtown.

The inaugural Los Angeles event is a carnal gantlet for pork lovers, where five heritage pig farmers and five vintners are paired with five local chefs. Each chef is then challenged to create a snout-to-tail feast for 400 guests, who will serve as judges alongside a selected panel. The goal is to introduce patrons and chefs to new brands and breeds, showcasing some of the best pork each region has to offer.

Because of L.A.’s enthusiastic response and rapid sellout, Lowe felt he needed to up the ante.

Sunday's event will feature two butcher demos instead of one, an extra bar and an additional winery. There will be an additional 60 pounds of bacon from La Quercia, an extra kilo of caviar for the VIP room, and Chris Pollan from the Cheese Store of Silver Lake will be serving up his wares. In addition, this will be the first time a musical component has been added -- DJ Lord from Public Enemy and Egon from Stones Throw Records will spin as guests swirl into a swine-induced stupor.

Adding a sacrificial element, butchering demos will take place in front of the main altar. There will also be a freestyle butchering competition and the Bacon Hall of Fame, where exceptional producers of hormone- and antibiotic-free cured and smoked meat will be showcased. In the VIP area, Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura of Lindy & Grundy will break down a Kume Kume pig, a small spotted Maori breed native to New Zealand.

Tender Belly Farms will be providing Hereford, Spotted Poland and Hampshire pork to be used by Ben Ford (Ben Ford's Filling Station), Tim Godell (Public Kitchen and Bar) and Chad Colby (Osteria Mozza), respectively. Octavio Becerra of Palate Food & Wine will be work with Berkshire from ReRide Ranch, and Joshua Whigham of the Bazaar will use the Red Wattle breed from Walnut Keep Farm & Vineyard.

Most chefs are tight-lipped about what they have in store for the competition, and are wary of any definitive speculation.

“It may come down to traditionalist versus modernist. If that’s the case, it could be Josh Whigham,” says Ford. “I will say this, though: Chad Colby is the only guy whose head cheese I’d eat.”

To get the full rundown on Cochon 555, plus a porcine photo gallery, read on. >>>

-- Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo courtesy of Cochon 555

Exclusive, with photos: A sneak peek at Lindy & Grundy, opening Tuesday

IMG_3296 Back in January, we published our profile of Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura, the cleaver-wielding butcherettes who have been setting up their sustainable meat store on Fairfax Avenue.  Since then the women have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on their butcher shop, leaving the city in suspense for the opening. Some were so antsy, in fact, that they jumped the gun in announcing the opening.

The duo's thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers are likely privvy to the meticulous inspections and multiple bumps in the road that have pushed their opening more than a month behind schedule. But this afternoon we finally received word that Lindy & Grundy Local, Pastured, and Organic Meats is finally ready to peddle its first pork jowls.

Naturally, we wanted to give you an exclusive sneak peak of the shop in its final stages. A virtual tour with smellevision would be helpful, because upon walking through the front doors we were slammed with the scent of smoking cedarwood and roasting meat. Decked out in chain-mail aprons, Nakamura was meticulously breaking down pork parts for house-made sausages and Posada and their two  employees were busy loading the smoker, testing recipes and quartering chickens.

The store, which opens Tuesday, will offer sustainably raised beef, lamb, pork, sausage, poultry, cheese and aged meat. Sausages are being stuffed for opening day; varieties include kimchi pork, sweet and hot Italian and classic lamb. Nakamura's signature "gateway" sausage (part tofu, part chicken) will be available once they settle in. They will sell a house blend of ground beef in freezer cases, along with stocks and other prepared items. The store will also have a rub and spice station where customers can work with the butchers to create specific spice mixtures for the meats they're purchasing.

The doors will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and they plan to have an official opening party within a few weeks. The celebration will be a welcome one, after the series of delays.

"Getting this place open has been our lives." Posada says. "We couldn't have done this without each other."

For photos of their nearly completed sustainable butcher shop, keep reading.

--Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

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Lindy & Grundy opening update

Lindy and grundy

You may have heard earlier Thursday that Lindy & Grundy, the sustainable butcher shop that is generating Mozza-size anticipation, is opening Friday. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada have a few more hoops to jump through before they can start slinging beef cheeks.

"We're still excited and kinda tired, but it does give us a couple of extra days to pull ourselves together," Nakamura said. "A while back Amelia and I made a commitment to ourselves to not get too upset over the things we have no control over. It's about a concrete ramp that needs to be extended. ... I have a very good feeling that it'll be Tuesday, but I don't want to jump the gun."

