Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Regal Discovery Tour with Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson (plus Chef Samuelsson's Recipe for Shrimp and Red Grits)!

Chef Marcus Samuelsson
On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Buick Regal Discovery Tour at the SLS Hotel, sponsored by Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure magazines. Los Angeles was the final stop on the cross-country tour, which began in Chicago and hit cities including Orlando, Dallas, and Cincinnati. I guess they saved the best for last!

Our stop featured guest speakers, including Jorge A. Chicas, the executive chef of The Bazaar by Jose Andres (one of my favorite LA restaurants), mixology expert Michael Green, road food guru Michael Stern, and Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson.

The Bazaar's Liquid Olives
After test driving a 2011 Buick Regal (not a bad way to begin a cold Los Angeles morning -- the car even has seat warmers!), my group entered a conference room, where we were greeted by Chef Chicas, his sous chef, and a table full of molecular gastronomy delights.

Chef Chicas showed us how to make tomato and watermelon skewers, demonstrated the technique for The Bazaar's famous liquid olives (encapsulated olive juice that explodes in your mouth), and passed around liquid olives for us to taste. He also answered questions and spoke at length about The Bazaar's new upscale tasting room, Saam, which I can't wait to try in the new year.

Mixology Expert Michael Green
Next up, we were greeted enthusiastically by mixology expert Michael Green, who demonstrated how to make a Ginger Gin Sour Cocktail (we mixed the mocktail version, but were promised the real deal later in the day to sip for Marcus Samuelsson's presentation). Not only did Michael work the room like a pro, but he demonstrated an astounding depth of knowledge on everything from the perfect drinks to serve for holiday brunch (low alcohol wine like Riesling or Prosecco cocktails), to perfect wine pairings, to essential bar tools.

Then, we hit the road (metaphorically) with road food aficionado Michael Stern, who writes the wonderful website Road Food. He spoke about the best way to find great food (hint -- roll down your windows and use your nose), his favorite BBQ dives, and his recent meal at Phillippe the Original in downtown L.A. (read his review here). The next time I plan a road trip, I'll be using his website to find great places to stop for grub along the way.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson
The foodie extravaganza came to an end with Chef Marcus Sameulsson's cooking demonstration. We were handed Michael Green's Ginger Gin Sour Cocktail, suffused with gin this time, and ushered into a large conference. The second I entered the room, I was bowled over by the delicious smells emanating from the stage -- fragrant and potent, hinting at powerful spices and complex flavor profiles.

After taking a seat, we were served steaming hot bowls of Chef Samuelsson's version of Shrimp and Red Grits (recipe below). The savory dish was packed with flavors (spicy, sweet, umami) and textures (grits, shrimp, tomatoes). No wonder he won Top Chef Masters -- I can't wait to try making this recipe at home.

Chef Samuelsson answered a number of questions from the audience, offering advice on essential cupboard spices and cookware, waxing poetic about the superiority of California's farmers markets (sorry New Yorkers!), and complimenting the meal he has last night at Animal (interestingly, the last time I dined there, Chef Samuelsson ate at the table next to me with fellow masters Jonathan Waxman and Rick Moonen -- my review and pics here).

"New American Table" by Marcus Samuelsson
The event came to a close with us being given Chef Samuelsson's new cookbook, New American Table, as a parting gift. The thick tomb is chocked full of exciting recipes that I can't wait to try at home. I even hung around after the event to have my book signed by a very gracious and smiling Chef Samuelsson.

Thank you to Buick, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure and everybody who worked the event for making it such a fantastic foodie occasion.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Shrimp & Red Grits
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Print Recipe

1 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grits
1 bay leaf
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup corn
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups water
juice from 2 lemons
12 U-12 shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tabelspoon chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
8 cherry tomatoes, halved

Add the onion, garlic, half the dry spices and half the olive oil in a pan. Add the grits and bay leaf, saute for 30 seconds. Add the canned tomato. Add corn. Add half the white wine and water. Let simmer for 25 minutes.

In a bowl, add half the lemon juice, a tablespoon of the olive oil, remaining spices and shrimp. Let sit for 15 minutes.

In a pan, saute the shrimp and remaining garlic on high heat for 3 minutes. Toss in remaining lemon juice, remaining white wine, chopped parsley and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add cherry tomatoes and serve.

To serve, place 2 tablespoons of grits in a bowl. Top with 3 shrimp per bowl.

Photo Gallery:

The Bazaar's Executive Chef Jorge Chicas
Chef Chicas Making Watermelon Skewers
Liquid Olives in Olive Oil
"Old Way" Olives
Ingredients for Liquid Olives
Ginger Gin Sour "Mocktail"

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