This past week, sister site Recode brought some of the tech industry's most prominent executives and leaders to Terranea on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. On Wednesday evening, a select group of chefs and restaurants cooked a food festival-style dinner for the attendees, many of whom are industry leaders in their own right.
Mei Lin (Top Chef, Eater Young Gun) prepared vegan tikka masala, Badmaash brought their cravable Indian pub fare, Hamasaku sliced fresh nigiri sushi, Jason Neroni of The Rose Cafe made mini lobster rolls, Nyesha Arrington represented Venice's Leona, Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish) made a delicious plate of mushroom mole, Neal Fraser plated his super simple but perfect little ricotta gnudi, Steve Samson (Rossoblu, Sotto) crisped up lamb belly, while Tal Ronnen (Crossroads) grilled up meatless sliders using the sustainable patties by Impossible Foods.
Here are some more hangover observations, from both the conference sessions and outdoor dinner:
— When moderators introduced Dominique Crenn (pictured above, center) as the best female chef in the nation, the Atelier Crenn restaurateur quickly corrected him, making sure the audience knew that it's actually in the world.
— Crenn also scoffed at the idea that her $200+ tasting menu (it's actually closer to $300 excluding tax but including tip) at Atelier Crenn is expensive. But it was all in good fun, as the discussion centered on how to make food more sustainable and ultimately affordable.
— That conversation was mainly driven by Pat Brown (photo, CEO of Impossible Foods. The company's aim is to create plant-based meat substitutes that won't have carnivores missing the meat. The first product, the Impossible Burger, should be priced about the same as organic ground beef.
— It was the battle of the curries with both Mei Lin and the Badmaash brothers serving chana masala and Goan chicken curry right next to each other. We weren't complaining.
— The longest line was for Impossible Foods' meat-free sliders. So what's the verdict? Pretty darn good, but they probably won't give In-N-Out a run for its money.
— Pat Brown of Impossible Foods did state that when it enters the market, the ground "meat" would be priced about the same as grass-fed organic beef. Pricey, sure, but the results by Tal Ronnen were very impressive. Were the sliders better than what you might get at Superiority Burger in New York City? Eater co-founder and Vox Media VP of editorial Lockhart Steele didn't think so.
— Hamasaku's sushi chef Yoya Takahashi was furiously making impeccable nigiri for lucky sushi lovers. The real treat were pristine pieces of Santa Barbara uni that made under-the-radar appearances.
— On-site security wouldn't let Jason Neroni onto the grounds because he didn't have a badge. It should be noted that entrance to the conference starts at a whopping $6,500, so they were pretty cautious about letting anyone in. But a chef dressed in his whites and ready for service, running a few minutes late? Security had to escort Neroni using a non-direct path to his station.
— Elon Musk discussed all the potential business that could land on Mars, particularly Mars' first pizza shop.