Wow. This dinner was a little-bit-of-a-long-time-coming with a serious side of synchronicity. So Kee Chan, a Chinese native trained in Japan and self titled Dark Chef invited me over a year ago to participate in Plate Your Dream, a dinner series that challenges a chef to imagine how they see the future of food in five years, in five courses.
I met him last year at his former resteraunt, Lure Izykaya, a crazy creative spot in Chicago’s Lincoln Park where I noshed on crazy creative dishes.
After showing him photos of the different coconut dishes I’d been working on over the years in Mexico and dropping off a few Superfood School dishes for him to try, we set a plan for me to have a night where I took over Lure.
And then it totally didn’t happen.
Lure closed and I went to LA, putting the whole coconut dinner idea in the “box of things that just didn’t work out.” Over the years I had become used to not every collaboration making it out of the gate. It was a part of business and really just a part of life.
The news of it not happening came a time when two other projects fell through, leaving me with not much to do when I returned to the U.S. Instead of crying I laughed because when things stack up like that, they are likely making room for something much bigger to fill it.
I let it go. COMPLETELY.
Instead of going to Chicago, I went to L.A first which turned out to be the best decision. I found a cool place, reconnected with cool friends and began the process of living in the Wellness Capital of the World, not to mention Hollywood.
Fast forward a few months, all settled into La La Land and I get message from Kee that the program was starting again.
He was working with Chef Patty Neuesom, of Herb, a Michelin Bib Gourmand Resteraunt that features a health conscious take on Thai that rotates with the seasons. Plus a garden in the back with root veggies and of course…herbs 🙂
I was in. Again.
And it happened. And it was great. And I am grateful.
Most days I’m more of an educator and entrepreneur than a “TOP CHEF” – so to have the opportunity to take over a Michelin Bib Gourmand ain’t too bad!
Having someone from the culinary TV show Check Please as my first reservation was an awesome way to start. Although nothing was filmed this time, the plates came back empty.
Le Cordón Blu WHO? Experience is the ULTIMATE educator (as I’m not formally trained). I’ve literally chopped hundreds of coconuts (and endured thousands of mosquito bites) to get to this place…I mean plate. Coconut Sashimi + Arugula Cream + Kombu
Woman @ Work
I’m originally from South Carolina so I grew up on serious BBQ Sauce. This plant-based version of my childhood fave is made with smoked paprika, nut butter and of course vinegar. Spread on a soaked collard and wrap with fresh veggies for Course 2, a Carolina BBQ Collard Wrap.
Salute to the chefs, cooks and the BOH (Back of House) staff who do this every single day – with way more heat -and way less patience.
With a “cook-less” menu and no animal fat in sight, the line cook had the night off and the dishwashers normally greasy job was happily cut in half.
Smiles all around.
Working with Tessa was another act of fate. After attending one of my events last year, she set out to Mexico, following the path of mangos and beach that I had unknowingly set forth for her in my talk. As a fellow art school grad, we formed a quick bond – plus she already knew how to work with coconuts 🙂
Here she is with the dish that started my coconut craze. Course 3 Coconut Curry Copycat Salad. Get the recipe here.
Since the stove was never used, we used the extra space to expo dishes. Course 4 is quickly becoming one of my signatures: the Asian Sesame Noodles, (get the recipe here). Plus a Coconut Sesame Toast that I created especially for this dinner.
Course 5, Cacao + Green tea await a coat of coconut butter…This is one of those recipes although I have a name for it (Choco Matcha Coco) – I doubt I’ll ever “finish” because of how versatile the ingredients are.
This time I used vanilla paste — last time vanilla powder. Last time fresh pressed cacao “smuggled” from Mexico and this time…with whatever was on sale at Whole Foods.
Experimentation is EVERYTHING, especially with dessert 😉
Fin..till I do it again. Looking forward to more pop-ups in the future. Although I have worked in all facets of the resteraunt world, its not really on my radar. At the end of the day I didn’t get into this business to do this for YOU – I got into this business for YOU to do this for YOU.
Visit my meal planning program Superfood School to learn how to get more plants on your plate.