-- Krista Simmons

twitter.com/kristasimmons

Photo: Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada in their West Hollywood home. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Lindy & Grundy: Two tough babes with a soft spot for sustainably raised meat


LA-162944_FO_1222_lindy-grundy_2_GEM
Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada barely clear the 5-foot mark, but they have quickly become social media giants. During their road trip from New York to California in August, the duo already were making a push to connect with their new demographic. The cleaver-wielding butchers have tapped into the L.A. culinary scene, networking with fellow female butchers and foodies along the way.

Don't be fooled by their size; the young women nicknamed Lindy & Grundy have a thing for breaking down big animals. In fact, when we set up our photo shoot, I'd talked with Nakamura about shooting the couple preparing a humble meal in their kitchen. When our photographer Genaro Molina arrived on the scene, they busted out half of a grass-fed cow, whipped out their hand saws and got to work.

Nakamura and Posada's sustainability-focused butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy, is set to open at the beginning of February, and the story of the road to the L.A. opening is told here. We've also compiled a list of other locations that carry sustainably raised meats. Please feel free to tip us off to any of your favorite purveyors in the comments.

--Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo: Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura in their home. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times

'Just Desserts': Dessert Wars

NUP_138928_1480 Thursday night, the first Dessert Wars ensued, Team Diva disbanded and Nancy Silverton paid a visit to the "Top Chef" set.

The remaining six pastry chefs were divided into two teams for the bakery challenge, in which each team had to make nine desserts: three per contestant, including one bread item and two prepped a la minute.

After losing the pastry prep quickfire, Morgan, Danielle and Eric were hungry for a win. (Hey, I'd be salivating over a $30,000 prize too.) They stocked the beautiful display case with Eric's vanilla malted cake with chocolate butter cream and a banana loaf with brown-butter-and-tangerine icing; a pistachio shortcake and coffee cream pie with hazelnut brittle from Danielle; and chocolate cake with mousse and creme brulee center and chocolate glaze, as well as a lemon fried pie with salted caramel ice cream from Morgan.

Though the Divas proclaimed that they were superior in style, their Adult Playground concept presented their customers with a sad, sparse display case. And Heather, who insisted on rolling the dough by hand instead of using a sheeter, whipped up some of the thickest crust the judges had ever seen. To make matters worse, she was in charge or rolling dough for Yigit, whose chocolate tart with salted peanuts and caramel was ruined by the dense dough.

Keeping true to the format of a real bakery, the other team's Whisk Me Away bakery had stocked jars with staples such as chocolate chip cookies. But when it came to the bread, guest judge Silverton was more impressed with Zac's white-truffle-and-kalamata-olive brioche than Morgan's soft, salted pretzel. That was about the only thing that Team Diva had going for them, though.

Well, that and the fact that they had the adorable Yigit working the front of the house. The judges didn't quite take to Danielle's lackadaisical hosting, but it wasn't enough to whisk her team away to the chopping block.

In the end, Heather got the boot, breaking up the giggly Diva crew. With Team Diva disbanded, will Zac and Yigit still have their flare? As long as there's disco dust, it's safe to say so.

-- Krista Simmons
Twitter.com/@kristasimmons

Photo: Morgan's chocolate cake with creme brule center Credit: NBC UMV

 

'Just Desserts': Black and white and read all over

Judges with L_sm Wednesday night's episode got a little close to home, as the "Just Desserts" cast descended on the L.A. Times building to cater our 128th birthday party.

The chefs were all baffled by the challenge, which required them create pastries devoid of color, utilizing only black and white. The task was like taking away the primary colors from a pack of painters, and no one seemed pleased. Given they don't make black disco dust, Zach was in quite a jam.

Michael Liaskonis of Le Bernardin came over from the Big Apple to judge the episode, which had me wondering, "Where's the local flavor?" And more importantly, "Why wasn't I invited?" If this were high school I'd have been face-deep in a pillow.

While I maintained my cool, Heather certainly did not. When her white chocolate Rice Krispie treats went missing a la pea puree, she immediately assumed it was her nemesis Morgan who absconded with them, barking to the rest of Team Diva (Zach, Heather and Yegit) about her disgust of her competitor. It's hard to believe someone so bitter has dedicated their life to sweets.

Erik, who was moping around the supermarket while shopping for ingredients, felt defeated too early. Gail and the gang thought that his Mississippi mud cake with earl grey whipped cream and hot fudge sauce was beautifully plated, and Johnny Iuzzini stated it was his best dessert yet.

