This cause was the James Beard Foundation and its efforts to improve the culinary world through awards and scholarships, promotion of sustainable seafood, reduction of food waste and leadership programs for women.
The chefs had come to prepare appetizers, dinner and desserts for a lavish fund-raiser, Taste America. Along with the food, there were signature cocktails and wine, cheeses and caviar and premium items for auction.
Chicken livers have probably never been as exciting as in Mei Lin's green curry chicken liver mousse. The Top Chef winner says it's not yet on the menu at her restaurant, Nightshade in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District, but it certainly should be.
There were cheeses and butter from Kerrygold and a Petrossian caviar tasting (above) that let guests try five samples from a Tsar Imperial caviar flight and then eat blini with sour cream and more caviar.
After all this, guests managed to down a three-course dinner that didn't stint on richness, accompanied by wines, rolls and Irish butter from Kerrygold.
James Beard Award winning chef Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch in New York City started off with an heirloom tomato tart on a puff pastry base topped with Cloumage, which is a creamy fresh cheese from Shy Brothers Farm in Massachusetts. On the side was a dollop of basil mousse.
The wine for this course was San Salvatore "Trentenare" Paestum Fiano 2017.
Carmellini also produced roasted and braised jerk lamb with coconut koginut squash, a brand new vegetable from seed startup Row 7.
The wine was Robert Mondavi Winery's Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.
In between these two courses came fresh tuna confit in a bowl of saffron-flavored bouillabaisse consommé with dried pork, yellow plums and verbena oil. This was created by Ludo Lefebvre of Trois Mec in Los Angeles.
After so much food, followed by lively bidding for high-ticket items, everyone needed a walk, so they strolled through a long hallway back to the appetizer site and an irresistible buffet of sweets and pastries.
The temptations included patisserie from Mitzi Reyes of The Bazaar by José Andrés, caramelized white chocolate sabayon by Margarita Manzke of République, dulcey delice with walnut sablé and salted caramel from Lincoln Carson of Bon Temps in the Arts District, and spiced goat cheese, pumpkin custard and chocolate tacolates from Salt & Straw.
As a James Beard Award winner myself, I was proud to be linked to this spectacular benefit, one of 10 Taste Americas taking place across the nation. It was a pleasure to eat so well and so much--to be honest, way too much--for a great cause.