by Jeff Hoyt
You’ve heard of a Kitchen Makeover, but how about a Kitchen Takeover? Chef Tin Vuong of Abigaile hosts a monthly Kitchen Takeover at his American restaurant in the heart of Hermosa Beach, California, close to the sand. He invites a group of chefs to help him prepare the special menu available for one night only, with each toque preparing a different course.
We were lucky enough to attend his last gathering in the historic, rustic building. We made our way past the large vats where the house-brewed beer is made to a large, casual table across from the lively bar. The theme was global cuisine, and it didn’t disappoint.
Although Tin was a welcoming host, he made his guest chefs’ tasks more difficult by starting the dinner with a crispy prawn dish with hollandaise, lamb bacon and Dungeness crab that was a tough act to follow. Dean McDermott added some shock value to the meal by making haggis. Since the restaurant space was once used as a church and later a punk band rehearsal space, the chef known as The Gourmet Dad brought both elements into the Scottish sheep organ dish: he explained that like punk rock, haggis is misunderstood, and that his wife, an ordained minister, had blessed the bread (crostini, actually) used in the dish. It wasn’t until later I realized he was referring to Tori Spelling of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame!
We then enjoyed an eclectic meal of small plates, including a confit chicken leg from chef Jorge Valines, khai soi (Northern Thai beef curry) from Jet Tila of The Charleston, and soy braised beef cheek from Tony DiSalvo of Whist. Emily Collisson, pastry chef at Montage Beverly Hills, ended the extremely enjoyable evening with her flan-like tocino del cielo.
The next Kitchen Takeover will be on Tuesday, March 5, with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. In honor of National Women’s History Month, Tin has invited an all-female line-up of chefs, with a portion of the proceeds going to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Tickets are $65 for cocktails, reception and dinner, and are available by calling 310-798-8227.
You can click on each photo to enlarge.