Morgan The monochromatic match really pushed the contestants. They extracted the essential flavors from items like tea and fruits and utilized various textures to create visual appeal. Morgan's sticky toffee pudding and chocolate date cake with banana anise cream and coffee Kahlua jelly, pictured at right, was a perfect example. His columnar design was inspired by the design of our paper, and visually it worked.

But it was Yigit's chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, berry compote and almond milk ice cream that made headlines. He took home his first quick-fire win, beating out the rest of the boys that were in the top rung.

The three remaining ladies' desserts were deemed the worst by the judges, and even though Danielle's ill-planned 128 petit four plate lacked insight and flavor, Erika and her gluey ice cream got sent home.

Thank goodness it wasn't our local girl. We love L.A.!

--Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo: From right, Gail Simmons, Michael Liaskonis and Dannielle Kyrillos. Courtesy of NBC UMV.

'Just Desserts' recap: Food and fashion collide

Morgan Last night the renowned Sherry Yard of Spago paid a visit to  "Just Desserts," judging challenges based on two of my favorite things: souffles and shoes.

For the quickfire, each chef presented their own version of the delicate egg-based French dish, and although Yigit's winning souffle seemed lovely, nothing looked as luscious as Ludo's dark chocolate rendition. For the elimination, the remaining pasty chefs were to design edible fashion inspired by a pair of shoes.

The chefs were given a bonkers 8-hour time limit to design, and they also had to create petit-fours accessories to complement their outfits. Danielle and Heather C. seemed confused by the challenge and used vegetables rather than pastry skills to craft their dresses. They veered so far from the show's dessert theme that they might as well have presented Gaga's meat dress to the judges.

Regardless of Zach's experience designing chocolate clothing for the Salon au Chocolat, Morgan came out on top. He put together every woman's must-have, a sultry LBD (little black dress) that paired perfectly with the blood-red pumps, a spiced raspberry ruby ring and red-hot cinnamon macaron earring.

More photos after the jump....

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Nadia Giosia dishes on her 'Bitchin' Kitchen' and building your own brand

Nadia_G300 Nadia Giosia, a.k.a Nadia G., is a Renaissance woman. The young Italian bombshell has built an empire for herself -- from designing her own cookbook to successfully launching the first online lifestyle entertainment brand to be brought onto prime time TV. Cooking Channel -- the Food Network's younger, edgier rebellious sister -- recently picked up Giosia’s Web-based show “Bitchin' Kitchen,” which aired for the first time Oct. 6.

Giosia started her career in branding and design, and eventually branched out into her own unique hybrid of cooking and comedy. She attributes much of her success to social media, knowing how to market herself and being a "photo/design ninja".

You can read more about how she made it here.

--Krista Simmons
Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo courtesy of "Bitchin' Kitchen"

'Just Desserts' recap: Ice cream, you scream. Contestants scream, 'Get me out of here!'

Koqreznc What happened to the cast of 'Just Desserts' last night?  At this rate, Bravo is going to have to bring in the cast of the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" to finish out the season, because everyone is leaving.

First came Seth, whose anxiety attack left him unfit to compete. Then came Malika, who offered to bow out at the judges table regardless of the fact that Gail Simmons said this was her best dessert yet.

Seth did throw up a few red flags in previous episodes: his manic reactions to stressors; his frantic running around the kitchen; and his instability in the stressful environment. Time and again, he caved like an improperly baked souffle, buckling under pressure and taking the fun out of the competition for the other contestants. When he left, you could see from the disguised smiles that everyone felt a cloud had been lifted. It was a bit sad because obviously the guy was struggling with some issues.

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'Just Desserts' recap: Cake wrecks, breakdowns and bake sales

NUP_138924_0694 Sylvia Weinstock, the queen of all things cake, rocked up to guest-judge Wednesday night's episode of "Top Chef: Just Desserts," delivering the message that the contestants would have to compose creative wedding cakes in an hour and a half.

The majority of the cakes were nothing I'd want at my imaginary ceremony (take note, Curtis Stone), looking more like they belonged on Cake Wrecks than on "Top Chef."

To be fair, the time constraints were borderline torture, and the chefs were showing it. Curse words went flying as defiant KitchenAids refused to mix and frosting neglected to set. Malika, who's struggled to complete other challenges, buckled under the pressure and sobbed Seth-style as her cake literally fell apart in front of Weinstock and Gail Simmons. Just as Elizabeth Falkner did in the previous episode, Weinstock stepped in to play mentor, encouraging Malika to learn from the experience rather than quit.

Continue reading »
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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.