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Club Culinaire of French Cuisine Picnic des Chefs - Wow!

TomSwift | Jun 13, 200612:05 PM

This past Sunday we spent an absolutely delightful afternoon (11:00 to 4:00) at Griffith Park at the annual Picnic des Chefs put on by the Club Culinaire of French Cuisine, an organization of Southern California French chefs and food purveyors designed for networking, cross-promoting their businesses and the like. It was truly a family affair, with Moon Bounce for the kids, live music (sung in French), and other games. We were with a group of, maybe, 12 Hounds and Hounds-in-Training and had great fellowsip. However, the food was the star.

We started with a few appetizers. Smoked salmon and garnishes prepared by Michel Blanchet of Michel Blanchet Cordon Bleu; Duck pate made by Akira Hirose of Maison Akira; Foie gras terrine from Rougie America; Rilettes by Bruno Commereuc of Angelique Cafe; Jambon, saucisson & cornichons from Made in France/Village Imports; and quiche Lorraine made by Joe Miller of Joe's and Josie LeBalch of Josie. The duck pate and the foie gras were very good (and unlimited, yea!). The quiche was excellent.

Then we moved on to the regional offerings, each served out of its own tent. From Paris, Patric Jamon and Dominique Raynal of the Regency Club offered grilled marinated flank steak, and Christian Monchatre of the Jonathan Club had rotisserie Cornish game hens, French fries and Kenter Farms mesclun salad. Those fries were sublime. Twice fried, with tallow I believe, in a series of 6 fryers set at two temperatures. We devoured them by the platefull.

Then we traveled to Provence for some herb crusted lamb loin by Conny Andersson of the Regent Beverly Wilshire, salade Nicoise with tuna from Jean-Francois Meteigner of La Cachette, and grilled veggies from the Chef's Warehouse. The tuna was so rare in the middle. The lamb was medium-rare with a great char.

We moved on to Lyon where Bruno Lopez of the Hotel Bel Air had potato salad with parsley and Lyon-style sausage, and Jean-Pierre Bosc and Martin Herold of Mimosa did a delicious lentil and frisee salad with Maple Leaf duck confit.

By this time most of us were approaching capacity but we were forced to move on to Normandy for Contessa shrimp Amoricain style by Kenjiro Taka of the Amada Club and a scallop and cauliflower gratin prepared by Andre Angles of Frenchy's Bistro. The gratin was a winner.

There was the dessert and cheese tent which I eyed but of which I did not partake, opting instead for more fries, lamb and gratin. They had Vairhona Chocolate chocolate mousse & raspberry cheesecake made by Roger Berson of LA Patisserie; chocolate eclairs by Yvan Valentin of Sweet Temptations; Croquembouche by Isabelle Champigneulle & Chris Kaufman of Emil's; Chef Maurice Clafoutis & tarte tatin by Maurice Brazier and Bernard Jacoupy, Apple tarts from Christian Rassinouix of the Ritz Carlton, Laguna; and waffles with whipped cream and strawberries from Betty Siegels of the Pacific Dining Car. Not to forget Dandy Don's sundae bar. The strawberries were huge and delicious.

Of course we had to drink. They had California and French wines, which we avoided in favor of our own. Stella Artois and Leffe beers, which we consumed past the point of discretion, Volvic, Badoit, Perrier and Evian, Pernod-Ricard (which was great, although we'd brought our own Pernod and water), sodas, iced tea and coffee.

As the day wound down and the chefs could turn their operations over to their staffs, they mingled with the crowd and it was lots of fun to talk with Akira, Josie and Jean-Francois about French food in LA and food in general. As they were shutting down the tents we were able to get food to go - when I asked for a baguette, I was told to take a whole bag of a dozen, and I got a mass of smoked salmon and a whole round of Camembert, unopened. I was not the only one leaving with loot.

The all-inclusive cost for this feast was $45. By far the best food bargain I've seen in a long time. This is an annual event. I wasn't able to post on this board about it in advance because it would have run afoul of the CH rules about promoting commercial events in advance. I did post on the SCARF board and several SCARFers were in attendance. We will definately be regulars at this event from now on.

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