Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rocco DiSpirito hosted Sherry Lansing's California Spirit 30 Healthy & Delish Foodie Feast for American Cancer Society.

By Laura Medina

 Rocco DiSpirito & Chef Thomas Keller

Ask anyone, especially women about men, to some extent men about women...the way to the heart is through the stomach.

Sherry Lansing's thirty-years old cancer benefit, California Spirit 30, thirty years running, is the Hollywood Entertainment Industry showing their love to those who had suffered and died from cancer and themselves who had experienced and survived cancer, in all it's painful forms, to transform their lives, such as Rocco DiSpirito.
 Allison Janney.

There were clothing sales, silent bids on some cool souvenirs (Sony Studios hosted the site), and good ole fashion rapid-fire auction.

Allison Janney won a Movie Night with Sherry Lansing and her director husband for $9,000.

As a cancer survivor and still a chef and currently, Healthy Food Coach on ABC’s hit series Extreme Weight Loss and is the founder of an innovative food delivery service (, told an heart-felt story of how a regular physical check-up of a life & death situation turned his life around.

He drastically changed with the ingredients he cooks with and how he cooks, "Cook Your Butt Off,"
Cook Your Butt Off!
Cook Your Butt Off!

Still a chef, Rocco knows deprivation fails and using fake ingredients only make health problems worse.

So, he and fellow chefs join in the fight against cancer with a real-food foodie fair benefit that highlights healthy eating with seafood low in calories or flavorful meats that are real and in portion-control with plenty of grains and vegetables.

Mind you, Los Angeles chefs are no fools living in Lala Land.

They're very much conscientious that California is in an industry-busting drought; and that they're at a very big cancer benefit that aims to counteract bad food and bad health habits.

A tall order but these chefs are super enough to be resourceful in cooking healthy meals during a drought....

The elusive chef, Thomas Keller was a cheerleader, welcoming everyone for raw oyster and shrimp buffet.  This seafood-scrafing scribe filled up on low-calorie Island Creek MA Oysters, Penn Cove Mussels, Coromandel NZ Oysters, Sweet Shrimp, White Albacore Tuna, all freely catered by Thomas Keller's upscale French-Californian-American Bouchon.

The glorious seafood continues with the classic Lobster two different versions from two different restaurants, Knuckle + Claw and Catch & Release.  They garnered the longest line, obviously simple.

Catch & Release, Chef Jason DeNicola on cooking up healthy, yummy dishes during a drought...

On feeding at a cancer benefit with a lot of hungry industry folks...

"This fall? I mean our lobster rolls are our signature item. We make the parker house rolls everyday in house on thirty minute intervals so the bread is that fresh. It’s literally made every thirty minutes. I have the Maine Lobster flown in every single day uh it lands every morning at 11:00 and comes straight to the restaurant. Lobsters are fabricated by 3:00 so you’re getting the freshest lobster you can possibly imagine so, imagine a lobster killed at 3:00 in the afternoon and a roll made at 5:00 in the afternoon. So I mean it’s as fresh as fresh, it’s as close to Maine as you’re going to get."

"We’re actually, funny enough in the middle of summer, with it being in California, we actually sell brussel sprouts. Brussel Sprouts are not an overly watered nutrient needed dish so that’s one that we could probably not live with out. And also continue to use since it’s not an overly water absorbent dish or vegetable."

"Our healthiest dish? At lunch we have a kale salad with a coriander yogurt dressing served with Olive Oil poached salmon."
 Knuckle & Claw, Chef Chloe Dahl & Chef Nikki Booth: 

On cooking during a drought... 

"Lemons. Definitely lemons, citrus, fruits all the way. Nothing like that lemony taste, it makes everything better. Especially with seafood, lemon on seafood is a match made in heaven." 

As women chef duo, they know the important of being really healthy, well-fed yet low-calorie...

