Taking Over Abigaile

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Abigaile is once again staying true to it’s punk rock aesthetic. Not because of the killer playlist or the walls adorned with spray paint. Not even the fact that Fletcher from Pennywise was a guest – although that is a great qualification – but because Abigaile’s Kitchen Takeover II brought 6 chefs together, threw out the rule books and cooked without limitations. There couldn’t be a more perfect venue for an event with such charisma and attitude. The atmosphere inside Abigaile is a huge breath of fresh air compared to Union Cattle Company which formerly housed this great space. Great service, attention to detail and always staying one step ahead of the competition are prime examples of where Abigaile is headed if it isn’t there already. As far as the food and cocktail menu, it is without question the gold standard in the South Bay.

Having missed the first installment of Kitchen Takeover, this was an event I could not pass up. Seeing the lineup of chefs that were going to be a part of this event only solidified my need to attend. For years, events of this magnitude were only happening in Hollywood and beyond so it’s exciting to see chefs of this caliber cooking in the beach cities.

Kitchen Takeover II invited Chefs, Dean McDermott of The Gourmet Dad, Jorge Valines of Code Venice, Jet Tila of The Charleston, Tony DiSalvo of Viceroy, Emily Collisson of Montage Beverly Hills and of course Abigaile’s own Executive Chef, Tin Vuong.

The first dish of the night belonged to Tin Vuong which I believe had the best presentation of the night. The crispy prawns were straight-forward and delicious. The lamb bacon mixed with red rice had the consistency of a beef tartar which came together in perfect harmony and lead to a really solid dish.

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Next up was Dean McDermott who has a new project called The Gourmet Dad. I honestly had to do a double take when looking at the lineup of Chefs for this event. I had no idea he had this project but I was very intrigued to learn more and taste his dish. For those who may or may not know, Dean is a television star with a huge reality show called “Tori & Dean” which chronicles the life of him and celebrity wife Tori Spelling. After a bit of research, I realized he made a killer polenta and skirt steak dish on “Rachael vs. Guy”, the cooking show featuring Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray. For this event, Dean made a very impressive dish consisting of haggis and scallops. The haggis over neeps and tatties reminded me of the food my Grandparents would cook for us and the scallop was small but packed with flavor. I love the way the dish looked and the taste definitely exceeded my expectations. I am very interested in seeing where this new venture takes Dean.

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Moving right along was a chicken confit dish with mofungo and crispy chicken skin by Chef Jorge Valines. Besides Dean, this was the only other chef of the night that I haven’t tasted anything from. I have walked by Code Venice plenty of times without ever giving it a second glance but after tasting his dish, a trip to Code is definitely in store. Each element of the dish had a distinct flavor which were good on their own but mixing it all together with his salsa criolla brought the dish to a whole new level.

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Jet Tila set the bar very high with his khao soi, a curry noodle dish from Northern Thailand. Egg noodles happen to be one of my favorite and was a perfect fit for this dish because of how easily it soaks up the broth. The curry was very rich with a hint of spice and coconut. The braised beef was extremely tender and honestly gave the dish a real balance. This was, by far, the most complete dish of the night but also the heaviest which didn’t leave much room for the last two plates.

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After previewing the menu, I was most excited for Tony DiSalvo’s dish. I am a fan of all face meat, so naturally the beef cheeks were on the very top of my list and Tony definitely did not disappoint. The soy braised beef cheek was the absolute single best bite of the night. Luckily, this dish wasn’t one of the first to come out because I would have eaten off of my neighbors plates and not have felt guilty whatsoever. The tongue was equally as tender and tasted incredible with the celery root puree. I could have done without the sausage but after tasting the cheek and tongue, I could care less.

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Last, but certainly not least was a great dessert dish from Emily Collisson. Knowing her background, I knew her tocino del cielo would be fabulous. Tocino del cielo is very similar to flan and crème brulee. The texture is not a favorite for many people because of its gelatinous state but any fan of flan will love this dish. Tasting it with the charred pear gave it a new element while not being overwhelming.

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If you missed out on this fabulous dinner, don’t worry, there will be plenty more in the future. Abigaile has created a great event which will definitely put Hermosa on the culinary map.

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