Chef Series #4: Pre-Memorial Day Chef’s Pot Luck at Niu Gu
Jimmy Li – Niu Gu Signature Short Rib
Jimmy Li – Hong Kong Style Black Cod
Jimmy Li – Tea Jelly with Almond
Antonio Nunez – 36-hour cured Whole Hog Roast with Roasted Garlic Puree, Chipotle Adobo, Brown Sugar, Fresh Bay Leaves, Black Peppercorns and Jalapeno Bacon
Marty Red DeLeon Lopez- Pork Belly Adobo Roulades with Garlic Rice and Pork Fat
Jon VanHusen – Skillet Cornbread
Jon VanHusen – Mushroom Meatloaf
Chris Decker – Sausage & Calabrian Peppers, Italian bread Platter
John Courtney – Green Tripe Salad, Fresh Garbanzo Beans, Bird’s Beak Chili, Preserved Buddha Vinaigrette
Hemant Kishore – Malabar Chicken Biriyani with Basmati Rice, Fried Onion, Cashew, Raisins
Christopher Palmeri – Potato Gnocchi with Farmer’s Market Caponata
Sandra Palomo – Beef Kelaguen and Mango Cucumber Garnish
Dan Krohmer – Homemade Kim Chi Fried Rice
Josh Smith – Frisee Aux Lardons, Pate Campagne, Cornichons, Country Bread
Carlos Buscaglia – French Toast Bread Pudding, House Smoked Maple Syrup, Tres Leches Gelato from Gelatology
Hemant Kishore – Gulab Jamun
Jonathan Pluvinet – Tarte Tatin, Chocolate Almond Croissants
Jaret Blinn – Stone Fruit Pop Tarts and Sea Salt Spiced Caramel Pots de Creme
Tiffany Sheree Jones – Lemon Meringue Cake, Banana Caramel Cake
Matthew Piekarski and Carol Garcia -HeXx Single Origin Petit Four Selection of Brownies, Chocolate Tarts, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Cheesecake with Caramel Corn
Tammy Alana – Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Tartlets
David Cooper – Ketel One, Sage infused Simple Syrup, Cucumber, Fresh Lemon Juice, Touch of Mint with a float of Sparkling Water and Cucumber Peel garnish
David Cooper – Don Julio Reposado, Montinegro Amaro, Grapefruit infused Simple Syrup , Fresh Orange Juice, Fresh Grapefruit, Sprinkle of Sea Salt and Tajin with a float of Grapefruit Soda garnished by a Grapefruit Peel dipped in Sea Salt-Tajin Rub
Opting for an all-in communal dining experience common to the start of Summer, Chef Series #4 took on the concept of a Pot Luck lunch and with Joe Muscaglione offering to host at Chinatown’s Niu Gu on South Jones thirty-plus guests were treated to a spread from twenty of Las Vegas’ best Chefs, Bakers and Bartenders for a mere $20 each.
Truly a feast for the ages, each Chef donating a plate of their choice and invited to join diners at the table if they could find the time, it was through a combined effort that plates were collected to set the scene for buffet-style service and with spots like Bardot actually sending their a Sous Chef to compose their dish in the kitchen the sights and smells were enough to get appetites going, a truly multi-cultural event with everything served in portions that could have fed double the number of attendees.
Always impressed by not only the talent in the local kitchens, but by the general sense of community amongst Chefs and diners alike, it would truly be impossible to pick out one dish that “stood out” amongst such an outlandish collection of foods that most diners would never dare attempt for a simple family outing, though there is little doubt that everything presented received a thorough tasting from several well-versed locals, the Pork Belly Adobo Roulades from Marty Red DeLeon Lopez of 35 Steaks + Martinis particularly receiving compliments from Chef Li of Niu Gu while several could not get enough of Jon VanHusen’s Skillet Cornbread from Elements.
No doubt a skilled group, some opting to up the ante as others announced their dishes in the Chef Series group on Facebook, it would be hard to say any dish was more “eye-catching” than Antonio Nunuez Whole Hog offering and having tasted some of the Chef’s Roast Pork at Kitchen Table the meat here was every bit as impressive, if not more so, Chris Palmeri’s Gnocchi continuing to show why Naked City is as Essential to Las Vegas diners as any while Chris Decker’s Bread, Sausage and Peppers provided a good reminder of how much beauty can be found in the simplest old-world pairings.
With Other Mama’s Dan Krohmer sending Homemade Kim Chi Fried Rice that effortlessly rewarmed in one of Niu Gu’s Woks, JD from Bardot found himself wok-frying Lardons to top off Josh Smith’s Frisee Salad surrounded by golden Eggs, the Pate and Bread furthering the embarrassment of riches as did John Courtney’s vibrant Tripe Salad and Sandra Sandra Palomo’s Beef Kelaguen that will never be seen at Yardbird, but may just be worth begging her to make for you by special request.
Obviously not expecting everyone to play by the rules, Chefs of this caliber always going above the call of duty, both VanHusen and HKLife’s Hemant Kishore could not help but double down and send two plates, the former pastry chef from PublicUS showing he still hasn’t lost his fastball for sweetness with orbs of Gulab Jamun alongside fragrant Malabar Chicken Biriyani while Chef Jon’s Mushroom Meatloaf may not have been much to look at, but was downright delicious just the same.
Admitting that the turnout was greater than anticipated, every Chef asked gladly agreeing to chip in at no cost, host Jimmy Li sent out his signature Shortrib in several rounds along with shell-on spicy shrimp and freshly delivered Black Cod all plated elegantly while the dessert spread unfolded like a who’s who of local talents from Henderson to the Strip to Summerlin and Spring Valley.
Joined by Coop, a man oft considered the best Bartender in Las Vegas, who got up at 3am to begin preparation and stayed the whole event mixing cocktails every bit as creative as those served at Carnevino, dessert tasting began with two cakes from aspiring city councilwoman Tiffany Sheree Jones of Peridot Sweets and with both the frosted Banana Bread and Lemon Mascarpone equally elegant so too were the meringue tartlets from Alize and Andres’ Tammy Alana, the fruit theme continued by Jaret Blinn’s CRAFTKitchen Pop-Tarts and a Tarte Tatin as good as many found in Europe from Rosallie’s Jonathan Pluvinet.
An excessive display to say the least, several bags, boxes and clamshells packed with still more left to feed the Niu Gu team a very fine Staff Meal, special thanks go out to Carlos Buscaglia of Due Forni for getting up early to fire the ovens *and* deliver his outstanding Bread Pudding with Gelato from Desyree despite limited staffing at his restaurant, and also to Chefs Matt and Carol at HeXx for continuing to do everything they do to offer something completely unique at Paris’ 24/7 eatery, the individually portioned Petit Fours each made from Single Origin Chocolate, while more cocoa provided the filling to Pluvinet’s flaky Croissants and the creamy base of Pots de Crème topped with caramel from Chef Blinn.
Special Thanks to the Chefs, attendees and hosts: As many of you may know, the last month has been incredibly fast paced and stressful, though things are finally starting to calm down. Without each of you there is no way this event would have been possible and despite many moving parts the whole thing came together beautifully without a hitch. You all are what makes dining in this city special and with continued effort I really do think we can continue to grow a community that supports collaboration and honest, great food across Las Vegas. I look forward to many more of these events and many more meals at tables throughout this truly unique city.
TIP: Chef Series #5 will feature Metro Pizza and LuLu’s Bread and Breakfast Chef Chris Decker with Dan Krohmer at Other Mama. 6/18/16 at 4:00pm. Save the Date. Details to Follow.