"You know any roll, you can get a collard green wrap to go with it which takes that bread component away. And lobster is really low in calories, it’s high in cholesterol but the chemical that turns the lobster red is actually good for your heart so it balances each other out. So a lobster roll from Knuckle and Claw in a collard green wrap is under 150 calories. And it’s a full meal for you. And you can even get a bag of chips from us to go along with that collard green wrap because that’s gluten free; all of our chips are gluten free. Oh! And we have a coleslaw, we have a Dijon slaw that’s also low in calories but I think the lobster collard green wraps is more interesting than coleslaw."
What's up for Fall?

"Oh man I think our favorite dish is going to be that Lobster Pot Pie. We used to live in New York and growing up on the vineyard it’s just the only thing to have in the winter when it’s cold out. It’s delicious, it’s homey, it’s creamy, it reminds you of fall and makes you happy that the seasons are coming. And you can put your favorite vegetables in there, you can make it spicy or you can make it sweet. You can do so much because lobster is so versatile."

Wholesome and generously-portioned Lemonade served up a hefty helping of grains and vegetables:
Moroccan couscous, Washington cherries, French feta pistachio.White nectarine, persian cucumber, english pea, watercress, mint. sesame ginger braised duck rainbow chard, cashew, pineapple, coriander. pickled nopales, jicama, peppers, blue corn tortilla, corn, lime.

Asking what's up for Fall? 

 Lemonade Restaurant Group, Chef Alan Jackson: 

" Why Fall? Fall Dish, uhmmm. Persimmons, I love persimmons with arugula and blue cheese and sherry. So when fall comes around the persimmons are beautiful."

Dealing with drought...
"Which is the one I couldn’t live without? That’s a problem we probably serve 65 vegetables and herbs throughout our whole restaurant but the one that I couldn’t do without, that I like the least would be parsnips."

His cleanest dish is...
"The watermelon radish with seared tuna and ponzu."

The healthy low-calorie and protein-rich swimming in vegetable antioxidants trend continues with Tavern's Thai Inspired Carrot Broth with Coconut Black Rice, Sambal and Diver Scallop.

Tavern, Chef de Cuisine Amy Deadrick: 

"The Short Ribs we do" for Fall...

Cooking during a drought...

"Oh my god! Citrus for sure. It’s not really a vegetable but I can’t live with out citrus."

 "We do a sprouted grain, we’re sprouting farro and we’re mixing it with a yellow confit tomato and a bunch of vegetables on top with a little salsa verde" as Tavern's healthiest dish.

What's really innovative is pairing sweet fruit with savory meat such as Barrel & Ashes' Smoked Beef Brisket and Watermelon Salad.

Barrel & Ashes, Chef de Cuisine Michael Kahikina...

Is really resourceful while dealing both Summer and drought while concocting fresh, healthy dishes...

"I would say, maybe, what’s the one thing we can’t live with out? Watermelon?
Hard to find! All of our salads are beat salads. We have a smoked beat salad with strawberries and arugula, pistachio. It’s pretty healthy."

What's up for Fall?  

"I mean obviously our smoked meats are the number one thing we do. Our Frito pie is really amazing. It’s kind of like warm and, everything that we do at Barrel and Ashes is really kind of comfort foodie and you know down to earth"


Yes, there were old-fashion beef and pork but they were the best quality (less reliant on additional fat) and in portion-control. Better to savor...Spacca's Porcini Rubbed Short Ribs with Salsa Verde and Scallions.Simple but low-fat BBQ marinade and grilling.

 chi SPACCA, Chef Ryan DeNicola: 

 On dealing with drought...

"Tomatoes. Tomatoes is something especially since we’re an Italian Restaurant so tomatoes is something we use in every part of our restaurant whether it’s the pizzeria mozta or whether it’s the tomato salad, the speaky spacca, or whether it’s the caprese salad at Osteria. And something that really worries us with the drought, you know, produce is what makes California what it is. We wouldn’t have all these great restaurants here if it weren’t for the great produce we have here and if the drought continues it would be something that we would really lose. You know we would lose a lot of that produce. And especially you can tell a major difference when you buy products from outside California when their inside. Not just the actual quality of produce themselves but you can tell it’s older, you have to ship it in, it’s inefficient. It’s sad to me that’s what worries me the most and tomatoes use a lot of water. So, if it was something that didn’t use quite as much water, tomatoes need water and that worries me."

