So, when it comes to concepts for my CR8 dinners, I seriously have no idea where the ideas come from. I never push an idea or look for something “cool”. It has to be more than that. It has to resonate on many levels. Most of all, it has to be a catalyst to creating a new dining experience and new dishes.
I had the idea to create a dinner around a “Food Journey”, a story so to speak. I looked for stories in folklore, different cultures, comics, fairy tales, etc. In the end, there was nothing. I’m not a writer, but at this point I decided to just write it myself.
In two hours I wrote down a rough draft. I almost thought I was crazy but it resonated with me so I approached the guys on my CR8 team, particularly A.C Slamet and Noah Lee. I asked them what they thought. They loved it! I felt better and not so crazy anymore. At this point we meticulously started writing and tweaking and creating a new new world. A.C was crucial in co-writing it with me since he writes, acts, and directs, he actually knows what he is doing..
Next thing I know we have a complete story and we even joke about Sophia being our little girl! Next we joined forces with Ilene Balingit and Alistair Chang. Ilene ran several galleries in Pasadena and L.A and Alistair is a conceptual furniture designer in L.A. We talked of the fluidity of the dining environment and accents to accent the experience. Alistair had been working on a wood design that was perfect for the lighting. Ilene had incredible new creative ideas for the expression of the story.
As soon as we announced the dinners, we were sold out in just 2 days. Once people reserved their seats, they received the beginning of the story in the mail. A wonderful scroll type of package that was step one to create a relationship with the diner that would last all the way until the end of the event.
Specialized booklets designed by Ilene Balingit. Photo by KevinEats.
The idea for the menu was to highlight the spots on the planet where she would have to collect the ingredients.
Beautiful lighting design Alistair Chang
Paintings created by Noah Lee
Creating a dining environment worthy of continuing the story throughout the dinner. The dining table was made of 4 old doors, also painted and put together by Alistair Chang. The center piece was a real Samurai sword..It was perfect!
What better way to greet the diners than with a specialty cocktail!
Kama Sutra: Mango puree, Amchur, white rum, cointreau, ginger lime mousse, cilantro oil
“Enchanted Paella” Saffron Bomba rice cream, dehydrated tomato confit, red pepper pudding, pea puree-shoots, crunchy chorizo, fire roasted shrimp/mussel consomee, soccarat crisp
Uni and all seafood flown in from I love Blue Sea, thanks Matt!
“Emperors Uni” Avocado tartare, uni sabayon, frozen jalapeno, shinseiki pear, Blis sake cure steelhead caviar, pickled grapes, lime leaf, chive oil
“The Seed” 64C egg expression, toasted seed meringue, thai basil veloute, buttermilk
“Trapped Funghi” Morels, sesame prailine, spring alliums, mushroom sabayon, cardamom, homemade coffee oil, ginger
“El Último” Black vinegar Iberico Carrilleras, wheatberry, foie gras emulsion, beet puree, brussel sprouts, maple
“Phantom Porcelana” Amedei Porcelana textures, banana, herb salad, oak wood ice cream, roasted malt, red wine, olive oil, tonka bean
In the end, it was a very unorthodox way of creating a dining concept but with this new knowledge I realized that there are truly no boundaries when creativity is pushed and hard work and focus prevail.
Special thanks to Jeremy and Dara from Studio 1342 again for the perfect space, always a pleasure being there!
A big thanks to Iassic Lee for your incredible d.j elements, it made a big difference in the evening..