FOODCHAIN: Making the Best of It
Thursday, September 22, 2005
GOOD FOOD AND DEEDS… I’m sorry, I just can’t shake the depth of the Hurricane Katrina mess. I know that compared to the Tsunami in Asia and India it is relatively miniscule. I know that horrors in certain African nations and elsewhere have claimed hundreds of times the lives. But it’s not about, “Well, what the hell, it’s not as big a tragedy as (fill in the blank), therefore I won’t spend too much time on it.”
It hit us in so many ways, not the least of which is the displacement of tens of thousands of individuals who must begin life anew somewhere else or try to return and pick up in the “new” New Orleans and surrounding regions.
Oct. 7 is the date, 7:30pm the time, the Aquarium the place. COMMUNITY FEEDS OUR NATION is the name of the event that so many people have stepped up to bat for. It’s a New Orleans-style party of epic proportions with more than 60 chefs and/or restaurants contributing. There will be more food, wine, beer and booze than any group could possibly consume, but, if we’re true to the spirit of the Big Easy, we’ll give it our best shots (pun definitely intended).
Individuals and concerned businesses are donating all types of auction items. Three bands so far: MUMBO GUMBO, the wildly popular Sacramento-based Cajun-style party band, the always hoppin’ CACHAGUA PLAYBOYS, and chef/über-entertainer DENNIS MURPHY, plus whatever other musicians happen by and decide to throw in with these lugs. Every single person, facility, tool, etc. involved in this event is 100-percent donated.
It has been truly inspirational to be in the planning meetings with all the amazing folks involved in this, led by the irrepressible TODD FISHER of Hullaballoo and Chicken Scratch Flats in Salinas—which reminds me—we’re working on getting luxury buses to transport the Salinas faithful, starting the party on the bus so we can loosen ‘em up properly and have them deposit a bunch of money at the event.
One hundred percent of every penny collected goes directly to the hurricane relief effort, spearheaded by the AMERICAN RED CROSS, Monterey and San Benito County chapters. The Web site up and running for the event is www.byte-technology.com/aid.
HUNTER FINNELL and MYLES WILLIAMs (New Orleans boy) will be the emcees, along with healthy doses of Todd Fisher. All the media is on board as sponsors: KION/KCBA, Comcast Spotlight, the Weekly, Monterey County Herald, Salinas Californian, KRML, KAZU, KCDU “The Beach,” KHIP “The Hippo,” KMBY, “Santa Cruz X,” KPIG, KBOQ, KWAV, Magic 63, KTOM-Country, KOCN-R&B/Old School, KPRC-Spanish, KABL-”The Paisano.” That’s impressive.
You can call these three Red Cross numbers to buy tickets or donate money: Monterey, 375-5730; Salinas, 424-4824; Carmel, 624-6921. Please keep an eye and ear open for the latest updates.
Contact me if you need to, I’ll get you to the right person. I’m coordinating the wineries so any of you winos out there who I may not have contacted, get ahold of me, email@example.com or 632-2167. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the Aquarium that night—guaranteed it will be memorable.
A NEW GUY IN TOWN… I apologize to all my good friends on the local scene who have sent me information about their restaurants or other things happening. I know I’ve been kind of ignoring y’all, but this Katrina thing has got hold of me good. I haven’t written about stuff like the Sardine Factory’s new chef—BERT CUTINO was all excited about him at the Community Feeds Our Nation planning meeting the other day. By the way, if you see Chef Cutino, extend a bit of well wishing to the man who has done so much for our community, especially in hospitality. He, like other longtime restaurateurs, has had problems with his arteries and had to have a bunch of stents put in. He’s got to watch the diet and stress and things, a difficult task for so ebullient a personality who is caught up in the ongoing world of events, dinners and receptions.
Oh yeah, I was writing about the new chef. His name is DOUGLAS FISK. He’s been in the restaurant business since he was 14 (he’s now 17—just kidding). He’s a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation, has traveled extensively gaining experience, including to Jamaica, where he competed for the national culinary team. He’s cooked for a couple of presidents, several celebrities and, hey, for Bert Cutino and TED BALESTRERI—can’t get any more qualified an audience than those two. We say welcome Douglas Fisk, hope you like our quiet little community. (Although, as busy as the Sardine Factory is, his life will be anything but quiet—hey, BIG MIKE, be nice to the new guy.)
MORE NEWNESS… So I’m having lunch the other day at Rio Grill. Got to meet their chef, JAE MOON, a delightful guy, who’s been there about a year and a half and is really keeping Rio’s food on the front burner (how’s that for a metaphor—is that a metaphor?). My man is making his own fresh mozzarella—a true labor of love and a pain in the hands. He served up a Caprese with heirloom tomatoes that was rocking. I had bouillabaisse that was outstanding. I love the use of forceful flavored ingredients in their stuff at Rio.
I was with STACY HENDRICKS, who’s doing some PR consulting for TONY TOLLNER and his Downtown Dining company that owns Rio, Montrio, Tarpy’s and the not yet opened but gonna make a big splash in late spring WILLY’S SMOKEHOUSE & AMERICAN GRILL. That will be in Cannery Row in the space long vacated by O’Kane’s. It’s being completely torn apart and renovated and promises to be an exciting venture. Having been a part of 18 openings of either restaurants or nightclubs, I get excited just hearing about it. I’ve been by the site quite a few times to try to peer inside and feel the craziness, but it’s not close enough yet. At virtually every opening, with like one or two weeks to go, it always looks like the place will never get open—that’s when it gets crazy crazy. I love that.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE… I happened to be in BOUCHEE the other day. Picked up an interesting brochure that lists the various special dinners they’re doing there and at L’AUBERGE CARMEL. Check out this one: On Friday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, the fourth, Bouchee and L’Auberge Carmel are doing a mind-wrecking La Tache dinner (with Champagne Salon reception to freshen things). I can’t even comprehend this. We’re looking at 20 vintages of La Tache, ’34, ‘42, ‘47, ‘56, ‘57, ‘62, ‘64, ‘66, ‘71, ‘78, ‘80, ‘85, ‘89, ‘90, ‘91, ‘93, ‘96, ‘97, ‘99 and ‘02. Are you kidding me? Those bottles don’t even exist in the same place anywhere, except maybe at DRC and some crazy French restaurant with a 100,000 bottle cellar that they’ve been stocking since the 1800s.
If there is anyone out there who needs an escort, someone who can guarantee a jolly good time, knowledgeable companionship and genuine appreciation, please contact me right away, I’ll be glad to join you.
FOR THE CHILDREN… Don’t forget Paraiso Vineyards First Annual Poker Charity Tournament to benefit CASA of Monterey County. It’s tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 23, beginning at 6pm. It will be a wonderful, fun time, as is everything the Smith Family organizes at Paraiso (it really is paradise) Vineyards. Call 678-0300 right away or just show up and buy a ticket there, they can’t turn you away—it’s for charity.
Wow, my apologies to WILL REYNOLDS of Hullaballoo and Chicken Scratch Flats. I’ve been spelling his name Wil for years, thinking I was all cool, the only guy spelling his name right—duh, uh, sorry Will. See you at the Aquarium.