Recipe For Change brought together some of L.A.’s most revered chefs including Suzanne Tracht, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Nancy Silverton, Vanda Asapahu, Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone to raise funds and awareness for #MakeNoiseToday on Thursday at Japan House Los Angeles.
The Creative Class Collective initiative focuses on combating racism and bigotry by elevating the voices of Asian Americans and marginalized youth groups by providing platforms for storytelling on diversity, heritage, accomplishments, challenges, grit, inspiration and culture.
Each of the participating chefs was asked to prepare a dish for the fundraiser using Japanese culture or a Japanese product to inspire their creation as part of the evening’s mind-blowing 13-course omakase menu, accompanied by a selection of four sakes and a Suntory Whisky.
The two hot tamales Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger kicked off the evening with oysters on the half shell with tomatillo soy granite and Japanese scallops with a yuzu citrus vinaigrette, a refreshing welcome to the stifling heat of the day.
“Whenever Suzanne Tracht calls me to do something, I never can say no,” Milliken told L.A. Weekly in between sharing recipes with Tracht in the kitchen. “I get to hang out with all my favorite chefs like Vonda and her sister. It’s especially important to make noise right now. We had a wake-up call during Covid, especially concerning racism and marginalization and it’s time for a real reckoning. It’s not a cat we can put back in the bag.”
Tracht added her carnivorous wizardry to the menu with a juicy Kobe beef topped with just the right amount of uni in a tamarind teriyaki. Chefs Doumani and Sone presented a stunning sculpture of chilled somen noodles in dashi broth with myoga and okra topped with caviar. The ultimate in east meets west, Yangban Society’s Katianna Hong wowed the crowd with a pot pie with brown butter, crowned with tender roasted baby abalone.
“The violence against Asians in America has sparked a movement,” Ayara Thai’s Vanda Asapahu said while putting the finishing touches on her crispy skin amadai tilefish in gaeng som with hom mali rice. “People target the most vulnerable like the elderly, who don’t want to make waves by speaking up. We’ve been very silent about it in the past. Living in the biggest Thai community outside of Thailand, our house was always filled with the pungent aroma of Asian food. But when I’d bring au pau chop to school next to the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it wasn’t always welcome. They asked me if I was eating turds. I was an outlier – but now it’s cool to be different.”
Following Silverton’s ingenious deconstructed Caesar with hard-boiled egg, leek and anchovy crostini, two haute dessert options rounded off the evening including Cathy Asapahu’s sophisticated golden yuzu coconut tart with caramelized white chocolate. Celebrated L.A. chocolatier and confectioner Valerie Gordon, who is of Chinese descent, created a densely rich mochi cake with white shoyu, caramel and toasted rice alongside black sesame toffee with soy salt.
The evening was presented by restaurateur Andy Nakano of the storied and since shuttered Imperial Gardens on Sunset Blvd. together with Julia Huang, founder and CEO of Intertrend Communications and founder of the Creative Class Collective.
“The lineup of mostly female chefs was a conscious decision because of the regressive gender dynamics and norms they have all had to deal with at some point in their careers,” Huang said in a statement. “These dynamic chefs understand what it means to feel marginalized. We want to recognize their accomplishments and tell their stories alongside raising awareness for others.”
Check out the photo gallery for a taste of the omakase marathon and for more information or to donate, visit Make Noise Today.
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