Before your head explodes, allow me to paint you a picture. A 6 course meal, where each course is individually prepared by one of these great chefs, and they are all within a fresh baked roll's toss from your table. Oh, and they have invited a guest chef to the party. And he is French. Cue Ludo Lefebvre and the sound of violins swelling in your heart. There you have it. The exceptional "5x5 Chefs Dinner Series" is upon us and if you're toying with the idea of attending one of the 4 remaining soirées, you can tame your piqued curiosity with this peek into how the evening at Mélisse unfolded.
I began with the chilled pea, and the sphere at the bottom of the shot was a surprise as it burst on my tongue. The lemon foam was an aromatic touch and was a fresh way to begin. The crispy chicken skin was savory and the milk curd brought a bit of creaminess. An excellent and inventive first course by this gourmet veteran.
The fish was beautiful and the yuzu kosho was a treat. It is made with yuzu citrus peel and chilies and then salt cured, so it adds a hot and zesty kiss to any dish. In certain parts of Japan, yuzu kosho is found on every table, just like ketchup is here in America. The kosho was perfectly segmented into juicy, individual strands and the puffed rice added a fun, textural bite.
Gino is a celebrated chef who was named by Los Angeles Times Magazine as hands down, the best Italian chef in LA! His spaghetti was made without egg, just as it was often made in certain parts of Italy where people couldn't afford eggs. Gino makes it by hand with only flour, white wine and olive oil. Of course wine would be cheaper than eggs in Italy! That makes perfect sense! Without the egg in the mixture, the spaghetti takes on the texture of an udon noodle, becoming slightly chewier than fresh pasta made with egg. Gino hand rolls and cuts each strand individually with a knife and makes his own sausage, no less. The sausage fragments brought wonderful depth of flavor to the spaghetti and the spring truffles were beautifully fragrant. Bellissima!
The egg dumplings were an amazing creation and one that this egg slut had never seen before. I spoke to Michael who divulged that he had used 2 cartons of eggs to make the dumplings for the evening's dinner. That is almost 150 eggs. Lucky for him, the Sweet Lady Jane bakery is next door to his beloved Ink Sac on Melrose, so Michael was able to trade the egg whites in exchange for bread. The dumplings require only yolks (and maybe rice flour?) which he dispenses into boiling water using a pastry bag for cake making, and then cuts down to dumpling size. Voila! Good luck trying it at home.
I was immediately stunned by the teeny-tiny dollhouse sized rack of ribs on the plate. You can tell their impressively small size if you use the carrots as a reference. I loved the many ways the rabbit was prepared and savored the caramelized onions and the herbaceous jus. A delightful and hearty finish to the meal.
If you are interested in attending another 5x5 Dinner this summer, be prepared to spend $150 per person exclusive of tax, gratuity and beverage. The last 5x5 dinner in LA was in 2009 so this is a rare opportunity, plus a portion of proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics.
The next event is May 21 at Providence where Jeremy Fox will be the guest chef (formerly of Ubuntu in Napa).
On July 16 dinner is set Angelini Osteria with Michael Tusk (Quince in SF) as guest chef preparing a course.
On August 20 the 5x5 team heads over to Bouchon where the extra chef is still unnamed.
The final dinner will be at Ink on Sept 16 with Chris Cosentino (Pigg at Umamicatessen).