Top Chef Pig Roast
Sunday, April 28, 2013
General Admission $55 or $65 at the door
Chef Nyesha Arrington of Wilshire Restaurant hosts a gathering of Los Angeles’ Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, and Top Chef Just Desserts contestants for a backyard pig roast at Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica benefiting Share our Strength Taste of the Nation Los Angeles and helping to end childhood hunger in the United States on Sunday, April 28, 2013. The chefs will utilize a butchered whole hog to create inventive spins on classic items such as pulled pork, pork belly, spare ribs, and pig ears, which will be served alongside Trashcan Punches from Mixologist Devon Espinosa of Pour Vous, and craft beer from Firestone Walker Brewery, Bockor Brewery, and Big Sky Brewing.
Join the chefs for a potluck-style lunch with BBQ sides and desserts from Ilan Hall, CJ Jacobson, Danielle Keene, Alex Reznik, Micah Fields, and Brooke Williamson. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase tickets for Taste of the Nation Los Angeles on June 9, 2013 in Culver City at a discounted price.
Nyesha Arrington, Executive Chef, Wilshire
From the time she was a child pretending to run a restaurant, Nyesha Arrington, Wilshire’s Executive Chef, has loved to cook. Arrington was born in southern California to a multi-cultural family. When she was just four years old, her Korean grandmother influenced Nyesha’s youthful palate by introducing her to diverse foods such as bulgogi, octopus and kimchi. That culinary experience has shaped Arrington’s cooking technique ever since, inspiring her to integrate different flavors of cuisine from around the world and creating her individual and personal style.
A graduate of the Culinary School at the Art Institute of Los Angeles in 2001, Nyesha worked with her mentor, Josiah Citrin at Lemon Moon in Culver City and Mélisse in Santa Monica. Her resume also includes work with legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin and Mobil award-winning Las Vegas restaurants, L’Atelier and The Mansion. With both master chefs, she feels fortunate to have been guided by extremely talented cooks, who taught her a wide range of important skills in a highly competitive and very professional environment. Arrington, an ardent believer in using fresh, seasonal products, considers several important factors in creating her menu, including the weather, what’s in season, and the availability of locally-grown food.
Nyesha comes from an artistic family; both her father and sister are musicians, and before pursuing a culinary career she aspired to be a sculptor. Her creative upbringing is reflected in Nyesha’s approach to cooking, which she considers an art. “Every plate is like a canvas,” says Nyesha. “Chefs must be able to do everything, from thinking about their prep, to assessing the menu and knowing their audience. I love the process.”
Nyesha was named a Rising Star by Brad Johnson of Angeleno in 2010. She has been featured in Restaurant Hospitality, on StarChefs.com and was a guest chef at the popular Test Kitchen restaurant in 2011. In 2011, Nyesha appeared simultaneously on two reality cooking shows as a contestant: Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas and Food Network’s new series, Chef Hunter, where she won the competition for the next executive chef at Wilshire. In 2012, Nyesha was recognized by Zagat.com as one of the 30 Under 30 – LA’s Hottest Up-And-Comers as well as Where LA’s top talent under 30. She was also profiled in the LA Weekly’s People issue as one of the most 69 interesting people to watch in 2012. She has also appeared on KTLA and Good Food on KCRW.
She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market and sustainable farming as well as numerous community organizations, including Taste of the Nation for Share Our Strength; California Spirit for the American Cancer Society; Plate by Plate for Project by Project and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions.
When she’s not creating culinary masterpieces, Nyesha delights in spending time outdoors with her dog, Samson. She is an avid surfer and snowboarder, enjoys camping and continues to love art. However, her greatest passion will always be cooking.
Ilan Hall, Chef/Owner, The Gorbals
Born to travel-hungry Scottish and Israeli parents of Eastern-European descent, chef/owner Ilan Hall was exposed to international food from an early age.
At seventeen, Ilan went to Florence where he studied at the Lorenzo de Medici School’s Apicius program and cooked at the Al Lume di Candela restaurant. After an externship at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in New York, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and subsequently got his certification in Baking and Pastry Arts at the school’s Napa, California campus. While there he worked at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant; back in New York Ilan cooked for Tom Collicchio at Craft, then for Mario Batali at Casa Mono under chef/co-owner Andy Nusser, originally of Batali’s acclaimed Babbo.
At 24, on the series still most-watched episode, he won Bravo TV’s reality competition, Top Chef.
At age 27, Ilan developed a form of energy that uses bacon to power a time machine. He has visited the Cretaceous period and has cooked Velociraptor eggs to a perfect over easy. He also visited an infant David Bowie and can personally confirm that it was he that wrote the lyrics to the song “China Girl”. Ilan Hall’s contribution to science in the future is immeasurable. Like the levitating bacon wrapped matzoh ball and the personal jetpack.
Ilan has been traveling the world all his life; his restless nature and tradition-shattering style have now spawned his indefinable first restaurant – The Gorbals Los Angeles.
