Goin Gets Tasty
Cooking for Solutions builds upon a breakthrough with help from its Chef of the Year.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Cooking for Solutions Chef of the Year Suzanne Goin can make sustainable barramundi sing with a little help from fresh-crushed fingerling potatoes, fava beans, pea tendrils and savory crème frâiche – as she will demonstrate for a lucky crowd of Aquarium members this weekend at the VIP component of Friday’s gala headliner. She can keep three of L.A.’s hottest restaurants (Luques, Tavern and A.O.C.) stirring, while she and fellow star-chef husband (David Lentz) raise three kids. But she can’t get her young daughter to eat little pieces of sliced steak or pulled pork or shredded chicken.
“She will only eat meat or fish on the bone,” Goin says. “She won’t eat a chicken breast, but she loves chicken leg.
“Fortunately my fish purveyor is a really good friend, and gets me yellow-tail or salmon still [attached]. If it’s on the bone, she’s so happy.”
Apparently there are even more benefits to knowing your food sources beyond those Cooking for Solutions celebrates with its annual weekend event. Namely, you can verify it is caught or raised in a way that preserves its availability, the environment and your health. And it often tastes better.
That the former now seems feasible – and the latter seems obvious – is due in part to CFS’s success in its first eight years of honoring conscious chefs and inviting guests to taste the resulting work, and in part to the Seafood Watch program it benefits. It wasn’t that long ago when, as pioneering Northern California chef and CFS regular Jesse Ziff Cool points out, “no one would eat a beet” and the country’s seafood palate, even on the California coast, was dangerously one-dimensional, helping lead to the overfishing and farming that inspired Seafood Watch’s list of best choices.
“No one was willing to eat more than salmon,” the Cool Eatz and Flea Street Café founder says. “When we had a wedding, it had to be salmon. Now they are adventuring into other kinds.”
Ziff Cool will be among the stars hosting demos on Saturday. While many of the spendy CFS options have sold out, the Sustainability Fair remains open and free with paid admission (see schedule, this page) – including at least one demo of how to do a dynamite wild salmon dish (and how to make sure it’s from a sustainable source).
Goin acknowledges that being tight with great sources and chefs isn’t without obstacles. When a neighbor recently dropped off a bundle of food that included some conventionally farmed berries, she and her daughter – who is used to the organic goods from Harry’s Berries family farm – ran into one.
“She said, ‘It’s yucky,’” Goin recalls. “‘This isn’t a strawberry.’”
To that lucky youngster, it may not be a berry. To many, her reaction is progress – with chefs like Goin and events like Cooking for Solutions at its vanguard.
Cooking for Solutions Gala Stacked with celebrity chefs from Quebec to Florida and their local hosts like Kurt Grasing and Dory Ford; 75 restaurants, including Chez Panisse and the Slanted Door; organic and sustainable wines from 60 vintners of the West, against the unbeatable backdrop that is the Aquarium, the reason this party sells out annually is as clear as the constantly cleaned glass of the Kelp Tank. Demo packages with celeb chef honorees Suzanne Goin and Educator of the Year Rick Bayless and new lounge options further elevate the experience. | 7:30-10:30pm. Monterey Bay Aquarium. $150 public; $120 members $275 VIP Program with Goin and Bayless (6-7:30pm); $275 premium access lounge (members only).
Sustainability Fair Star Las Vegas-based chef Rick Moonen is money – on both flavor and the healthiest way to find it. He’s joined by fellow visionaries Sam Choy and Jesse Ziff Cool as the three host demos in various galleries and guests sample wild-caught Alaska salmon; learn about sustainable seafood, organic agriculture and sustainable winemaking at info booths; visit the Whole Foods Bay View Market and Kids Zone Experience. | 10am-6pm. Aquarium. Free with admission.
Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstrations Anthony Fusco (formerly of Harbour, New York), Gerald Hirigoyen (Piperade, San Francisco) and Kevin Gillespie (Woodfire Grill, Atlanta) do an extended triple play Seafood Watch demo and discuss their practices. A nice continental breakfast and take-home recipes by all the chefs accompany; a book signing follows. | 8-11:30am. Aquarium Auditorium. $75 public; $60 members.
Food and Wine Adventures Five forays take to the field, farm and kitchen with star sustainable chefs Suzanne Goin, Bruce Sherman, Tim McKee, Joanne Chang and Jim Dodge. Remaining slots send guests to sparkling resorts Intercontinental and The Lodge at Pebble Beach to chef with the best. (Tempting Big Sur, Corral de Tierra and Estancia trips are sold out.) | 9:30am-3:30pm. Various locations. $225 public; $175 members.Sustainable Seafood Challenge with Guy Fieri and Sam Choy Jason Wilson, François Blais, Brandon McGlamery and Brandon Hill compete in one of four timed categories, while onlookers enjoy wine and abundant hors d’oeuvres, and Fieri and Choy dish commentary. | 5:30-7:30pm. Monterey Plaza Hotel. $150, members only. (Sold out.)