Their healthiest dish...

"The healthiest dish would be our ranzino. It’s al plancha, which is on a flat top, we do olive oil, salt and pepper and we put it on the plancha and we finish it with herb salad of tarragon, chervil, parsley, dill, olive oil and grilled lemon. It’s our healthiest dishes by far but it’s one of my favorite dishes."

What's up for Fall?

"Alright so we do, so we have two things. We have a polenta with an egg. So we do chesaraise egg. It’s a poached egg with polenta and hazelnut béchamel. It’s basically; the egg gets cooked in the bottom of the bowl with polenta on top of it with and hazelnut béchamel on top. It’s one of my favorite things. The second thing is depending on how late into fall is it, a creamed corn that we do is delicious. It’s basically corn that has been shucked on micro plane. Actually it’s a special instrument though that shucks it while actually cutting it so it creams it while getting all the liquid out of it while actually shucking the corn and we take olive oil, a little bit of butter and salt and pepper and that’s it. The ingredients don’t actually show how delicious the dish is. You know, it’s a much better dish when you eat it then when you hear it. But only in California is corn a fall dish. In must places it’s a summer dish but California we have it for a long time."

Better than economical bacon, Redbird's Grilled Pork Chop with Apricot Mostardo & Hazelnuts.

On Neal Fraser on dealing with drought...

"I don’t really know; that’s a good question. I think the drought affects everything. It’s hard to say one specific ingredient that I love and I think they’re all in the same kind of boat."

 His healthiest dish...

"The healthiest dish that we serve? Would have to be the Thai snapper crudo."

 What's up for Fall?

"Grilled something something Porkchop with apricots and hazelnuts." This is the dish he grilled for California Spirit 30 cancer benefit.

Everybody were so relieved that ICDC sent regular but healthy and low in sugar donuts.  The batter itself is sugar and spices and herbs free, making it a multi-purpose batter that can be used in savory pate de choux.  The sugar and sweetness only came from the Vanilla Cream Cheese/Salt and Pepper Carame/Mayan Chocolate glazes.

Even, the beer was healthy.

One of the Dr. Jekyll's founding partner beer buddies is a personal trainer/bodybuilder with typical men taste for forthy beer, wondering why can't brewers put healthy antioxidants in beer.

By brewing in: acai berry, raspberry ketone, grapefruit, green tea, green coffee bean, and maqui berry, Dr. Jekyll's American Kolsch is light and fruit enough to add berry puree as a refreshing Summer Shandy cocktail.

Remember, it's July.  It's Summer and it's Food and Booze Season when people need fruity drinks to hydrate and we're adults.

Julian Cox Drink concocted: Greenbar slowhand white whiskey, Greenbar organic tru vanilla vodka, Cherry heering & cherry bitters, and Lemon. 

As a mixologist/bartender, he always thinking about the drought, how to whet parched patrons...

"Lemons or limes. Yeah citrus is definitely the most important thing for what we do." 

 Yes, you can drink healthy as an adult, not like a kid...

"I think most of the light spirits are a really, really safe bet. Vodka, gin, rum, and tequila mixed with a neutral mixer is the healthiest and the lightest. I know that’s not very interesting but that’s probably the healthiest. But in that spirit, if you add something like fresh herbs or peppers, either spicy or not spicy peppers, or even like cucumbers, something like that, that’s really nice and light keep it really fresh. Also there are great sweeteners out there like Stivia and agave nectar that are really low on the bicimix index, natural and healthy."

What he's shaking for Fall?

"In the fall I like to do cocktails like sours. Like sour based cocktails. The old school style, the sour is usually made by citrus, particularly lemon juice, simple syrup, and then I love to incorporate egg white because that’s the natural, that’s the way it used to be made. In the fall you have all these great flavors, you have clove, you have cinnamon and all spice, all these kind of baking spice flavors so I always like to incorporate those into drinks with apples or things of that nature that kind of give you that fall feeling."


Continuing the antioxidant to the very finish, guests sipped then took home a bottle of Malibu Wine so they, too, can get their antioxidants.

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