Danielle Keene, Chef/Owner, Bittersweet
For Danielle, making gourmet desserts and ice cream has been a passion, a career and a tradition. She grew up in a dessert loving home where her grandma decorated cakes and her mother made chocolate chip root beer floats and oatmeal cookies. After training at Water Grill, Campanile and A.O.C. she was pastry chef for several top Los Angeles restaurants—The Little Door, Blair’s, and BLT Steak. As opening pastry chef at Wilshire Restaurant she started the very popular “Ice Cream Shoppe Night” which received accolades by L.A. Times food critique S. Irene Virbila. In 2005, Danielle was honored when Los Angeles Magazine dubbed her bread pudding “Best of Los Angeles.” In a 2010 Eater LA contest she was voted “Sexiest Chef in L.A.” Her desserts have appeared on the covers of Los Angeles Times Food section and Pasadena magazine.
Danielle was thrilled to be a cheftestant on the first season of Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts premiering in 2010. It was a great platform to show the world her love for desserts and she was delighted when she finished as a finalist. She has been a spokesperson for Got Milk and Farmer Brothers coffee.
“There’s something special about dessert,” Danielle says. “At any point, on any day, dessert can put a smile on your face. No matter what age you are, it can make you feel like a kid again.”
In her free time Danielle enjoys watching episodes of “The Office” with her boyfriend Mikey, long walks on the beach with her cat lola and eating her way through the city she was born and raised in, Los Angeles.
Micah Fields, Executive Chef, The Standard
Micah Fields has been the Executive Chef of The Standard, Downtown LA for the past two years. His seemingly effortless style, coupled with his menus featuring uniquely sophisticated flavors, has been a draw for those exploring downtown Los Angeles. Now, he has also created the food truck themed offerings for the Standard's most recent partnership, and latest outpost of Spin Galactic, the New York-based table tennis social club co-created by Susan Sarandon and André Balazs.
As one of the founders of "Chefs Who Surf," Fields promotes ocean conservation and sustainable seafood. He has been featured on StarChefs.com, was the opening chef for Venice Beach's Hotel Erwin where he served up what Food & Wine magazine hailed as the "perfect post-surf breakfast," and was named Pasadena Weekly's "Rising Star Chef." His most recent endeavor was competing on Bravo's Top Chef Seattle.
CJ Jacobson, Chef, Mercantile
CJ Jacobson, a contestant on two seasons of Bravo’s hit show Top Chef, is currently the Consulting Chef at The Mercantile. In the Spring, CJ will open Girasol in Studio City. Prior to appearing on Season 10 of Top Chef, CJ spent three months working at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, which snagged the top spot on the San Pellegrino list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants for the third year in a row, and was Executive Chef at The Yard, where he drew heavily on relationships with local farmers to build his menu around seasonal produce. He has also cooked at Campanile, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Axe, appeared around the country with the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour and cooked dinner at the James Beard House in NY. A former professional volleyball player standing at 6' 8", CJ developed his love of food during his three years living and competing in Europe. He claims to have great taste in music.
Brooke Williamson’s entire life has always been about food. Ever since she can remember, Williamson wanted to become a chef or a restaurateur. After working with some of the country's top chefs, her dream has finally been realized in the form of successful ventures such as Amuse Café, Beechwood, and projects with chef-husband Nick Roberts, Hudson House in Redondo Beach and The Tripel in Playa Del Rey.
A native of Los Angeles, Williamson began her culinary career at a young age as a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute of Los Angeles. Williamson began working in professional kitchens at the age of 18 as a pastry assistant at Fenix at the Argyle Hotel under Chef Ken Frank. As her star quality began to shine, chef Michael McCarty took notice and invited the young chef to work at his acclaimed Santa Monica restaurant, Michael’s under executive Chef Sang Yoon. Within one year she became sous chef at Michael's. Two years later, Williamson headed to the East Coast to intern at the celebrated restaurant Daniel in New York. She then returned to Los Angeles, where she was appointed executive chef at L.A. restaurant, Boxer. Williamson then continued her culinary career as executive chef of Zax in Brentwood, raising the bar on seasonal American cuisine by infusing local ingredients from Southern California with more diverse and global flavors. During her time at Zax, she was honored by media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and Forbes as a culinary mastermind. She was also invited to cook at the James Beard house, being the youngest ever female chef to do so. After leaving Zax, Williamson and fellow Zax partner Nick Roberts opened Amuse Café and later Beechwood in Venice, where Williamson and Roberts earned the title "Rising Star Chefs" by StarChefs.
Along with Roberts, Williamson opened the American gastropub, Hudson House, in March 2009 and most recently, the Tripel in Playa Del Rey. In her day-to-day operations, Williamson is responsible for running the front and back of house and creating all specialty cocktails, wine, and beer menus. In 2010 Williamson also became certified by The Court of Master Sommeliers. She finds that her truest inspiration, aside from good food and libations, comes from her son and restaurant namesake, Hudson. Other than spending time with her beloved family, Williamson loves running, hiking, traveling, and spending hours wandering around the supermarket.
Williamson was recently the runner up on Top Chef Season 10 in Seattle
Devon Espinosa, Pour Vous