By Laura Medina
As a daughter of a Classical French-train United States Navy chef, who has aunts and cousins as top-notch pasteries and entree chefs, this scribe knows that good taste and good style come in all different types of form and art.
Tasteful styles come from gourmet cuisine, historically, from the royal courts, where chefs and artisans transforms homely ingredients into a work of art...;and no...you do not have to starve for your art or for fashion. There are times when you have to grow up and learn how to sip champagne and nibble on quinoa.
It was fortuitous being pulled out in the last minute to be that day's last-minute guest judge for Bravo's Top Chef Tour stop at Hollywood and Highland.
Truth be told, they pulled out all the journalists that day to be judges. Great to be acknowledged for one's education, experience, and wisedom.
That day's competitors were Chef Richard Blais, the winner of Bravo's Top Chef: All-Stars and "Top Chef: Las Vegas" contestant, Chef Hector Santiago; and they are both Atlanta restauranteurs.
That day's competition of quinoa with pork tenderloin...it was interesting to see how Chef Richard from New York and Puerto Rican Chef Hector deal with a traditional Southern meat with a trendy but ancient grain.
As one of three judges, we picked Chef Hector for him barbequing pork tenderloin, making Middle Eastern quinoa into creamy grits then using pork lard into a barbecue base for crunchy, caramelize crab apples.
We journalists were startled at ourselves for calmly yet authoratively describing to the whole audience and the chefs why we pick Chef Hector because his complexity of flavors and texture: the smoky sweetness, the creaminess, and the crunch factor.
Chef Hector explained switching from Puerto Rican cuisine to Southern cuisine is easy. Same ingredients done up in a love for his adapted city and region. He loves Atlanta. His cuisine and this dish represents the "New South," where immigrants redo ingredients from their homeland in Southern ways and methods. Chef Hector, "I can go to Atlanta today and get Thai Southern, Korean Southern. Redoing traditional Latin pork into barbeque is easy."
We the judges agree that Chef Richard's pork tenderloin as filet mignon with quinoa salad was light and healthy as the man himself.
This one of Chef Richard's purpose, to go tour promoting gourmet cuisine as healthy and nutritious. He incorporates his cooking into his alter ego as a marathon runner and an health nut. Yes, pun intended.
You try speaking with a mic up one's nose with ease and calmness. Not easy, my friends.
This fashionable foodie burnt Chef Hector's tasting, driving two hours south to Assouline's Vintage Modern Cocktail party, just for dessert. How's that for exercise and patience?!
Lead Bartender Rob Floyd of The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, graciously drove down two hours south himself to demonstrate the "new" vintage cocktails.
He revamped the Margarita standby, made "Sex on the Beach" into the classier, "Between the Sheets," and the French 75, using liquid nitrogen and foam.
Proving the bartender-turned-mixologist is the evolution of chef, Patrick Castle of Refine Cocktail Mixers, wants to teach the world in concocting cocktails with fresh, seasonal fruits and the ease of his ready-made, low calorie, sugar-free, and all-natural cocktail mixers.
Teaming up with E!'s Ashlan Gore and haircare brand, Joico, Refine Cocktail Mixer Class and Summer Party is on the mission to make cocktails classy again. Artisanal, not trashy. Fresh fruit and natural flavors. No more syrup and fake taste. Refine's founder, Patrick Castle, wants to turn frat boy cocktails back into gentlemen.
He gave Bethenny Frankel's of "SkinnyGirl Cocktails" and "The Real Housewives of New York" fame credit for launching the health-conscious cocktail.
Now, Patrick wants to further the cause by making healthy cocktails available to both women and men, replacing the fake chemicals with real ingredients, and making his mixers flexible as "mocktails" for expecting moms and recovering alcholics or those who just want a taste without the hangover.
Alright, who's kidding who...not everyone can cook or draw or paint. The same can be said for this bunch of writers. We take our bartenders, wait a minute, mixologists for granted. It is harder than it looks. Patrick very patiently coach us in the art of "made-from-scratch" artisanal Morrison's Mojito (inspired by Jim Morrison), Venice Peach Bellini (in honor of that night's locale), Abbot's Margarita (also in honor of the neighborhood), and the very cherry Canal Side Cosmo (honoring Venice, California again).
This mixology class was a hoot, think of it as a sophisicated gourmand's idea of a crafting class...with all the klutzy kaos. Remember, we are writers, not culinary professionals. Some are. Most are not.
Ashlan squirted, squashed, and squished and "borrowed" berries like the rest of us. She even warned us of the shooting champagne corks.
But, this was all worth the effort. This fashionable foodie happily quaffed her Venice Peach Bellini and slurped her cherry Canal Side Cosmo, paired with beet and avocado salad, the grain-of-the year Quinoa Salad, and farro sald, all catered by the reowned Gjelina in Venice restaurant.
This wasn't the only way to celebrate Summer's bounties.
Joico's George twisted Ashlan Gore's tresses into a braided headband and tamed this fashionable foodie's rumple locks into curvy beach waves, all in an effort not have food in our hair. Cool, stylish, and neat. It was a good time to check Joico's K-Pak Line to protect the hair from the Summer elements.
Here's to Summer!