People would no doubt question the merits of a $200 lunch. That kind of price tag would qualify as a budget buster for most residents of Planet Earth, but a word like “budget” doesn’t get a lot of play at an event like Pebble Beach Food & Wine, where people gladly spend that fee and more for lunches, dinners and “grand tastings” at one of the ritziest resorts in the U.S. Event organizers comped my luxurious lunch at The Inn at Spanish Bay, which is the only way you’ll ever see a food writer at one of these events, since we’re not exactly known for accumulating boatloads of disposable cash. Anyhoo, this particular lunch united the talents of four Asian-American chefs for a demonstration of “Cooking Beyond Fusion.” Host chef Roy Yamaguchi, San Francisco’s Charles Phan, L.A. based Sang Yoon and Pebble Beach Resorts pastry chef John Hui took turns at the mic, as did winemakers and F&W Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle as golfers swung clubs in the distance, the Pacific at their backs.
We started in the lobby with passed appetizers and Champagne Delamotte “Blanc de Blancs” Brut, from Mesnil-sur-Oger, which dates to 1760, making it the fifth oldest champagne house.
Roy Yamaguchi was the host chef, and even holds his own annual culinary festival, Hawaii Food & Wine, which is fast becoming a September tradition in Honolulu.
Roy Yamaguchi commemorated the 100th anniversary of first planting of cherry blossoms in D.C. by preparing Hamachi Sashimi Mi-Cuit with cherry blossom rice, grapefruit, mikuni tiny veggies, and nitsumi tare, sakura ponzu, avocado, salmon roe, and Hawaiian sea salt.
The pairing was a pour of 2009 Grieve Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc, from a winery that sits above Carneros in a cooler corner of Napa.
Charles Phan was the last line of defense (on the left) before delivering his chicken.
Phan prepared a classic Chinese dish, Yellow Feather Chicken with lily buds and dried shiitakes, steamed with ginger and rice wine and served on the bone. He joked that people might not like his bird because it actually tasted like chicken. He also thought it was funny that each chef served their protein with rice, saying, “We didn’t even call each other. We didn’t even find out what dress we were going to wear. We’re all wearing the same dress.”
The chicken joined a glass of 2011 Blackbird Bineyards Rose “Arriviste” from Napa. The winemaker joked, “You have to drink the rose to get to the red, gentlemen.”
Sang Yoon closed the savory portion of the meal with Short Rib Rendang, which underwent two-days of sous vide before searing. He prepared the meat with Malay spices, red chile lemongrass rempah, crispy coconut milk and pandan sticky rice cakes.
The final whine was a 2010 Kunin Rhone Blend called “Pape Star” from Cali’s Central Coast.
John Hui’s dessert trio included Buttermilk Almond Cake with yogurt mascarpone mousse, candied almonds, and apricot gelee; Mandarin Orange Panna Cotta with a sesame tuile; and a Caramel Macadamia Nut Torte with coconut ice cream and pineapple compote.
Our final sips were from a glass of 2010 Kunin Late-Harvest Viognier “Paradise Road,” produced in Santa Ynez.
During my interview with Charles Phan, which took place on the Inn’s chef-packed patio between courses two and three, he described “fusion” as “like the F word,” but as he and his chefs proved in Roy’s Restaurant, it doesn’t have to be.
Note: Pebble Beach Food & Wine hosted me at Cooking Beyond Fusion.