Earlier this month, The Ecology Center held their annual Green Feast. A sold-out event, the dinner raises money to bring environmental awareness through educational workshops. Guests dined around lengthy communal tables, tasting the efforts of Orange County's finest. Chefs included Greg Daniels of Provisions Market, Kerri Cacciata of Local Tastes Better (and the DTSA Farmers Market), David Pratt of Brick Pizzeria and Steven Kling of SideDoor/Five Crowns.
We stopped by for the pre-dinner entertainment: an “App Off”, where another selection of culinary talents strutted their stuff. Note: All the ingredients used in both the App Off and feast needed to be sourced within a 250-mile radius. For some good ol' fashioned food porn, make the jump.
Ms. Sims and Maro's namesake owner worked the crowds with their rendition of chimichurri noqui. An optional ragu of lamb made for a hearty starter. They utilized Grist and Toll flour out of Los Angeles, Laguna Eggs out of Laguna Beach and Manaserro Farms from Irvine/Tustin.
Speaking of Manaserro Farms, Anne Manaserro teamed up with Pascal to assist in plating his dish of slow cooked and grilled pork belly. It was topped with a white corn and tomato cassoulet. He sourced the oinkster from Cook Pigs Ranch out of Julian. He probably had the busiest day, coming from a Breakfast in the Barn demonstration with Abe of Bluefin, then departing afterwards to continue cooking at his San Juan Capistrano establishment.
Justin Monson of Club 33
Currently the main guy at Disneyland's exclusive Club 33, we knew him during his ownership of Vine in San Clemente. Opting for dessert, chef's selection took a savory turn by pairing blackberries with Drake's Farm goat cheese out of Ontario. This was admittedly the only appetizer we revisited for seconds.
Not his first rodeo, Mike knew to keep it simple and refreshing. Thanks to Santa Monica Seafood, his white seabass ceviche in Treviso leaves was the anecdote to a sweltering afternoon. Smoked chilis as a topping gave it some bite. We rolled ours up for a single bite.
A trio of tastes matched the trio of professionals covering Stonehill Tavern's station. Guests could pop a Shishito pepper while awaiting the featured bite, or they could sip on luscious sangria. Either way, diners hovered for Raj's spin on Spanish omelette with field chili jam, ruby crescent potatoes and wild caught boquerones. He even hopped on a fishing boat to catch sardines the week before, once he discovered spotted prawns wouldn't be available to use.
A one-man-show at the far end of the venue, Chef Boullt knew what made a good dish. Soft-boiled eggs accompanied his smoked potato salad. Crunchy, charred green beans with creme fraiche and vadouvan spice offered balanced taste and varied texture. Sourcing from Chino Farms in Del Mar, Jamul's Hidden Haven, Gaytan Farms in Mira Loma and Weiser Family Farms in Tehachapi, this dish had us craving a plate of fried chicken.
Our winning appetizer (shown at the beginning of this post) was made by the duo at CUCINA Enoteca. From bread crumbs via OC Baking Company to Di Stefano cheese in Pomona, this was a well-traveled Parmigiana. An heirloom tomato fonduta, burrata crema and basil-zucchini puree decorated the modest bite from Chef Omeste.
These aforementioned chefs took time out of their busy dining schedules to lend their expertise for a good cause. Learn more about The Ecology Center and Green Feast by visiting their website.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.