While most culinary festivals spotlight local talent, St. Regis Monarch Beach expands the reach for its first event celebrating our favorite things. Confirming over 40 chefs, 30 vintners and classy entertainment, the meals commence Thursday and continue all weekend.
Representing the diversity that is Orange County, favorites include Helene An, Ron Lee and Tony Nguyen from AnQi; Stephane Treand from ST Patisserie Chocolat and Chef Raj Dixit of Stonehill Tavern. We checked in with Slapfish spokesman Andrew Gruel, recent On the Line subject Brent Omeste and Chef Dixit to see what they had in store for guests.
CUCINA Enoteca Chef Brent Omeste:
“We are going to be serving a bufalo milk budino with vegetable sott'olio, sprouts, seeds and grains. We wanted to do something a little lighter, since the weather has been a bit hot and humid.”
Slapfish chef and Say It To My Face co-host Andrew Gruel:
“We are serving a spiced Clobster roll, half crab/half lobster. It's going to be a gorgeous event!”
Stonehill Tavern's Raj Dixit (discussing his contributions to Thursday's Michael Mina dinner; photographed above is his Grand Tasting contribution ):
Jambalaya is not your typical OC dish. But if you look at the parallels between a classic paella from Spain and a jambalaya, they are almost the same (with debate over cooking on fire, with/without a lid and the degree of crispy rice that is so delicious at the bottom of a paella pan). Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector.
To make jambalaya “my style”, I'm using classic Bomba rice. First, I'm sourcing the spot prawns and rabbit from California. Next, I am going to bring my flair for textures into the dirty rice, while maintaining that soulful flavor. Expect to get salt-cured foie gras terrine, frozen and microplaned over a wafer-thin rice cracker, with the addition of chicken livers and hearts being cooked in the rice; I'm bringing an “offal” new glimpse into being dirty.
For our lamb course (when most want mint jelly), we are doing an absinthe jelly in unison with mountain mint aromatics. It's going to be delicious.
Participate in as many (or few) of the activities offered, although we hear the VIP reception on Thursday is sold out. However, you can still reserve a seat at the six-course, Michael Mina Jazzfest dinner that night. Grand Tastings occur both Friday and Saturday. A special champagne jazz brunch concludes the weekend.
To view a complete listing of participating chefs and brands (and to purchase tickets), visit the St. Regis website. While this is not your standard food and wine festival, bear in mind that St. Regis and Michael Mina aren't your typical hosts. We expect nothing less than a class act.
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.